“One of Turnbridge’s real claims to excellence, in my view, is that the young people are immersed in positive, fun recreational activities almost immediately. But there’s nothing like sending your hollowed-out child away, and then within a very short time seeing him replaced with a happy, hopeful young man who declares, “I didn’t know I could have so much fun and not be high.” Of course, that was only the beginning of his recovery, but I think if he hadn’t gotten this positive experience right off the bat, the success might not be there.
It was a long haul after that. Getting a job, receiving a bachelor’s degree -- those were just pipe dreams at one point when keeping him alive to fight another day was all I could hope for. My son has his life back. There isn’t enough thanks in the world for me to properly express my gratitude to David Vieau and this wonderful organization.”
- Jane, mother of a Turnbridge Alumni
Rec & Lifestyle
Kelly Barbeau, Jessica Giunta, Meghan Bresnahan
Kelly, Jessica, and Meghan are being recognized as November’s Turnbridge Unsung Heroes of the Month. As the Support Staff Managers of the Turnbridge Women’s Program, they have played an integral role in the success of the program since its launch in June. With countless early morning and late nights, they have gone to great lengths to ensure the highest level of service for our female clients.
“Being able to help young women who struggle with many of the same issues I have in the past is something that I never imagined would be possible,” Kelly said. With 7 years of her own recovery, Kelly has a great amount of experience, strength, and hope to share with the women. “I actually come to work every morning excited to see the smiles on our clients’ faces as they find their own path to recovery and freedom. It’s an indescribable feeling I get from seeing the light come back into the eyes of our ladies.”
“I have always wanted a career where I am able to give back,” said Meghan. “Turnbridge gives me that opportunity to be able to help young woman in recovery in the same way that I was helped.” Meghan began her Turnbridge career as a Shift Manager, but was soon promoted to Support Staff Manager.
“Working in the Woman's Program here at Turnbridge has been an incredible experience, especially being given the opportunity to be a part of the team since day one of the program,” Jessica said. “I may be able to teach these ladies a thing or two, but every day I learn something new from each and every one of them. Every day at Turnbridge is a totally new and different experience and I can't wait for what the future holds for all of us.”
According to Jim O., father of Turnbridge graduate, Casey O., Casey “was always a very bright kid.”
It was around high school age that Casey began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. “He was always partying in a neighboring town, and changing his appearance to fit in with that crowd,” said Jim.
Jim recalled a time in high school when he was actually doing a majority of Casey’s homework because “he had lost all of his motivation for school and sports.” Casey began staying out more and not coming home. “We really enabled all of that because we thought it was normal high school behaviors,” said Jim.
It was around this time that Jim started to suspect that Casey was smoking marijuana. The partying behavior persisted throughout Casey’s high school career. At one point during his senior year Jim confronted him for being under the influence on school grounds and Casey did not react well. Jim placed Casey in a local short-term residential substance abuse treatment program, and Casey returned to school immediately following his discharge. “He came back to school and was back on the football team, which in hindsight was a poor decision because he was playing high every day,” said Jim.
Casey ended up graduating, “miraculously”. He was voted to the All-State football team and went on to enroll at a local university to further his education. After a month of being in college, Casey was arrested, resulting in serious consequences. “He was put on probation and that is when we began to send him to more treatment centers,” Jim said. “But every time he would complete one, he would come home and revert to his old habits.”
“There was a real pull between the Casey that was using and couldn’t control himself and the Casey that wanted to really accomplish some incredible things,” Jim said. Casey was very intelligent and talented, as evidenced by his becoming a volunteer fireman and starting his own business. “At all of his jobs, everyone loved him,” said Jim. “But, he couldn’t show up to his shifts as a volunteer fireman, and couldn’t keep the business going because he couldn’t keep himself clean.”
Casey’s parents would send him off to treatment again and after a brief incident, Casey was sent to a psychiatric hospital where he received help from a top psychiatrist. “That week in there was the best thing that I think ever happened to him,” Jim said. “He kind of woke up and realized he needed help, and with the help of the psychiatrist he was willing enough to go to Turnbridge.”
Casey arrived at Turnbridge, and was a willing participant. “The structure and length of the program was a big factor for Casey’s success,” Jim said. After jumping in and taking the suggestions of others, Casey began to move forward through the program. “He was eventually able to come out on family passes and volunteer, and help others, and he really started to see there was hope,” Jim said. “He made so many great friends that he is still connected to today.”
“It takes a long time to recover and took a lot of people to help Casey realize there was a better life ahead of him,” Jim said. When Casey was in Phase III, his success did not go unnoticed and he was offered the position of House Manager.
Following the completion of his Turnbridge stay, Casey was hired as a Turnbridge Support Staff member, eventually growing into his current role as a member of the admissions team. “I know that Casey values his time there and values the opportunities he has to help people,” Jim said.
“It’s brought him back to me, back to his mother, and back to his three brothers,” Jim said. “It’s given us all of our family back and that is our most valuable possession. I have the best relationship with him today, better now than it ever was before he was using,” he said.
Today, Casey still lives in the local New Haven area and continues to help others on a daily basis. His story, and passion for helping others, is an inspiration for all who come through the doors at Turnbridge
Sam first noticed that he struggled with anxiety around the age of ten, but “didn’t really know what or how [he] was feeling.”
An athlete who enjoyed sports and always performed well in school, Sam says he felt “like a pretty normal kid growing up.” Sam’s real challenges came as he got older and reached high school. “In my head, I worried and had a lot of anxiety,” describes Sam.
In the summer before high school, Sam began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. “I really struggled with who I was and my identity,” he said. “Smoking pot was something that helped me meet people and it became my identity.” It did not take long before Sam was abusing marijuana on a very regular basis.
Sam would successfully graduate from high school, and performed very well academically. He would go on to enroll at Boston University. Around this time, Sam’s drug use expanded to include more substances. “I was uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Sam. While at school, Sam struggles culminated in a “mental breakdown”, which resulted in a leave of absence from the university.
Sam arrived back home and not much changed. “I was stuck with who I was and I had no aspirations,” Sam said. Sam’s parents took notice of this, and eventually decided to enroll him in a wilderness program, where he put together a couple months of sobriety. Sam completed the program and returned home. “When I got home, I was introduced to heroin and things immediately got worse,” he said. “I was so ashamed of what I was doing and I wanted to stop but I couldn’t.”
Sam eventually reached out to his Mom for help, and she got him into a medical detox, followed up by a 28-day program. “I thought I was doing 7 days and going back home,” he said. Following the 28-day program, Sam agreed to continue his treatment at Turnbridge.
Upon arrival, Sam called home stating he “didn’t want to go through meeting people again” as his anxiety began to rear its head. Slowly but surely, after taking the suggestions of those around him at Turnbridge, Sam began to feel more comfortable and “started realizing that I needed to relax and take some time to work on myself.”
“It was very hard for me to do the small things,” said Sam. Sam started to face his fears and began to work through them, not around them. “I started dealing with not feeling comfortable,” he said. “Once I start doing things during the day and being productive, I feel much better about myself.”
When Sam arrived to Phase III, he got a job and got back into school. “I was so glad to get back into school,” said Sam. “I am not as anxious as I once was, and I am aware of what it is. I am grateful for this program and the guys around me. I am doing so much better and I feel like I have got the rhythm.”
Re-Authoring Your Story: There are times we buy into the frame of not having control. We find ourselves embroiled in a single story, diminishing our capabilities without considering the multiple stories that are woven into our lives. It is then that we fall victim to the belief that we are powerless in changing our narrative.
A Glimpse Into Narrative Therapy
Narrative Therapy is a model that capitalizes on an individual’s strengths, rather than his weaknesses. It uses language to help a person re-author their lives; problem-saturated stories are no longer the focus, and therapists work with their clients to find unique outcomes that can be capitalized upon as an agent of change. One of the main principles of Narrative Therapy is to help a client understand the ways in which his problems influence his life and serves as a reminder that life is not just about the stories we tell, but also about the stories we have yet to discover.
This therapeutic process encourages the therapist and client to find openings in his narrative that haven't yet been storied by using the tool of externalization to separate the individual from the problem. Rather than someone being the problem, he is seen as having a relationship with the problem. Once the problem has been externalized, the client no longer sees himself as inherently flawed or problematic. He is encouraged to discover experiences that are contrary to the problem-saturated story and unearth unique outcomes, experiences not yet predicted by that same problem-saturated story. These unique outcomes can be as simple as doing something differently in response to a problem, which then helps to make new meaning of that problem and prepare himself to have a different kind of relationship with it.
By discovering these unique outcomes in his own personal history, the client is able to take ownership of that story and use it as motivation for change.
This model of therapy enables us to grow in new ways as we continue to re-write our lives. As we determine how our stories unfold, we create a space for ourselves where we can make new and positive associations with what was once a problem-saturated story. The role of the therapist is one who listens and guides, bearing in mind that despite years of education and experience, the client holds the agency of change
As a child, Steve explains how he “got everything he ever needed and was a part of a very loving family.”
As a he got older, Steve found a passion for wrestling and other sports, and was a very bright young man. “I wouldn’t say I was the popular kid, but I could fit in with any crowd,” said Steve. He describes himself, at this young age, as “straight-edge” and never had any interest in drinking or using any substances.
Throughout high school, Steve was very focused on his health. He was an active gym member and an accomplished wrestler. “I think what really kept me away from drinking and getting high was the fear of what it could do,” he said. During these years, Steve struggled with acne and states “I had some serious trouble with insecurities because of it.” Steve also struggled with social anxiety and believes he was addicted to working out. Steve’s first substance use came when he was sixteen and he tried alcohol for the first time. “I had a really good time but didn’t think much of it.”
Steve graduated from high school and went on to attend college, away from a lot of his good friends who attended other schools. “I struggled a lot that first year,” said Steve. Steve was introduced to marijuana, and found an interest in it. “I quickly went from occasionally smoking to smoking every day.”
His life began to spiral downhill as the partying and drinking escalated. He began experimenting with a greater variety of substances. “I was lying and stealing from my work,” said Steve. “I was taking really big risks and getting a thrill out of it.”
Steve was trying to manage work as a bartender, hanging out with friends, and maintaining a relationship with a girlfriend. “I couldn’t give enough focus to my girlfriend because I wanted to drink, so she left me,” he said.
After a particularly heavy night of drinking, Steve’s mother confronted him and helped enroll him in an inpatient substance abuse treatment center. “I was sent to treatment with a bunch of guys who made fun of me because I didn’t do the same drugs as them,” said Steve. After a relapse in the program, he was sent back home and tried AA locally. “I didn’t really put in any effort and didn’t dive into the program.”
Steve soon began drinking again, and was fired from work for drinking on the job. “I was doing cocaine and drinking and it was causing serious turmoil,” Steve said. He would go on to crash two cars due to his drinking, and spend his insurance reimbursement on drugs and alcohol. “I didn’t stop drinking for months before coming to Turnbridge,” he said.
After getting kicked out of the house, and fired from another job, Steve was pulled over for drinking and driving. “The officer didn’t arrest me and assisted me in getting to treatment and my mother picked me up and took me to Turnbridge,” he said.
“Within my first 10 hours of being at Turnbridge, I was playing flag football and was having a great time,” said Steve. “I had experienced powerlessness and was ready to change things up. I got back into things that I took pride in before drinking. I started working out again and playing the guitar and just hanging out with sober guys having fun. I took advice, took suggestions, got a sponsor and started working the steps.”
Steve states his Turnbridge experience “flew by” and it was “time well spent.” After continuing to put in hard work, build relationships, trying to do the right thing, and ask for help, Steve made a complete turnaround for the better. “I am so grateful for Turnbridge and everything they did for me.”
“Turnbridge really set me up with the opportunity to live a sober life and took me away from my old lifestyle for long enough to focus on my future,” Steve said. As a Phase III resident, Steve became a House Manager, got his degree, and continued to focus on his recovery. “When I got out, I felt like I had this new life in place and they helped me achieve this with a smooth transition back into society. I had support from the whole community. I think the biggest benefit of the length of the program is how long you’re away from the substances to find new hobbies and healthy habits. It feels like I have something to hold onto and don’t want to give it away.”
14 MONTHS Andrew R.
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