I wanted you to know that I really get a great deal from the Turnbridge Parent Support Group. I feel better after I go to these groups than I do with the other group I’ve gone to.
I also feel closer to the other parents in this group. And, I appreciate all that you share with us and how you guide us.
Rec & Lifestyle
This month, Phase I and II clients from the Turnbridge Women’s Program headed into downtown New Haven for “Paint Night” at Art Plus Studio, a popular local venue. This activity supports one of Turnbridge’s core philosophies that helping young people engage in healthy leisure activities without the use of substances is critical to their sobriety’s longevity.
“I really liked how relaxing it was,” said Turnbridge client, Heather W. “It was great to be sober and do something creative.”
Artistic expression is proven and effective way to manage stress. Events such as Paint Night are more than just an opportunity for a fun night out with friends. They provide a platform for learning and practicing functional coping skills. “Events like paint night help me stay sober,” said Rachel R., another Turnbridge client that attended this activity. “It shows me what fun is really all about.”
“These young women have so many talents and they are now able to explore them without distraction,” Support Staff Manager Kelly Barbeau said. “It is beautiful watching them get back to the things they used to enjoy or even finding new interests.”
This month, Michael Lauro, has earned the Unsung Hero of the Month award for his untiring commitment and dedication as a Turnbridge Women's Program Case Manager.
“It was so unexpected since there are so many dedicated and deserving individuals working here at Turnbridge who give 110% every day,” said Michael.
Michael shared a great anecdote on his experience at Turnbridge. “Years ago, I listened to a management speaker who said that every organization knows what they do. The better ones know what they do well. And the best ones know why they do what they do well. That’s how I see my work environment and I am grateful to be a part of it.”
“It’s a wonderful experience to be surrounded by so many good people and so many good friends,” said Michael.
An active member of the local recovery community, Michael has devoted his life to helping others get better. “As far as how I approach my life, my recovery, or my job, one of the most helpful suggestions an old sponsor passed on to me was that if you don’t have love in your heart, then you will only come at people with either ego or resentment,” said Michael. “So whether it’s friends, family members, sponsees or clients, it’s sound advice to follow. Every morning, I do my best to roll into the driveway at the women’s program with that in mind.”
Michael added, “But I have to say, I don’t feel ‘unsung’ at all. While I only arrived here less than a year ago, staff, colleagues, and co-workers have been nothing but affirming and supportive from the start.”
“I am so happy that Matt has Matt back,”
said Charlene, mother to Matt C., a current Phase III resident of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.
Growing up, Matt was an all-around gifted athlete. An excellent baseball player, Matt had found his passion and his identity. “Matt was a very happy child,” recalled Charlene. “He probably struggled with ADHD but we tried to handle it as parents.”
When Matt entered high school, he started going out and partying a lot. “It was not until Matt was a junior or senior that we started to notice things were off a little bit,” Charlene said. “Unfortunately, as parents, we put our blinders on a bit.”
Matt would successfully graduate from high school and go on to college, where he secured a position on the baseball team as a starting pitcher. “Everything seemed to be going great until Matt came home during the spring and told us that he simply wasn’t going back,” said Charlene. She recalls Matt stating, “I can’t go back. You don’t understand. I can’t.”
Right around Matt’s 21st birthday, he was arrested for DUI. A few months later, he was arrested for DUI for the second time and his license was suspended. “This is when things started going downhill,” said Charlene.
Matt was now living with his parents, and bouncing around from job to job. He even tried taking classes at a local community college. “He never left home and was constantly making excuses,” said Charlene. “This went on for years. It was one excuses after another. We had our parent blinders on and tried to get our son through whatever was going on.”
“We were getting pretty tired of it all, and tension was definitely building,” said Charlene.
A moment no parent will ever forget, Matt finally sat his parents down and told them that he was doing drugs and that he had a problem. “We were devastated, but picked up and said let’s get some help,” Charlene said. “Even though Matt was at the end of his rope, he didn’t really want recovery, he just wanted us off of his back.” Matt started receiving treatment, but continued to struggle.
“One day, I brought him to his monthly probation meeting, and that was the day he walked in the court house and did not walk out,” said Charlene. “He came out to let me know that he was going to jail. It was devastating. Looking at it now, it might’ve been the best thing that happened.”
Following Matt’s probation violation and jail sentence, Charlene and her husband started making plans to have Matt enrolled in treatment. “I got my things together and called Turnbridge, which I was looking at prior, but now knew it was time,” said Charlene. “I called in and spoke to Kristina, who was amazing, and I felt as if I was talking to her 24/7 and she was so helpful.”
Charlene requested a tour of the program and from that point on there was no turning back. “At the end of the tour, I knew that is where Matt needed to be,” she said. Charlene and her husband informed Matt of the decision to enroll him at Turnbridge.
“I cannot say enough about the men in that program.”
Matt would come directly from his next court appearance to Turnbridge. “We found a peace that I never thought we would find,” Charlene said. “The day that Matt Barba, Matt’s Phase I Case Manager, called John and I was the first time I felt relief in years. When I hung up the phone, I knew my Matt was going to be alright. That was the first of all of the wonderful people we went on to meet.”
“The family therapy sessions have opened up a whole new world for all of us,” said Charlene. She reflected that Matt has begun to renew his relationships with his sisters, who he adores and loves more than anything.
Matt continues to thrive in the Turnbridge program. One of his more symbolic accomplishments while at Turnbridge was the day he got his license renewed, and was able to start driving again.
Since coming to Turnbridge, Matt has also started playing baseball again, as well as participating in the Turnbridge Terrapins, the Men’s Ice Hockey team.
“We always knew Matt had gifts, but he never saw them until now,” Charlene said. As a Phase III resident, Matt has been mentoring Phase I residents, a responsibility he takes very seriously. Matt has a very outgoing personality and this opportunity gives him the chance to apply his gifts to the pursuit of helping others.
Born and raised in London, England, Danya came over to the United States during middle school.
Coming to the U.S. was a big change for Danya. “I had left everything I had ever known,” she said. “After we moved here when I was 13, that was that first time I remember experiencing depression,” said Danya. “It was really, really hard to adjust to everything. I just felt like I didn’t fit in.”
A neighborhood friend would end up introducing her to marijuana and alcohol. “This is when I remember finding people I felt comfortable around,” said Danya.
Danya remembers feeling like a big part of her struggles were due to feeling uncomfortable at her school. “It was very strict and people were not very helpful,” said Danya. During her freshman year of high school she began drinking alcohol more frequently.
Danya’s substance use began to escalate. She started experimenting with a variety of substances and her depression was worsening. “I ended up getting into a huge argument with my mom because I refused to go back to that school,” said Danya.
Danya eventually ended up switching schools. “I immediately made friends with the people who were smoking and drinking all the time,” said Danya. “I think this is when my addiction really kicked in.” Danya began skipping school more frequently, and was preoccupied with getting high.
“I would be crawling on the floor in the morning looking for drugs,” said Danya. “It didn’t occur to me at the time that it wasn’t a normal thing to do.”
Danya just barely graduated from high school. “My intelligence saved me because I never did anything, if I even went to school,” said Danya. “I would stay out late on the weekdays and wouldn’t even come home on weekends.”
“Somehow I got into college, and somehow I managed to get my parents to let me go,” said Danya. It didn’t take long for Danya to find herself back in the same scenario as home. “I was always seeking out people who were as sick as me,” she said. Danya attended classes for a couple of weeks before making the decision to go on the run with a friend. “We thought we were living the life,” said Danya. “I was given freedom and didn’t know what to do with myself and I needed someone to latch onto.”
“Nobody ever really knew the extent of my use,” said Danya. “Eventually, after meeting back up with my friend from college, I ended up overdosing.” After Danya’s parents learned of this incident, she was enrolled at a residential treatment center.
Danya completed treatment and transitioned to a sober house. “I lasted a couple weeks at the sober house and then packed up and left, with no regard for the feelings of my family,” said Danya. She came home to live with her parents and started attending a local IOP, but was unable to stop abusing substances. After doing their research, Danya’s parents eventually decided to enroll her at Turnbridge.
“I was so angry at first and all I talked about was getting high,” said Danya. She struggled at first to participate, or even get out of bed. But, this would soon change.
“I eventually made the decision that I was going to have a more positive attitude and surround myself with a solid crew of girls,” said Danya. After a few months of slow and steady progress, Danya started feeling joyful again, as well as having a sense of achievement.
“I can function as a normal member of society today,” said Danya. “The little things used to overwhelm me so much. If it’s just going to class, or showing up for work, I never used to be able to do those things.”
By the time she entered Phase III of Turnbridge, Danya found herself in a much better spot. “I just felt like things were getting a lot better,” she said.
Danya’s power of example was recognized, and as a result she was offered a job at Turnbridge in the food services department. Danya became the first ever female Turnbridge client to receive a job offer. “It is so amazing,” she said.
Danya has made huge strides in her life while at Turnbridge. She currently works and goes to school, while maintaining her sobriety and keeping it at the forefront. “My case manager, Danielle, is amazing,” said Danya. “Anytime I am getting angry, I go see her and she calms me down immediately. It’s amazing having someone guide you through early recovery.”
“I think the people at Turnbridge are amazing,” said Danya. “Having someone mentor you and someone you trust, not because you have to, but because you want to, is huge.”
“I am so grateful for everything,” Danya said.
In mid-December I attended a Turnbridge men’s hockey game. And in mid-January I attended the Turnbridge women’s talent show.
Both were absolutely moving in their own ways.
Take the hockey game first: there were men who have very little experience playing the game. There were men who have long wanted to get back to their favorite sport, but active addiction or mental health challenges stood in the way. And overall there was a great sense of camaraderie, not without some anger management skill-building.
And at the talent show: there were women who took chances with dance, humor, and song. There were women who shared messages inspired by their experiences. Every person used her voice whether by performance or cheering. A profound feeling of empowerment overtook the room that evening.
At work one of my primary encouragements is for every person to find what excites her or him. Just as recovery provides everyone a chance for a new life, recovery also provides every person opportunities to return to, start, and foster new hobbies, interests, and activities.
We can’t know if we like the arts until we visit a museum or attend a concert. We can’t know if we like a particular sport until we try it. What books do we enjoy unless we try several genres? And music: what a world for us to explore.
The (sassy) comedian Louis C.K. said, “’I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say... you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’”
We all have barriers to stepping out. Turnbridge offers young women and men the spaces they need to talk about what prohibits them from taking healthy risks, as well as the spaces they need to try, struggle, and succeed.
I often wonder if hope is a prerequisite to action. Given my experiences at the talent show and the hockey game, I posit that actions foster hope. Nike doesn’t sell shoes by telling us, Just Think About It. Get involved.
After multiple attempts at recovery, Max’s hard work at Turnbridge has finally led him to what he described as a “much better and happier way of life today.”
As a child, Max was a passionate athlete who loved all sports, especially hockey. “I love, love, love hockey,” he said. Max excelled in many areas of his life, and was highly motivated to succeed. However, this outlook changed dramatically when he began experimenting with alcohol. “It went downhill from there,” Max said.
From that point on, Max’s substance use continuously progressed in severity, eventually leading him to some very dark places. “When I go on runs, I become homeless very fast and lose everything,” said Max. “I was eventually working for a drug dealer to support my addiction since I had no money or job, and things got very ugly. I remember having to ask my mom for money to pay off people and I was so sick and felt like such a horrible person. I couldn’t even look at her in the eyes.”
“It got so bad and I was so tired, and full of shame,” said Max. After years of being in and out of treatment centers, Max finally decided he was ready to do the work necessary to recover. “I just wanted treatment, and there was no doubt in my mind that I needed it,” said Max. With the support of those who love him, Max made his way to Turnbridge.
“I was so gone,” said Max. “I knew I needed more than 30-days.”
Upon his arrival to Turnbridge, the reality of the damage he had done began to set in. “I was so miserable at first, but I had a good group of guys and staff to help push me through,” said Max. “I told myself I was not going to leave no matter how bad, or how good it got. I was going to finish the program. I had so much work to do on myself. I felt like I was deep in the hole and had to work to get out.”
After completing Phase I, Max’s Case Manager and other members of his support network helped to find the right job opportunity for Max. “I usually run from a job immediately after getting it,” said Max. This commitment came with its own set of stressors and triggers, but Max had built a support system around him to help him fight through it.
In Phase III, Max began to build lifelong friendships with the guys in the program. “That is when I really started to make some strong relationships with guys who held me accountable, and we had a lot of fun,” said Max. “Joining the hockey team and getting back on the ice was a huge part in keeping me motivated to get better.”
“I am super grateful for everything today,” said Max.
“I used to feel ashamed being around my family and today they want me around and miss me,” he said. “The best part of this whole thing is that my mom can call me, not crying, and be genuinely grateful that I am sober. She can call me about work, and the good things in my life. Words can’t really describe that feeling.”
Following Max’s successful completion of the Turnbridge program, he moved into a local sober home. “I never want to go back to the life I was living,” said Max. “I want to continue to move forward.”
16 Months James J.
13 MONTHS Sam B.
12 MONTHS Nathan G.
10 Months Sinclair M.
4 Months Zachary T.
Trevor Cv Sarah O.