My thanks run deep - for all you have personally done, the words you have spoken that have helped me to calm my own fears, and the people that Turnbridge has put in my son’s “inner circle” who consistently are available to help guide him every day.
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
It’s that time of the year again. Baseball is back! This month, a group of the Phase III clients in the Turnbridge Men’s Program headed up to Fenway Park in Boston for a Red Sox game.
For some clients it was an opportunity to experience something new with a clear head, and for others it was a nostalgic experienced.
“I used to go to watch games with my dad all the time before my addiction really took a hold on my life,” recalled Phase III client, Joe K. “It was a lot of fun to spend the day at the ballpark with my sober friends while doing something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve also never been to Fenway Park or Boston. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my first time in Boston.”
“We had a great time in Boston and it was great being able to show the guys the city for their first time,” Turnbridge staff member and Boston native, Mike Baressi, said. “I look forward to more games at Fenway. Go Sox!”
Now that we’re well into Spring, there will be many more MLB games on the schedule. Upcoming on the recreation calendar are several Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox games.
“Having fun was something my addiction took from me,” said Joe K. “Now that I am sober, I feel like I can truly have fun again.”
One of the very first faces you see when arriving to Turnbridge, Casey brings a multitude of positivity and sense of comfortability, right when you walk in.
Casey’s journey at Turnbridge began as a client several years ago. He excelled so much as a client that, immediately upon graduation, he was invited to join the team as an employee. Since his hire, Casey has occupied numerous roles within the company. In early 2016, Casey was tapped to apply his knowledge and experience to a new role within the admission department.
“Turnbridge has a special place in my heart,” said Casey. “As the program that helped me build a life worth living, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to give back. Knowing what it was like to be a client gives me a level of empathy in seeing our clients’ growth process and that is special to me.”
“My life in recovery today is truly beyond my wildest dreams,” said Casey. “When I came into the program I was told that things would get better. I brushed it off at the time, but in hindsight things in my life truly have become infinitely better. I have a solid relationship with my brothers and parents, peace of mind, and reachable aspirations. It’s hard to put a price tag on these things.”
“Being a part of the Turnbridge family has been an excellent experience,” said Casey. “Mentors like Jamie Hazelton, John Palmer, and Dave Vieau have been instrumental in both my professional and personal growth. I appreciate the recognition and see the importance of showing people that this program works. It certainly can feel thankless at times but seeing the difference we are making in young people’s lives constantly renews my sense of purpose.”
Susan R., mother to Turnbridge Alum, Mike R., described Mike’s childhood as “very typical.”
Like many children, Mike was active in sports, camping, skiing, and many other activities. “He was about 12 when we first noticed a change in his attitude,” recalled Susan, “such as dropping out of sports, picking new friends who were not the best influences, misbehaving at school, and experimenting with marijuana.” This time marked the beginning of Mike’s burgeoning addiction, a problem that would go on to last nearly a decade. Today, Mike is an active and responsible member of the community. He continues to work for Turnbridge and is furthering his education through classes at a local college. “We enjoy spending time with him now,” said Susan. “More importantly, he enjoys spending time with us again. We’ve watched him mature into a responsible, respectable man. We’re so glad we found Turnbridge and are grateful to have our son back.”
“His behavior got progressively worse and it was stressful on the whole family,” Susan said. Mike’s parents tried everything, from medications and therapy to punitive measures such as revoking privileges and grounding him, but neither approach seemed to have any effect on him. “As it became apparent to other people, family, friends, neighbors, and teachers, that Mike was involved with drugs they seemed to withdraw,” said Susan. “They seemed to not know how to act around us or didn’t want their kids to associate with us. Mike was always the first kid teachers and administrators suspected when someone did something inappropriate and I think that weighed heavily on him and caused him to misbehave all the more.”
“The stress and worry consumed us,” said Susan. “We tried to keep things as normal as possible for his sister’s sake but that was an impossible task. Kids would make comments to her, which was humiliating and embarrassing for her. That was so painful for us because we knew what a great kid Mike was when he wasn’t under the influence.” Due to behavioral issues, Mike was eventually asked to leave his junior high school and enrolled at an alternative junior high school. Shortly after arriving at the alternative junior high school, Mike was found in possession of an illegal substance and was expelled. From there, Mike was sent to a therapeutic boarding school.
“He had no access to drugs at the therapeutic boarding school and did very well,” said Susan. Mike spent 14 months at the therapeutic boarding school and subsequently returned to his local public high school. “At first when he returned he seemed to be doing well, but as the school year moved along we started to see him slip and eventually he was back at it.”
Mike’s substance abuse progressed to prescription pain pills and heroin. Mike attended a few short-term treatment programs during this time, but he still struggled to maintain abstinence for very long. Having learned through trial and error that short-term treatment was not going to be effective for Mike, Susan enrolled him in a 90-day inpatient program and began researching extended care programs for him to attend after completing the 90 days. “When that program was completed, he knew, as well as did we, that he couldn’t come home afterward,” said Susan. “So, we looked into all kinds of programs and that’s when we found Turnbridge.”
Mike arrived at Turnbridge and initially resisted the structure. Slowly but surely, Mike began to let his guard down. As he began forming connections with his peers and trusting his care team, he started feeling better and appeared more optimistic. “He had a pretty positive attitude and didn’t seem to want to do drugs anymore,” said Susan.
Mike would go on to complete Phases I and II at Turnbridge. Toward the end of his stay in Phase III he was offered a job as a Support Staff member, a role that would allow him to serve as a mentor to newer Turnbridge clients. Upon graduation from Turnbridge, Mike decided to stay in the New Haven area and moved into an apartment with two other young men who were completing the program at the same time.
Originally from Connecticut, Ryan grew up in a supportive family and attended reputable schools.
Despite these favorable circumstances, Ryan faced some difficulties as a child. “I remember as a kid struggling a lot with paying attention and with lack of motivation,” Ryan said. “I wasn’t the best student academically.”
In Ryan’s sophomore year of high school, he was prescribed a stimulant medication to help with these symptoms. “I didn’t do any testing or anything,” recalled Ryan. “I went to my primary care doctor and said I couldn’t focus, and walked out with a prescription.” When Ryan started taking this medication he noticed an immediate change. “My grades went from below average to top of my class,” said Ryan. “My social life went from none, to everything. My friends went from a few, to everyone. I felt like I could rule the world on that stuff.” Ryan would go on to complete high school and enroll at a college in Ohio.
“Once I got to college, I started drinking and smoking heavily while still on my medication,” said Ryan. Ryan eventually began abusing his prescribed medication by taking more than the indicated dose. “My anxiety had increased so much from taking the amphetamine and I began using alcohol to suppress it.”
Ryan started to experience some difficulties as a result of his substance use, but in many cases was shielded from the natural consequences. “I never saw many of the consequences in my life,” recalled Ryan. “I would get arrested and my dad would take care of it.”
Following his sophomore year in college, Ryan landed an internship at a marketing company in Minnesota, but his father decided he would not financially support the opportunity unless Ryan completed outpatient treatment. Ryan attended treatment, but did not take it seriously. “I believed I was just there because I was on my ADHD medications and just needed to stop taking them,” said Ryan. Ryan stopped attending his sessions after two weeks and was allowed to pursue the internship anyway.
Ryan’s use continued and his physical health started to decline rapidly. He lost a significant amount of weight and began abusing benzodiazepines as the alcohol was no longer effective in tempering his anxiety Despite his escalating drug problem, Ryan was very good at manipulating his loved ones into thinking he was doing okay. “I could make my parents think I was doing great, even when I was failing in every aspect,” recalled Ryan.
Finally, Ryan had gotten so bad that he could no longer convincingly feign that all was well. During his junior year in college, Ryan’s parents forced him to drop out of school. “At home, I started going to counseling sessions and everyone was telling my parents I needed treatment and to not let me go back to school,” said Ryan. “But I begged and manipulated them to let me go back. I went back on the promise that I would get good grades and I would stay clean.”
“I got back to school and immediately things went terribly,” said Ryan. “My grades were awful. My health was worse. Everything got worse. I was aware of my problem and knew that there was a serious issue, so I threw in the white flag.” Ryan called his parents and finally asked for help. His parents quickly sprang into action and started researching programs. They were referred to Turnbridge by a therapeutic consultant and the next day Ryan was checking in.
“I had an open mind to everything and wanted to be successful so badly,” said Ryan. “I wanted to give this a serious shot.” Ryan took suggestions and did what was asked of him despite his apprehension. He quickly started feeling connected to the community, forging supportive relationships with his peers as well as his care team at Turnbridge.
Initially, Ryan struggled with opening up and being vulnerable, but his pushed through these uncomfortable feelings. “As I continued on through the program, things eventually became clear to me as I continued to learn so much about myself,” said Ryan. “I forced myself to do the things I didn’t want to do.” Ryan’s transformation has been profound. While in Phase III, Ryan was offered a position as House Manager, a position reserved for clients who are active leaders, role models, and positive influences in the community.
Today, Ryan is nearing his graduation from the Turnbridge program. “I am back in school at a local university and have straight A’s,” reflected Ryan. He will also be taking on a marketing position at a clothing company this summer. “My favorite part of all of this is my relationship with my parents,” said Ryan. “They always want to see me and talk to me and I can tell they trust me and are proud of me. I am so grateful for everything about this journey. All of the external things are great, but the best part is my relationship with family.”
Families in Recovery
Addiction is a family disease. Before receiving support, families attempt to help their loved one’s struggle with addiction and they become entangled in a dance where the primary focus is the addiction and addict’s behavior. Once entangled, families have difficulty seeing how they are impacted by this dance. So just as their loved one needs treatment for their addiction and recovery, family members benefit from professional and community support to recover from the effects of living with a love one in active addiction. The engagement in recovery by family members can create an informed and loving family environment for their loved one to return to after treatment.
The loving support of family is a significant ally for any person struggling with addiction. Because families have been impacted by their loved one’s addiction, they need support too. When families engage in their own recovery, they disentangle the ways in which they have been impacted by addiction and learn new ways of living to support their own and their loved one’s recovery.
Turnbridge offers a number of avenues for family involvement and support. Families are encouraged to seek out local support groups in their area. Local support groups offers families an opportunity to hear in another voice stories of their struggle and to feel the support of community. Community support offers an antidote to the isolation and aloneness that often accompanies families contending with addiction.
When a family member is struggling with addiction, it is a call for love - love with awareness. A loved one’s recovery from addiction is significantly enhanced by the loving support of family that is informed and engaged in their own recovery. When a family is engaged in their recovery, through personal healing and community support, this enhances a family’s capacity to love their struggling family member and to positively support this loved one’s recovery without losing themselves.
Henry first experienced mood-altering chemicals in the 7th grade when he tried marijuana for the first time.
“I saw a lot of older kids doing it and I decided it was something I wanted to do,” said Henry. He didn’t know it then, but this was start of what would eventually become Henry’s greatest struggle.
“My entire high school life was filled with habitual marijuana use and binge drinking, plus experimenting with everything else,” said Henry. Despite his escalating substance abuse problem, Henry was able to complete high school and subsequently enroll in a music production school in Florida. Henry always had a deep infatuation with music and this was an opportunity to pursue this interest as a vocation. “My parents got me a condo and a car and I was on my way,” said Henry. “They set me up with everything I needed, and more.”
Henry arrived in Florida and starting meeting new people. He found himself drawn to a peer group that shared an interest in music, but was also heavily involved with drug use. “I started doing drugs I had never done before once I got down there,” said Henry. It wasn’t long until his choices and behaviors were affecting his academic performance. Nonetheless, his drug abuse continued to escalate.
“I eventually started isolating a lot more,” recalled Henry. It was around this time that Henry began to notice that he was experiencing withdrawal symptoms when he would stop using substances, but continued to rationalize his behavior, telling himself “it wasn’t really that bad.”
One fateful night, Henry got into a serious car accident while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but fortunately he didn’t suffer any major injuries. “I was really messed up off a cocktail of things,” recalled Henry. “By the grace of God, neither myself or my friend who was in the car with me were hurt.” Following the accident, Henry’s father made his way to Florida to help Henry deal with the situation.
While Henry and his father were in Florida, his father notified him about a family member that was very ill and who wanted Henry to come see her. “I didn’t want to but it was almost like my first ‘God Shot’, where I knew I should go see her so I agreed to go,” said Henry. The night prior to leaving, Henry passed out in his room. When his dad checked on him he found a bag full of prescription pills. “He didn’t say anything until we were back home,” said Henry. “He knew that if he said something, I most likely would not have gone back with him.” Once confronted, Henry was given the option to get help and he accepted.
“Looking back at it, I feel like it was God looking after me, getting me back home and to eventually accept help,” said Henry.
Henry enrolled at an inpatient treatment center, but was just biding his time until he could come back home and didn’t invest himself in the work he was doing there. Henry’s intentions were to return back home after a short stay. Toward the end of this treatment episode, Henry’s treatment team recommended extended care, which he initially refused. When it became clear to Henry that his continued financial support from family was contingent on following the treatment recommendations of the professionals, Henry accepted the help and made his way to Turnbridge.
“I was extremely scared, depressed and full of anxiety when I first arrived,” said Henry. “I was uncomfortable and didn’t want to be at Turnbridge at this point.” Slowly but surely, Henry started to build some friendships in the community at Turnbridge and started to take the suggestions being made to him by his care team. He also took advantage of the Turnbridge Music Studio every opportunity he got.
As Henry neared completion of Phase I at Turnbridge he had made a lot of progress and formed some meaningful connections, but he still had reservations. “I was still thinking, alright, I’ll do Phase II and then I’ll leave,” said Henry. Henry arrived in Phase II and continued to do the work involved. As a result, he continued to feel better and better. “I was just having fun with the guys and going to meetings, and things were coming together,” Henry said.
Once in Phase III, Henry was invested in the process and his plan of leaving fell by the wayside. “It wasn’t that bad,” said Henry. “Things started getting really good so why leave? I was able to become goal-oriented and accept the outcome regardless of what happened.”
“There was no arguing that being sober was my best choice,” said Henry. “My music, relationships, holding a job, moving forward every day... I just couldn’t find a ‘why not’ anymore. I had a rise and grind mentality and was doing great.”
Once Henry let go, his progress really started to take off. In Phase III, he successfully obtained and held down a job. He eventually earned back his car and used that privilege to help newer clients in the program get to Twelve Step meetings. Henry became a positive presence in the Turnbridge community, consistently putting his hand out to help newcomers and share his experience, strength, and hope.
“One of the biggest things I have is my relationship with God,” said Henry. “I pray every day. For life, shelter, my sobriety, my future, everything. It keeps me centered. I try to wake up every day and direct my thinking toward what can I do to learn today.”
“Today I recognize that my goals and aspirations are only possible if I am working on my recovery,” said Henry. “I keep everything I have by helping and giving to others.”
16 MONTHS Matt B.
15 MONTHS Eric D.
13 Months Gabriel J.
11 Months Stephanie B.
9 MONTHS Angelica K.
Benjamin G. Bryce D.
7 MONTHS Jamie C.
6 MONTHS Renuka K.
5 MONTHS Patrick W.
4 MONTHS Chanoch M.
3 MONTHS Ian D.
2 MONTHS Brett K.