“My husband and I can’t thank all of you enough for the wonderful help, care, support you provided our son during the past year. We are incredibly impressed with the program, and nothing we came across beforehand compares. Our son’s case managers were terrific, Jonathan Lowe was a miracle worker, Joe has been a dream to deal with on the final leg, and Lauren has been there for us every step of the way, with awesome guidance.
I know you hear this again and again, but you do such amazing work, and we couldn’t be more grateful. We don’t know, of course, what the future holds for our son but if he has a chance it will be because he spent a year in your care.”
A grateful parent
Rec & Lifestyle
This month, Phase I & Phase II residents of the Turnbridge Men’s Program headed out to Brownstone Park for a day packed full of water adventures.
Brownstone Park is one of the more popular and exciting water parks in the Northeast. “It’s good for guys to get out in the sun and do some cliff jumping and water skiing,” said Cameron Bakhtiar, Turnbridge Recreation Coordinator. “It gets the adrenaline going in a healthy way.”
Brownstone has always been a favorite event among our clients, and this time was no different. “It was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back again,” Alex W. of Phase I said. “It was some of the realest fun I have had in sobriety and it was a great time with everyone.”
Rumor has it that Cameron is trying to sneak in another trip to Brownstone before the weather gets cooler...Stay tuned.
Audrey Bell, LMSW
Audrey Bell, our Womens Program Director, has been named Turnbridge Unsung Hero of the Month for September.
Audrey uses her own personal recovery journey as an asset in helping the women who come to Turnbridge looking for a better way of life. When I was 24 years old I was given the gift of desperation, said Audrey. I clung onto the faith that my family and others had in me, and became committed to self-exploration, love and compassion. I began my beautiful journey of recovery.
“As a woman in recovery, I am aware there are fewer opportunities for long term holistic care offered to females,” said Audrey. “Utilizing my personal and professional experience to help create a program specific to women’s needs has been an incredible experience.”
“One of the things I love most about Turnbridge is our ability to wrap our arms around each client and create fluid communication amongst team members. This allows us to provide effective and efficient treatment for those individuals in our care.”
Tyler’s son, Ian, is a recent graduate of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.
Tyler’s son, Ian, is a recent graduate of the Turnbridge Men’s Program. Since his son’s arrival at Turnbridge in the summer of last year, Tyler has witnessed Ian’s profound growth and maturation into the responsible young adult he is today. Ian recently celebrated the important milestone of one year of continuous sobriety.
Originally from New Jersey, Ian saw his struggles begin when he entered high school. After attending a private school for his elementary and middle education, which had less than 10 total people graduate, Ian transitioned to a public high school that maintained a student population of about 2,000. “I don’t think Ian was ready for it,” Tyler, stated. “He was nervous but excited.”
Tyler described the difficulty of “not knowing what is going on in a teenagers life, addiction or not.” Tyler believes Ian’s first use was around 9th grade, where he experimenting with alcohol and pot. “I think Ian began to regularly use in 10th and 11th grade,” said Tyler.
“I don’t know when he was using or how much he was using, I wish I had known sooner. Alcoholics can be very sneaky,” Tyler said. Having seen alcoholism in his family before, the behaviors were not completely foreign to Tyler. Ian would get caught smoking, get grounded, wait out the time, and then go back to his usual activities. “I think all teenagers lie to some degree, and I certainly know that all addicts lie.”
During his senior year, Ian was caught intoxicated at a school-sponsored sporting event. His consequences were either a suspension or participation in an intensive outpatient program. Ian decided to attend the IOP program for 12 weeks. The night following completion, Ian resumed drinking and smoking.
Following high school, Ian went off to a large University in the area where his downward spiral picked up steam. “There was a fair amount of substance abuse and Ian was not doing well,” said Tyler. Ian’s parents decided to withdraw him from the university and send him to a community college. “He was clearly not focused, and to send him back was not the best decision.”
Ian’s use escalated to prescription painkillers, and his parents would soon become aware of this. Ian began participating in another IOP program. “I don’t think he really wanted it,” Tyler said. Ian would complete the program, but his drug and alcohol use persisted. As Ian’s progression continued and his financial resources began to run dry he would eventually begin using heroin, a cheaper alternative to prescription painkillers.
“There was a lot of lying and stealing going on,” Tyler said. “In the summer of 2015, his mother and I intervened and gave him an option to go to treatment. We were very firm with this option, as it was the only one.” Ian accepted help, and enrolled in a primary treatment program. “They did a great job, but Ian was nowhere near ready to go back out into reality or come home to the same people, places or things,” said Tyler. “30 days is not enough. You need to have a long stretch of time where you focus on yourself and your own sobriety.”
The option of Turnbridge was put on the table, and again was the only option, and Ian accepted. “Ian struggled with [Turnbridge] and what they asked of him, but he had no other option,” Tyler stated. “We let him know it was Turnbridge, and getting better, or he was on his own and would have to go find a job, a home, a way of transportation, without our assistance.”
“Ian was 22 when he entered, but had the maturity of 16 or 17 year old,” Tyler said. “Turnbridge made him face these challenges and responsibilities. He had stopped maturing when his use began. You grow when you’re sober, facing challenges and facing yourself.”
Ian slowly began to progress. There were plenty of ups and downs, but Ian slowly began to embrace the help that was being offered to him. “Turnbridge gave him the structure, environment, accountability but pushed him to create a sober network and reach out and work on himself,” Tyler said. “Turnbridge gave him the tools to succeed, and Ian used them.”
Earlier this month, Ian successfully completed the program and moved into a local sober house. Last month, Ian celebrated 1 year sober. “He is happy, working hard and has made lifelong friends in New Haven,” Tyler said. “It is the hardest work he has ever done and ever will do, it is a lifelong process.”
Trauma Informed Care Giving
It is difficult to treat individuals in recovery without acknowledging the existence and impact of traumatic stress and events. There are very few suffering from addiction, both in our program and in the larger cohort, that do not have trauma in their past. As such, Turnbridge programs have worked diligently to be a source of Trauma Informed Care Giving.
To understand the impact of Trauma, one must be able to identify it as such. A widely accepted definition of Trauma has been put forth by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration); “...experiences that cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions...can refer to a single event, multiple events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
Trauma is one of the most uniquely individual aspects of a client’s mental health treatment. A shared moment by two individuals will be experienced and interpreted very differently. This difference is largely connected to the individual's current/existing coping skills and past experience with trauma. The previously referred to ‘moment’ can range from being yelled at by a teacher to being in or witnessing a terrorist attack.
When a trauma occurs, the moment becomes imprinted on the brain. Depending on the size of the trauma, emotional development and coping can be stunted at that moment. This is often the underlying reason for parents’ frustration that their son or daughter acts immaturely in crisis moments. It is also often the catalyst for maladaptive choices for coping, such as substance use. Substance abuse becomes a substitute for actually processing and handling the emotions that arise from traumatic events.
With all this being said, Trauma Informed Care at Turnbridge involves looking at behaviors as symptoms; as information. The adage of “what is the client trying to tell me by doing this?” Aside from substance use, behaviors seen as stemming from trauma include: excessive temper and outbursts, inability to connect to peers or adults (for example a sober network), hyper-vigilance (such as being easily startled or jumpy), wetting the bed, night terrors or avoidance of sleep entirely, and self-harming thoughts or actions.
The backbone of our Trauma Informed Care incorporates three Rs. We Realize the widespread impact of trauma, Recognize the signs and symptoms, and Respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into our policies and practice. Through this approach we enforce peer support, safety, and empowerment within our clientele.
Trauma can be a daunting hurdle in the path to recovery for many, but is one that must be conquered in order for sustained sobriety. It opens a door to self discovery, understanding and most important of all; healing.
Originally from the suburbs of Ohio, Connor eventually made his way to New Haven to find a new and better way of living.
The obstacles were not easy to overcome, but as a result of his dedication and the support of Turnbridge, Connor has made enormous progress.
Connor’s first episode of drinking and smoking pot came when he was 14 years old, and his use quickly began to escalate. As high school progressed, Connor’s use continued to pick up. “At a really young age, I was going to a lot of parties with older kids,” said Connor. Growing up with older siblings, Connor was always drawn to an older crowd of kids. “I always looked up to them and wanted to be a part of that crew,” Connor said.
Connor quit playing sports because “drinking and doing drugs became more important.” Connor had always previously been a good student, but his academic performance began to plummet. He was accepted into college, only just barely. Even after relocating to a brand new school with new people, Connor was immediately drawn to the other kids who were focused on drinking and using drugs. “I found a group of people who loved to do what I do, and that was getting high,” said Connor.
It was not long until Connor was forced to take a medical leave of absence from school, which was coincided with an episode of drug-induced psychosis. Connor was hospitalized as a result of this episode, but returned to using drugs as soon as he was released. “I felt worthless and hopeless and my only option was to get high,” Connor stated. A cycle of treatment centers and institutions began, and persisted for years.
“Eventually, it got to the point where I was either going to die or take action to get better,” said Connor. “I needed help. I was beaten and had nothing left in me.” He reached out to his family for help and they made quick arrangements and got Connor into a wilderness therapy program. Following the completion of this program, Connor knew he needed more help and agreed to come to Turnbridge.
Connor would thrive at Turnbridge, as he was taking action to get better and was actively seeking help and guidance. “I made amazing friends who helped me so much,” said Connor.
Connor had a brief lapse while at Turnbridge, but he was quick to reach out to staff for help. “It was all I knew to do when I was feeling depressed,” he said. With the help of the support system he had developed at Turnbridge, Connor bounced back. “Everyone continued to push me and motivate me and never gave up on me,” he said.
Connor made some big changes to the way he was living this time around. “I was active in the recovery community, with rec events, groups, and getting a job,” said Connor. As a resident of the Phase III program, Connor excelled so much that he was offered the responsibility of House Manager of his residence.
Connor’s passion for music and sports has always been there, and recovery gave him the opportunity to reclaim these things for himself. Connor managed the Turnbridge sober softball team and participates in a variety of other Turnbridge-sponsored sporting events. He also attended concerts with others in the program. “I am able to do everything I love and have fun, sober,” said Connor.
“I had plans to go out West and go to school, but the timing wasn’t right,” said Connor. He made the decision to stick around New Haven and continue his journey here. Connor was subsequently offered a job as Support Staff for Turnbridge, which he gratefully accepted. He recently moved into a local sober house to continue to work on his recovery. “I am extremely grateful to be where I am today, life is great,” said Connor. “I feel good about myself. I am happy and healthy today.”
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