“All the staff and their personal recovery stories help me to have great hope for my son's future. I know my son feels safe there, and has remarked that he's learning things he didn't know before. Something is finally resonating with him. I know the structure of Turnbridge’s program is to be credited to very large measure.”
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
This past month, Phase 2 of the Women’s Program went to Hogan’s Alley Paintball.
Hogan’s Alley is a unique paintball experience in that they offer six different themed courses each with various forts and obstacles. Games can range from capture the flag, rescue the pilot or team elimination rounds. Each player begins by suiting up in protective gear and gets to practice at a target range before entering the playing field. Hogan’s Alley employees are especially patient with teaching beginners how to use the equipment as well as rules of the game.
Carter M., Support Staff, said “The girls really enjoyed the experience at paintball. It was a great stress reliever and wonderful to watch them have fun in sobriety.
Pamela A, Phase 2 client and avid outdoor enthusiast said “It made me feel alive. It was so much fun to run around outside on a beautiful day.”
Spencer P. is the Clinical Coordinator and Unsung Hero for the month of June.
Spencer remembers a specific Memorial Day basketball tournament that played a role in leading him to Turnbridge. “I had just graduated college and I was fairly new in recovery. I was playing at the basketball tournament and someone asked me if I would be interested in working as Support Staff. Now, I am a Clinical Coordinator.”
It’s this sense of inclusiveness that Spencer notes is distinctly different than other workplaces. “There’s a sense of community here that we try to instill. It’s certainly a little crazy at times but I think the people that we have here are so unique that it makes the work environment something really special.”
One of his favorite parts of the job is seeing individuals grow. “I see change in clients that when they come in, are kind of at their wits end or rock bottom. Then 6 months, 9 months, a year later they do a complete 180 and some people who I never thought would be successful members of society- they are. That’s a big part of it. Also, the people I work with here and have formed connections with are amazing. I think the work that they’re doing to help better the clients is something that makes me want to stay here and try to do the same.”
Christine R. is the grandmother of Connor S., current Phase 3 client of the Men’s Program.
“Connor is 20 years old and I became his legal guardian when he was 13 because his mother passed away related to Type 1 diabetes,” explains Christine. “I’ve noticed Connor has had struggles since then and they had only gotten worse.” Christine began to notice Connor struggling in school as he started using marijuana and alcohol around age 15. “He has always struggled in school a little but he became more and more withdrawn. When he turned 18 he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and from there, things went extremely downhill. He gave up on his will to live. He thought since his mother had passed away the same thing would happen to him and he didn’t care about anything.”
Christine was heartbroken to witness this behavior in her grandson. “It was very scary for me. Before he came to Turnbridge, he had four admissions to the ICU at our local hospital related to not taking his diabetes medication. It was a death wish for him. He was passively suicidal. I was so afraid he was going to die.” Christine did whatever she could to try and take care of Connor. “He had been in therapy for five years but just could not connect with his therapist and eventually stopped going. I went and got him court committed for a psychiatric hospitalization because I was so afraid for him.” She ended up enlisting the help of a trusted friend to research treatment options. “We went online and started looking for programs because I knew if I didn’t do something, he was going to die. I called Turnbridge and I asked for help. I knew it would be difficult even getting him there. An interventionist flew to our town and met with me. The next day was the intervention. He got Connor to come to the kitchen and explained everything to him. Within an hour, Connor was in his car and on his way to Turnbridge.”
Despite Connor’s acceptance of treatment, Christine worried if she had made the correct choice. “For me it was extremely difficult because I wasn’t sure if I’d made the right decision. I was afraid that Connor would think that I didn’t want him or that I was abandoning him. He was extremely angry at first. In fact, I had to block the calls because it was so upsetting for me. I didn’t want to cave in and come get him.”
Even without Christine’s help, Connor did leave treatment. “About 2 months in, he left with someone he talked to on Facebook that lived a half hour from where we live. She picked him up and he left with no diabetes supplies.” Soon after, Connor had a change of heart. “He contacted me 24 hours after he left and said he made a mistake. He said he thought he should go back to Turnbridge. The next morning, I met with him, he called his case manager and I drove him back.”
While Christine said it was “rocky for a while,” she has since noticed huge improvements. “He’s now in Phase 3 and has made a lot of progress. It has just gotten better and better. Our relationship has gotten much better. He just called me to see how his day was and that’s never ever happened. I feel much more relaxed and I feel like I can sleep at night. Connor is becoming much more of an adult. He’s finally found a therapist he can connect with. He’s working part time and he’s beginning to take better care of himself. It’s been a great experience.”
Parallel to Connor’s recovery, Christine said she has been going through a recovery of her own. “I go to Lauren [Springer]’s support group and she has been great. Connor’s case managers have helped me learn to set boundaries because initially, I had the feeling I wasn’t doing the right thing. They kept telling me I was doing the best I possibly could for Connor, so trusting what the case managers had to say was big for me. I also go to the Turnbridge support group in Massachusetts which is close to me and that’s been so helpful. I’ve also gotten so much support from Josh the family therapist. I feel totally supported by the Turnbridge staff.”
Christine expressed gratitude for finding Turnbridge because she “did not know there were programs like this. Before retiring I was a psychiatric nurse so I’m aware of mental health and substance abuse issues, but its never affected me personally. Its much different when it’s someone you’re close to. I thought I would lose any relationship I had with him. I did not know a long term place like Turnbridge existed and its given him the opportunity to learn life skills.”
Connor’s life skills are one of the most notable improvements Christine has seen. “He’s more aware of how to take care of himself. He’s learning how to reach out for help- and not to only me. Now, he can relate to staff and peers for help and he can accept it. I think he’s also learned some social skills too.”
Connor is planning on staying in the New Haven area “which I’m ecstatic about,” said Christine.
“I think most parents at the beginning experience the same kind of feelings I did- ‘am I doing the right thing?’. I think it’s worth for people to know; if you get to the step where you feel like you need this program, then listen to all the recommendations because it really does work.”
Bradley E. is a current Phase 3 client at the Mens Program.
A Louisiana native, Bradley found himself dropped out of high school and kicked out of his parent’s house. “Honestly, I was baffled cause I had always been a really good student. I made all As and Bs in honors classes. But then I got to a point where I didn’t do anything and didn’t see a future for myself.”
Bradley began smoking weed as a Freshman in high school. “One of my friends asked me if I wanted to try it. I eased into it but then, the summer before my Sophomore year, I started smoking every day and never really stopped after that.” Slowly, this new habit began to deteriorate his life. “I’d gone from a private school to a public school and my parents made me play baseball which I didn’t want to do. We had workouts every day and one day, I skipped a workout. [The school] didn’t contact me or my parents, so I found out I could skip school [without consequence].” After this discovery, Bradley began to skip school more and more frequently. “It got way too out of hand very quickly. Once I’d missed 60% of my classes, my parents found out. They flipped out and kicked me out of the house. I had none of my books, no vehicle to get to school. It was my excuse not to go and I dropped out halfway through my senior year.”
During that time, Bradley said he did “absolutely nothing. I didn’t have a job and wasn’t looking for one. I was living on my friend’s couches for 2-3 months until my parents let me back in.” Once being allowed back at his parent’s house, Bradley still found himself directionless. One day, he was woken up at 8am only to find his living room full of loved ones for an intervention. “I was surprised there were that many people concerned about me. I mean I knew my parents were worried but I figured eventually they’d do something. I just didn’t expect an intervention. It was really hard to see everyone crying. There were 15-20 people who all had something to say. I let only two of them talk before agreeing to accept help.”
From there, Bradley got on a plane to Connecticut and arrived at Turnbridge. “I was just really pissed the whole time. I didn’t think I had a problem but I did know I needed help with something because I wasn’t doing anything and I needed to get my life back on track.”
Upon arriving at Phase 1, Bradley remembers being nervous entering a new environment. “It looked like a nice place but I was freaking out having to meet all the new people. I wasn’t sure how they were going to accept me but I did end up getting along really well with a couple guys. One of them is still my best friend today.” Despite forming some friendships, Bradley got off to a rough start. “For the first three months I was just fighting it. I called my parents every day telling them I wanted to leave. Telling them I’d get a friend to pick me up when in reality, I had no contact with anyone who would come get me so that wasn’t happening. I would lie to my parents and tell them people were doing drugs here. I would say anything- I was just trying to get them to be on my side and take me home.”
Eventually, Bradley began to come around and accepted that he needed this help. “I realized I had to be here and in order to get better, I had to stay. I decided to do whatever I was told to do.”
After sticking to his plan to take suggestions and accept help he was offered, Bradley now notices changes in himself. “I definitely look healthier and I can hold down a job. I’d never had a job before and it feels good. I have my car up here now. There’s been a lot of positive changes. My relationship with my family is really good now. My dad and I used to have a terrible relationship but he recently came to visit for about a week and a half. Usually I wouldn’t be able to spend an hour with him but we hung out basically the whole time he was here.”
As for his education, Bradley has plans to start college in the fall. “I finished high school about 6 months ago and I’m going to [Louisiana State University] soon. I want to go for business, maybe end up going to grad school. I don’t know what Ill do with that yet, but now I know I can do pretty much anything.”
For Bradley, his apathy and inactivity were one of his biggest struggles. “Some of my challenges were honesty and just making myself do things. At home, I did absolutely nothing. I wouldn’t show up for anything but now Ill do anything I’m asked. I never miss work and have never been late. Probably the biggest [victory] for me now is showing up for life.”
Bradley has now been able to build a life for himself and create a future to look forward to. “Being able to live on my own is something I didn’t think would happen a year ago. Turnbridge helped me get my life back.”
Grace N. is a Turnbridge alumni and a current Support Staff member at the Women’s Program.
“Before I came to Turnbridge, I was abusing [benzodiazepines]. I told myself I wouldn’t be able to function without them,” explains Grace. Her introduction to substances began at a young age, as Grace struggled with mental health issues. “When I was a kid I had extremely bad anxiety. My parents didn’t really know what it was about. I would always say ‘my stomach hurts’ and I wouldn’t be able to go to school or my friend’s birthday parties.” In addition to social anxiety, Grace faced struggles in school. “I also have learning disabilities, but back then, learning disabilities weren’t really a ‘thing’. My teachers would just call me lazy or think I was unwilling to do the work, even though I was trying my hardest to keep up with the other kids.” Unsure of what do do, Grace’s parents decided to seek professional help. “By the time I was 11, my doctor thought I needed to be on benzos. I’d need them to function every day, to do any activity or go to school like normal people.”
Initially, Grace followed her doctor’s orders and took her medications as prescribed. “Then, at the age of 14, I started smoking weed. My brother and sister were doing it because they were older. They told me it helped them with anxiety so I figured it would help me too.” Soon, Grace would become reliant on marijuana in addition to her medications in order to go about her every day life.
“My parents didn’t have an idea of what was going on. They just knew I needed a lot of help because I was so depressed and anxious so they brought me to the doctor. They just wanted to help me and thought I was taking the medications the doctor gave me as prescribed. At the time, they were more concerned with my siblings because they were older and using more hardcore drugs. I was the ‘angel kid’ because they didn’t know how bad I was struggling. They didn’t know how much Id been drinking and smoking weed at age 13.”
As she got older, Grace’s substance abuse began to escalate. “I started getting into more hardcore drugs in high school because I saw other people experimenting with them. I saw how it helped their pain from an emotional standpoint so I thought it would also be helpful for me.” Throughout high school and college, Grace continued on this path of self medication seeking anything that would help her feel “okay”. “I was just getting more anxious and didn’t know how to handle it,” explains Grace.
“Finally, when I was done with college, I found myself living a miserable life. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do with my Social Work degree. I’ve always been a person that wanted to help others. I feel like going through my experience with learning disabilities would help me show other people they they can do whatever they want. But at the time, I was anxious even doing little things like waking up, going to work or socializing at parties. I had to take more Xanax and on top of that I was drinking. It just wasn’t helping.”
Grace turned to her own family as a source of inspiration as she witnessed her brother and sister get into recovery. “I saw how much AA helped my brother and sister in getting sober. I saw them start a new path in life. I would think, ‘maybe I need to get help. Maybe I shouldn’t rely on drugs and alcohol to function.’ At that point, I was so miserable and did not want to live. My family approached me and offered me an opportunity to get help. I kept telling them I needed to think about it. I said that for about 6 months- I kept thinking I wasn’t ready yet. Id wanted to say yes, but at the time I was so anxious about how I would get through it. Id relied on these drugs for so long- 15 years- I worried about what it would be like off of them. It was a really scary idea for me.”
After months of this indecision, Grace made the decision to go to Turnbridge after spending a couple weeks in detox. It was seeing how her sibling’s had changed their lives that inspired Grace to take the leap. “Seeing how far they came really pushed me to want to get help. At the time, I was relying on my parents financially. Id have to keep asking them for help because Id spend all my money on drugs. I saw how far my brother and sister had both come and I got to a point where I wanted to live a full life.”
Despite the inspiration to change her life, Grace still struggled with being in treatment. “I got here and thought ‘I’m not gonna last,’. I kept wanting to run from my feelings. This was the first time I was dealing with them in so long. I was just really uncomfortable.” She remembers consistently being encouraged along the way. “I stuck with it because people kept telling me its going to get better. It was hard because for me it took a long time to feel like I was getting better. I didn’t want to work any steps. I felt like I didn’t need to go to meetings or be in AA. Finally, my brother reminded me of how miserable I was before coming here. He said “If you want to get better like me and your sister, you do need this program,”.
Grace’s tenacity began to pay off as she began to notice changes in herself once she got to Phase 3. “When I got to 3, I found a really true friend in Maddy S. We both encouraged each other and were like ‘okay- we can do this!’ I got a sponsor and started working the steps. I got a job and everything started to click. I was finally happy with myself and was able to venture into the real world without thinking about benzos or drugs. It was such an awesome feeling, I felt like I was a new person.” While in Phase 3, Grace also found out some devastating news. “My ex boyfriend died while I was here and it showed me if I didn’t keep up the work, the same would happen to me. It was a really big turnaround for me. Not only did it show me that I can go through difficult things without drugs, but it showed me why I have to keep doing this. Recovery is the right decision.”
Now, Grace works at Phase 1 and 2 of the Women’s Program and is loved by clients and staff alike. “After graduating and now working for Turnbridge it’s such a great feeling. It helps me that I can help other girls too and share my experience with them.”
In addition to being able to give back, Grace notices a huge difference in her relationship with her family. “My parents have noticed a big difference in me. Before, I would only call them when I needed something. Now I call them every day just to ‘hey, I love you.’ Before, I would have never done that. I’d only call them when I was high or to ask them for something. Now, I don’t rely on them for those things, I just call to check in and say hi. Also, me and my brother are so close right now. It’s the closest we’ve ever been and it’s great. For instance, him, my sister and I just took a trip to Arizona together. Having all three of us in recovery, we all click and we all ago to meetings together. That’s just a great feeling for me.”
19 MONTHS Milena B.
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