“We just want to thank Turnbridge for a wonderful [Family Education] weekend... We have gone through many emotions since [our son] has entered your program and learned this weekend, it’s ok. The presenters, Lauren, Diana, Jonathan, the alumni and others were incredible with the information they provided to us. We met parents who are going through similar situations as ours, it was such a comfort to discuss our situations and exchange phone numbers. I have already this morning texted with another mom.
[My son] seems to be doing well, taking your program seriously. I can’t explain the different feeling we got from him both times we visited him this weekend. I know there will be ups and downs, but right now we are very pleased with his progress. He gave my husband and I a coin he got for 30 days. He looks good and hopefully will succeed in your program.”
- A grateful parent
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
This past month, clients at Phase 1 and 2 of the Women’s Program attended a Color Run at Southern Connecticut State University that was being held to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health.
A Color Run is a 5k untimed event. Participants wear white and are doused in different color powders at each kilometer mark. They are then met at the finish line with a party filed with music, dancing, vendors and activity booths. This 5k event, however, isn’t a traditional timed race. The event caters to both first timers and seasoned athletes, with the emphasis being on community, fun and charity.
You’ll find The Color Run all across the country, each making an effort to raise money for a specific cause. To date, The Color Run has donated over $5 million to various charities, both local and national.
Cara H., Support Staff who accompanied the women said, “The Color Run was themed around mental health awareness and used the slogan ‘walk it out and talk it out’. The top placing participants won water bottles. Four of our clients were among the first to cross the finish line!” One of the top finishing few, Chloe S., said “It was amazing! It was so cool that it involved being active while giving back to a larger movement. It was awesome to get to do it with friends.”
Not only was it a fun physical activity, but the SCSU Communications Club made a speech about the importance of talking out our issues and addressing mental health. “The overall experience was a blast,” said Cara. “It was so cool to see the girls laughing and participating in something together.”
“The color run helped me to realize I can have fun sober,” said Phase 2 client Cassidy K. “I realized that day that we can thrive together.”
Joanne C. is the Unsung Hero for the month of May.
Joanne is a Support Staff member at Phase 3 in the Women’s Program. “I have been working at Turnbridge for over two years. What initially started out as a part time job has turned into a true gift and rewarding experience.”
Joanne is well loved by clients and staff alike and constantly shows up with a positive attitude. “Turnbridge has given me the opportunity to not only witness but also participate in creating an environment that fosters the recovery of some truly outstanding women.”
As a phase 3 staff member Joanne spends her nights immersed in the community. “Each evening I get to hear about positive changes going on in [client’s] lives. It's amazing to see them grow and develop their life skills.”
Turnbridge holds a special place in Joanne’s heart. “I love working to make a difference, even if it's only a small one, in the lives of these women. It fills me with gratitude. Working with the other highly dedicated staff, I honestly feel like a part of a community like never before.”
Kelley K. is the mother of Phase 3 Men’s Program resident, Kyle K.
“We have been on this journey for a good long while,” said Kelley of her son Kyle’s path to recovery. “He’s 26 and it all started when he was 15. We didn’t realize until he was 17 that he had been experimenting with [drugs and alcohol] in junior high and high school. This process has been long and exhausting”.
Kelley describes her son as a typical Texas teenager. “He was a star athlete, popular- he just had everything going for him.” It wasn’t long before Kelley noticed a change in him. “We started noticing signs of his school work dropping off. When we finally figured it out, we came home one day and he was just passed out on the couch. We took him to the ER. That’s when it came out what he was taking and how bad it was. It was heroin and opiates. We bawled, we cried. As far as we knew, our lives would be different forever. We knew it would not be an easy journey and we have been on that journey now ever since.”
For Kelley and her husband, this was shocking news. “It was just awful. We were blind. We did not know where to go or what to do. [Addiction] has never affected my husband and I or anyone in our immediate family. We did not know what to do.”
Staff at the hospital suggested they take Kyle immediately from there into an inpatient facility. “We thought ‘No, let us go home, let us talk about this.’ We went home but had we known then what we know now, we would have taken him to treatment right away.”
Kelley and her husband made an effort to help Kyle while maintaining his school and extracurricular life by trying outpatient treatment. “He was on the baseball team, the football team. He had all kinds of stuff going on in his world. We thought we’d get him into IOP and see what happens.” This solution did not last long as Kyle’s old patterns emerged. “After a few months it got severe. We got a call from the school one day that he was passed out again. We knew this was not working.” From there, Kyle entered an inpatient treatment program, however, he was on a merry go round of inpatient and outpatient treatments for years before coming to Turnbridge.
“It had gotten to a point where it was out of hand. He’d been to the same thirty-day program a few times. It got to the point where he was in and out. He couldn’t hold down a job, he had gone to jail a few times. He tried a sober living community and that fell apart after a few weeks,” explains Kelley. “He was truly on the verge of death.”
Finally, a counselor recommended long term treatment. “Turnbridge is Kyle’s first residential long term treatment. It has always been thirty days but now we know that’s not an option. I wish there was more education out there- at the time we had no clue. Now, this is our first journey through long term care and it’s the first time he’s been sober this long. Sometimes, we thought he'd been doing well for a while, but he later told us he has never made it 90 days [sober] in the entire time 10 years we've been doing this- until now. He is now almost 11 months sober. If you would have told me back then that’d he'd be where he is now, I'd would say ‘I hope so, but I don’t see it.’ He was in such bad shape. We never gave up hope but we also didn’t know if it would ever get any better. We had to try something different and that’s where we are now. He’s doing amazing. It’s a miracle”.
While Kyle worked on his recovery, Kelley had healing to do of her own. “I need to work on me because it's been all about Kyle for the past 10 years. [During that time] you forget about yourself. You go into survival mode just to keep him alive. My husband and I now both work on ourselves. For me, that means changing how we communicate with [Kyle]. There’s a lot of habits we are trying to break. For one, we try not automatically think he’s lying or question him.” Setting boundaries and working on building this trust back was key for Kelley, as she and Kyle were across the country. “I got so used to calling him constantly to make sure he’s alive and I don’t have to do that anymore. I still catch myself wanting to call him all the time to make sure he’s okay and I’m trying to let go of that. I’m working on my own piece and changing old habits.”
Recently, Kelley was able to have Kyle home for a visit. “Unfortunately he’s so far away so we don’t get to visit much but he did come home a few weeks ago and it was so amazing. He was laughing, he was talking and I didn’t catch myself questioning every move he made or looking at his eyes to see if he was sober. I said to him ‘you are like your old self’. It was an amazing transformation and it was just so nice to spend time with him. He spent time with his younger brother who has always longed for a relationship with Kyle. I know he’s still got work to do, but it was like everything was normal.”
Currently, Kyle is in school to be an electrician. “It’s a miracle. I mean, I didn’t think he was going to get to the point where he'd be back in school. Kyle’s a brilliant and bright person but all of that had been gone for so long. When he signed up for school I thought ‘Oh my gosh, he’s really doing it!’”.
Kyle’s recovery has been healing for the whole family. “It's amazing now that I can go out and have a life,” said Kelley. “My mind still rarely leaves him but now I don’t feel fear. Now its wondering how is day is going or how school was instead of whether or not he is alive. This experience has been transformative for the whole family. It's amazing, I can breathe again.”
Neha S. is a Phase 3 client in the Women’s Program.
Growing up in Maryland, Neha found herself drawn to substance use as a means to “fit in” with her peers. “It was really hard growing up in an Indian family because at home, I lived with all these cultural values and when I went to school, society seemed completely different. I was always trying to morph to wherever I was at. I had all these masks and I didn’t know what my own face looked like.”
Through experimenting with drugs and alcohol in late middle school and early high school, Neha found herself falling in with a group of like-minded people. “I started smoking weed and I met all these people that also enjoyed smoking weed,” she remembers. “That quickly became my identity. I was that stoner who hung out with the stoners.” Despite this drug use, Neha managed to maintain good grades throughout high school. “I always still cared about school. Everything seemed okay on the surface. It didn’t cause problems at first. Nothing became unmanageable until I got a little bit older.”
As Neha moved onto college, not only did her academic horizons expand, but her drug use broadened as well. “[In college] someone would bring acid and I started doing that. I was always a kid who was curious,” Neha explains. “I trying harder drugs every now and then.”
Up until this point, Neha had used drugs out of curiosity and in an attempt to find a group to which she belonged. Not long after, she found the substance that would lead her down a darker path. “I didn’t fully fall in love with something until I was introduced to Xanax. I had always suffered from a lot of anxiety issues. When I popped my first Xanax bar I loved and I ran with that.”
From them on, Neha began to use substances for self-medication instead of partying with friends. “My friends changed as my using changed. I hung out with the really smart kids who focused on school, even though I'd been popping pills.” As Neha began to use more frequently, her priorities when it came to friendships started to change.” My friend group kept adapting to this lifestyle I was living. I lost every friends possible. Eventually, the people I hung out with didn’t care about me, they just wanted to get high with me. That’s what I wanted. I didn’t want anybody to care about me or tell me what I was doing was wrong. I just wanted people to get messed up with and for that to be the extent of our friendship.” Neha found herself living what she described as a “double even triple life.”
“In order to keep up with school, I needed uppers. My life became a balancing act; downers to feel okay and uppers to be functional. I got really into coke and everything went downhill. I didn’t have any money and couldn’t hold down a job. I became a thief. I would rob people, stores anything I could steal. I got arrested a couple of times and each time the charges got heavier and heavier.”
Her addiction continued to take a toll on her life and Neha continued to keep up the charade in front of her parents. Mostly, she felt it was out of concern for them. “I just didn’t want them to worry. I didn’t want them to know I wasn’t okay,” she explained.
Throughout the downward spiral, Neha managed to graduate college with a degree in Healthcare Management and Business Administration. Unsure of her next step, Neha turned to her parents for guidance. “We decided I was going to move home for a couple months, save money and look for a real job with my degree.” Once she moved home, Neha’s façade began to crumble. “My parents obviously realized something was wrong. I weighed 94 pounds.” They immediately became suspicious and did some investigation of their own. “They always invaded my privacy- for the best. I always smelled like weed or alcohol and they’d find pills and vials for coke in my room.”
Once the act was up, Neha’s parents did their best to help. “Another thing with Indian culture it's hard to accept that somebody has a problem. They accepted that I had a depression and anxiety problem so they send me to a depression and anxiety clinic.” Eventually, Neha stopped showing up. She gave an IOP program a shot and had a similar experience after meeting a guy in the program. “We both ended up leaving. I left my house and my parents didn’t hear from me for a couple weeks. I was doing a bunch of drugs; literally anything I could get my hands on. I was at the point where I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I couldn’t cope with reality. I had a 5-day window where I did acid every single day and at that point, I realized I needed help.”
Neha got advice from the man she left her IOP program with. “He had been clean before and showed me a thirty-day treatment center. He told me ‘It will really help you. Call your mom. You should call your mom.’” For Neha, this was her first attempt at taking advice, something she would later consider one of the most helpful parts of her recovery. In this moment, Neha became willing to ask for help and accept it.
“[Going to treatment] was the best decision I ever made. I was lucky enough to have the gift of desperation. Anything anyone told me to do, I would do it. My counselor suggested to me extended care and I knew if I went home it would not end well. My parent showed me Turnbridge and after my thirty-day program we drove straight there.”
Neha remembered initially wanting to “get through” three months of Turnbridge and return home. “When I got here, I realized I needed more help than that. I didn’t want to go home. I knew I needed help, I just didn’t know what kind of help. All I knew was that I didn’t want to go back to how I had been living.” Once realizing this, she made a conscious decision to commit to her treatment. “I really immersed myself in the program. I took meeting seriously. I got myself a sponsor I really trusted. I work the steps. I really hit the ground running and took every suggestion possible. I knew I just did not know how to live and I needed others to show me.”
This act of total surrender has been crucial to Neha’s recovery. “I know I have a strong support network at Turnbridge and I make sure to utilize it. I talk to my case manager anytime I want. Now, I run my big decisions by my sponsor, case manager or [peers] because I have strong people to rely on for guidance. Today I can control my anxiety and I have never felt better.”
“Now, I have a year and a month clean. I know that life is still hard and I have to deal with life on life’s terms. I’ve gone through issues [in sobriety] and I just try to do my best and stay clean. I continue to work my program when things get hard and lean on people I know will be there.”
Through Neha’s journey through addiction- from searching for an identity to coping with mental health issues Neha hopes to use her experience to help others. “I started the [Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counselor] program at [Gateway Community College]. I have about a year and a half left.” Neha hopes to combine this knowledge with her Healthcare Management Degree to build herself a career helping others. “I got clean at 22. I notice a lot of people trying to get clean younger. In my experience, every I met when I came into recover was older and whenever I found someone who was younger and got clean, I related to the better. I hope I can use my perspective to help somebody somewhere down the road.”
Austin R. is an alumni of the Men’s Program.
A New Jersey native, Austin recalls experimenting with drugs and alcohol in his early teen years. “I started drinking at 12 or 13 and then got into pills shortly after that. I partied a lot in high school but I still got good grades, I was a varsity athlete, I had a lot of friends so it didn’t really affect me. I just partied and had a good time.”
This idea of partying hard and maintaining a life that looked normal on the surface became a theme in Austin’s life as he continued to college. “I went away to New Orleans for school and didn’t do pills while I was there I only did them when I went back home on break. My junior year, I got into them and things got bad. I made bad decisions, did some bad things, messed some things up for myself.”
After graduation Austin moved back home to New Jersey and found himself without the comfort of school and his peers. “Going from college where you have 100 people you could hit up whenever is pretty lonely and boring. I got back into pills again.”
Despite his habit getting out of control, Austin managed to maintain a composed exterior by living on his own and holding down a job. “I was working in New York for a little while and I ended up moving back home to work for the family business.” During this time, the stresses of everyday life began to catch up with him.
“Things got worse because of all those everyday things you need to do,” Austin said. “Work, pay bills. It was all the little things that got to me. All the things a normal person needs to do, it just got difficult.” He knew he was on a path of self-destruction, but was struggling to change the road he was on. “My dad and sister are both in recovery so I was aware of it. I think I was just seeing how long I could push it before it all collapsed. My family was definitely worried about me. It took a toll on them. My dad and sister would try to do little things here and there to help me, but they knew they would not be able to convince me to [get help] unless I wanted it for myself. They kind of just let me run my course, which really was the only thing that could have helped me.”
This pattern continued for years. “I somehow kept up with work and bills and everything. I kept up the façade even though people could tell something was up.” At 21, Austin tried an inpatient treatment program. “I went to a rehab in Pennsylvania for about two and a half weeks. I had no real intention of doing the work so I got high the day I got out. After that, [my drug use] got really progressive. I was doing more and more, spending thousands of dollars per week. Around then, heroin found its way in. I guess it was a race against time for whenever I’d crash.”
Before coming to Turnbridge, Austin said “I’d been trying to quit for some time but I’d been at work and had to show face and had so much stuff going on. I went to a doctor to get medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms so I could manage it myself while still working. It did not work and I ended up calling my parents. I told them I was going to come home and I needed some help.”
Austin went to a detox for seven days and immediately came to Turnbridge. “At that point, I was pretty spent. I was drained. I was tired.” His desperation put things into perspective for him and he knew he was right where he needed to be. “I was just ready. It was my time. I’m not going to say it was easy for me but the fact that I’d been so stressed the last couple of years, it was nice to get a break.” Finally, Austin was able to take time for himself and work on habits that had haunted him for over a decade.
Austin has graduated the program and recently moved out of Thrive into a house with other sober men. “I’m turning 26. I want to do something with my life. My family was extremely supportive and helpful throughout so that made it easier.” He is now pursuing a master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology.
“For the foreseeable future I plan on staying in the area. The grad program locks me in here foe another year and half so it gives me time to figure out what I want to do. Living here, things are just a little quieter, a little simpler.
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