“Since being referred to Turnbridge, I have started to see a change in Brian. His attitude towards success and obtainable goals has been one of forward direction. He is once again becoming the young adult we once knew before addiction took this wonderful person to a different place. This is all largely due to the Turnbridge staff working together to direct Brian during good and not so good moments.
Overall, Turnbridge is teaching Brian what it takes to battle his addiction and remain sober. Hopefully, Brian can continue on this positive path to sobriety.”
Rec & Lifestyle
A few weeks ago, a team of Turnbridge staff members and clients got together to participate in the local annual Breast Cancer Awareness Softball Tournament. Breast cancer has directly affected the lives of several participants on the Turnbridge softball team.
“It was a great day, with great people, and for a great cause. It feels good to be able to show support for people in ways that we know how,” said Phase III resident, Cole D.
Multiple teams from throughout the state came to compete at this event and support break cancer awareness. With Turnbridge sponsoring the event, and donating to the fundraiser, the Turnbridge team was able to have the names of their lost loved ones on their jerseys. “Having those names on our jerseys was very emotional for some of us,” said Cameron Bakhtiar, Turnbridge Support Staff Manager. “It’s like they were there with us fighting again.”
“It meant a lot to me to play a sport that I love and to bring awareness to something that has affected multiple people in my life,” Support Staff Connor V,. said.
“Getting together with a bunch of buddies to play for a cause is extremely rewarding,” said Phase II Case Manager, Rafael Mercado. “Not only does it bring awareness to that cause, it allows us to practice giving back to our community.”
Alison Lord, Clinical Services Coordinator for the Turnbridge Women’s Program, is being recognized as October 2016 Unsung Hero of the Month.
In addition to her position at Turnbridge, Alison is enrolled in the DARC program (Drug & Alcohol Recovery Counselor) at a local college, working toward her ultimate goal of becoming a clinician.
“It really warms my heart to be recognized as the Unsung Hero of the month,” said Alison. “Every day I come to work, I feel gratitude and an understanding of what these young women are going through. I can relate to their struggles and fears. I like to look at myself as ‘living proof’ that recovery is attainable, along with happiness.”
Alison’s optimism and empathic nature have a profoundly positive influence on the young women of Turnbridge. “I take pride in my job here at Turnbridge,” said Alison. “I feel a deep connection with both our clients and my coworkers who I’m lucky enough to work with on a regular basis. I look forward to the future of Turnbridge and the Women’s Program.”
After years of tumult and struggle with substance abuse, and living in multiple different states, Will has finally found stability in New Haven. But, he did not do it alone.
According to Will, alcoholism runs in his family. Will and his two brothers are triplets and, growing up, they got along very well. One fateful day, the three of them decided they wanted to smoke weed for the first time together. “We bought a lot of it at once before we had even smoked because we knew we would like it,” said Will. “My mind and body always needed something to calm it, or at least it felt that way.”
It was not until Will got older and moved to Colorado that he was introduced to prescription pain killers. “I started to con doctors and go doctor shopping,” said Will. Will was under the impression that he could manage his use, but this belief would eventually crumble. According to Will, “it was manageable for a while, but then it spiraled out of control fast”. His use escalated quickly, and Will was eventually introduced to heroin. “I never thought [using heroin] would happen, but I told myself I wouldn’t ever become an IV user,” said Will. He was wrong. It wasn’t long before Will found himself using the drug intravenously. “It was a whole new drug,” said Will.
Will’s health began to deteriorate quickly. “I lost multiple teeth, lost feeling in my hands, and my ankles became to get very swollen because I would fall asleep at my desk every night,” said Will.
Eventually, Will reached out for help, and his family presented him with the opportunity to attend Turnbridge. Will knew of the Turnbridge program because his brother had attended in the past. “I am only here because of God’s blessing,” Will said. “I struggled at first, but having my brother there pushing me, and knowing that he did it, motivated me and gave me the belief in myself that I needed.”
“I wanted to get clean. I was making no progress out there,” said Will. “Turnbridge was very accommodating to someone who wanted to turn their life around. Turnbridge was so helpful that I feel like I have to pay it back in some way.” During his stay in Phase III, Will’s mother heartbreakingly passed away. “I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without all of the guys in my life,” said Will. “They stood by my side, picked me up when I was down, and made me stronger.”
“I could not have made it to where I am today without my case manager and my brother,” said Will. “This place has done a lot for me and I am grateful.” After a few months in the Phase III program, Will was offered a position as House Manager, which he gratefully accepted and has excelled in. In a few months, he will be graduating the program and is looking forward to sticking around the area and continuing to build his relationships with friends and family.
Use of Creative Arts Therapies in the Treatment of Trauma and Substance Use Disorders
There is a famous Oscar Wilde quote that says, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” This is a concept I have referred back to continuously throughout my experience as a professional counselor and drama therapist, specializing in the treatment of trauma.
There are certain things that people in early recovery only feel safe to reveal about themselves - aspects essential to their healing - at an aesthetic distance. Therefore, I often intentionally and methodically incorporate various forms of creative expression, artistic elements, theatre games, and bring a playful persona into the process of therapy.
We know that there is a high correlation between substance use disorders and traumatic life events. We also know that trauma almost always happens within relationships. Whether it happens within families or intimate partnerships, as a result of a complete stranger, or something we declare as “an Act of God,” it is human nature to experience trauma as relational. As a result, the victim of trauma adopts certain rigid beliefs such as, “I cannot trust anyone” or “Everyone is unsafe.”
The problem that arises post-trauma is that these schemas often get triggered within negotiating healthy relationships crucial to the recovery process.
Paradoxically to trauma being relational, it is only through relationship to others that reparative experiences can occur and true healing can take place. When a group is engaging in playful activity together, they are not only practicing mindfulness of the here-and-now by living in the present moment, they are reconditioning themselves to allow fluidity to some of their deeply held, often inaccurate beliefs. It is through this process, people in recovery begin to differentiate between past and present, adopting new definitions of safety and trust.
Creative arts therapies also help people in recovery to expand their roles beyond that of “addict” or “patient”. While expressing oneself under the gaze of a guiding therapist and supportive peers, one is not only able to safely explore the old behaviors that are not useful, but also practice taking on new roles within sobriety.
Receiving the emotional mirroring and constructive feedback of others helps a person to move through important developmental phases as the sober self. Through creativity and play one can work through the questions of “Who am I?” or “Is it okay to be me?” towards a sense of self-actualization and wisdom.
Rob was adopted at a very young age and, according to Rob, he “could not have found better parents.
Growing up, Rob faced minimal challenges, until he reached 8th grade, and was introduced to marijuana. “I smoked for the first time and I loved it,” said Rob. “I knew it was something I would continue to do.”
Rob described how he idolized the older kids in his high school who were selling drugs and it was something he wanted to do. During his high school years, Rob began throwing parties at his parents’ home, resulting in a growing lack of trust between him and his parents.
In early adulthood Rob faced many struggles. His sister was diagnosed with cancer, he received some bad news after years of searching for his biological parents, and a long-term relationship that he was in ended abruptly. Right around this time, Rob was introduced to heroin. “I remember them telling me it would make me feel better,” Rob said. “I felt like life was against me. Everything was horrible and I didn’t want to feel anything and deal with my emotions.”
Rob’s relationship with his parents was falling apart due to his lying, stealing, and trying to maintain his high. “I burnt every relationship and every bridge in my life while using,” said Rob. Rob’s anxiety and depression was so bad, he says, “I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t even talk to my parents without shaking. I didn’t want to feel my emotions.”
Rob became entirely dependent on the drugs and alcohol. “I would get my drugs and would never leave my room,” said Rob. After a then-girlfriend found syringes in his room, and a serious car accident in which Rob believes he “should’ve died,” Rob made the decision to get some professional help for his addiction. While in treatment, Rob found that “making friends and building relationships with people, without any ulterior motives, was amazing and [he] experienced that for the first time.”
Nearing the end of his short-term treatment, Rob was presented with the opportunity to go to Turnbridge. “I knew I needed to be there, but I was having such a hard time accepting the fact I was a drug addict and the length of the program,” said Rob. “Deep down I really knew I needed to be there.” With a little push from his parents, Rob would end up going.
“The best thing about Turnbridge was the length of it,” said Rob. “As I got further in and more time under my belt, I had more to lose. Prior to coming to Turnbridge, I honestly believed that I had nothing to lose and wasn’t afraid to lose. I am now able to go to sleep at night and want to wake up in the morning.”
“It’s still not perfect, but my relationship with my parents and everyone else is significantly better,” said Rob. “I did a lot of damage and it is going to take a lot of work to repair it all.” “Being a normal member of society is one of the biggest things I got back,” said Rob. “I can function in society again. It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t easy, and it took a lot work.” Today, Rob is continuing to better his relationships with friends and family and continues to move forward in his recovery. He successfully completed the Turnbridge program and has a job that he is doing well in. “I feel like I got myself back,” said Rob. “I really lost myself with all of the drugs I was doing and I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t think about who I was or what I was like normal.”
12 MONTHS Caden F.
11 MONTHS James J.
9 Months Austin O.
2 MONTHS Christophe P.
1 MONTH Jacqueline E.
0 MONTHS Peter G.