“Thank you for all that you and many others did for our son. You helped him get the fresh start and knowledge of his own inner strength that he needed to move forward. [Our son] graduated from University of Alabama, has made great strides toward repairing relationships and landed a good job. He’s now renting a house with 3 other friends who also seem to be fine young men.
Thank you for all that your team did. Starting from Gordon who answered the phone before we made the decision to send our son to Turnbridge, to every counselor, therapist and tutor, we knew our son was in the best possible hands.
THANK YOU for helping our son regain his life. My prayer for him is that he will be able to carry out whatever purpose God has for him.”
- A grateful parent
From the Family
This past month, the Turnbridge Women’s Program took a day trip to Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park in Portland Connecticut. The park is situated in one of Portland's historic quarries and allows for a variety of activities, including zip lines, wakeboarding, cliff jumps, rope swings, flyboarding, and paddle boarding.
“Going to brownstone was an experience to remember,” said Lizzie, a Phase III client. “The rec activites at Turnbridge have helped me experience things that I never thought I would have enjoyed sober. They help me create friendships with the women I live with in a fun environment.”
These activities are a chance for residents and staff to create meaningful connections with each other. For many, the idea of building friendships with others that are real and genuine, rather than predicated on a mutual interest in drinking and partying, is a novel and welcome one.
“Going out on a Saturday afternoon to Brownstone was a lot of fun,” said Emma, another Phase III client. “The fact that we have these opportunities to have fun really shows how much energy Turnbridge puts into our recovery. We get the chance to build bonds with one another and feel comfortable. Seeing that there’s a lot more to life than masking it with unhealthy habits is something I’m so grateful to have been able to experience.”
Jaime Pietrosimone is September 2018’s Turnbridge Unsung Hero of the Month.
Jaime is a Case Manager in the Turnbridge Women’s Program and she, like many others who work at Turnbridge, is also an active member of the local recovery community. “After being in and out of treatment centers and institutions, I finally got sober at the age of 31,” said Jaime.
Jaime started at Turnbridge as a support staff member, but her work ethic and natural ability to connect with the clients was noticed quickly. It wasn’t long before she was escalated to the role of Case Manager. Jaime is a powerfully positive presence in the Women’s community, lifting up her clients and co-workers every day. “I get along well with all different types of people and I try hard not to push judgement,” said Jaime. “I feel like that works really well, and I’m able to relate well with the clients on many different levels.”
“What I find most rewarding as case manager is seeing someone come in so broken and so afraid and so desperate, and seeing them get better,” said Jaime. “I remember being in that position. I remember how hard it was to ask for help. When you offer these girls support and you don’t give up on them they realize they are worth something. The women they become are amazing.”
Gillian C. and George S. are the mother and stepfather of Julia T., a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Women’s program.
Gillian and George recounted Julia’s difficulties with substance use and mental health from an early age. “Julia, as a little kid, was always kind of anxious, but when her dad and I got divorced when she was around 11, she got really depressed,” said Gillian. “She started not wanting to go to school, being difficult, and was just not happy.” Noticing that something was not right, Gillian sought help for Julia. “I tried to take her to therapy, but it just became us trying to drag her there.”
When Julia got to high school she transferred to a small Catholic school, but Gillian found that the school was not well equipped to support a student like Julia. “She was always very smart, but when she got depressed she wouldn’t really apply herself,” said Gillian. “She started drinking. There was a major incident where the police called me because she had woken up on the train in the Bronx, which is so far away from where we live in Brooklyn. She was only 15 at the time.”
While this was going on, Gillian was not aware of the full extent of Julia’s substance use. “I didn’t realize this at the time, but [Julia] told me later that she would buy alcohol at a store on her way home from school and just drink in her room. When she started taking benzos, things started to go down really quickly. We tried an outpatient program, but when we were at the intake appointment Julia said that it wasn’t going to work and that she needed more.”
Julia attended multiple treatment centers, but was not able to sustain her sobriety. “She was always her own advocate for getting help,” said George. “But, she would end up going to these rehabs for 30 days and come home.” George went on to describe Julia’s pattern of returning home from treatment full of resolve, only to quickly fall back into old habits, forcing Gillian and George to make treatment decisions under duress.
“We were always making these decisions out of desperation because it always seemed like a matter of time until she was going to die,” Gillian explains, “It was very scary, and it was very clear that if she didn’t get help she was going to die.”
“Most of the time we were just responding and reacting to whatever was going on, doing what we could in the moment and kind of figuring it out as we went along,” said George. “Then we decided she needed something long term. When we read about Turnbridge and the phases, it was very different than anything we had seen or been through and it kind of made more sense.”
“Turnbridge has been fantastic,” said Gillian. “There is a support system for us as well. Having regular contact, first with Cori and now with Meghan, has been just so great. We know what’s going on.”
“It was just something that we had never experienced,” said George. “To know, we’re not alone, and the emphasis was on team work. We started seeing how this approach worked. We were being cared for.”
“We’re so grateful to Turnbridge,” said Gillian. “You can see the progress that Julia has made. She had to be the one to ultimately do the work, but the combination of everything has just been, you know, it’s a great combination. It just feels so amazing now. Everything she has accomplished and just where she is now, it’s so impressive to see. She has a job now and she’s excited about it. It’s just mind blowing.”
“It’s her authentically coming through,” said George. “It was always there, she was just struggling. She’s come such a long way. She’s doing it Julia’s way with her humor and her wit.”
“For me, what was different about Turnbridge was that even when Julia was miserable and unhappy, I still felt like people loved her, and that was huge for me to just be able to let go,” said Gillian. “That’s what I love about Turnbridge,” said George. “The whole system, it’s just so smart. Recovery has to be done in phases. There has to be room for them to mess up and still be safe.”
Jordan S. is a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.
By the time Jordan arrived at Turnbridge, he had developed a severe substance dependence, but it certainly didn’t start that way. Like most adolescents, Jordan’s first experiences with alcohol and drugs were in a social context. “Freshman year in High School wasn’t that bad,” described Jordan. “I was just partying on weekends. Eventually, I would start drinking occasionally before school. Sophomore year it became more frequent. I felt terrible after a few months of doing that, so I tried to chill out a little bit. I went back to just partying on weekends.” Jordan was able to get through the rest of high school without any major consequences, but the seed had been planted.
“Eventually I graduated and went to college at Auburn,” said Jordan. “I lasted one semester out there. I got into pills while I was there. My grades were alright, but I got arrested a couple time while I was there. I came home and had no responsibilities. I decided I was taking a gap year. I told myself, ‘I’ll go back to school at some point.’ That didn’t happen. I would just chill at home or see my friends and get [messed] up. I did that for a year and half.”
After several arrests, Jordan’s parents started to recognize the severity of Jordan’s problem. “My parents got really worried,” said Jordan. “I had a few interventions and I would just walk out of the house. At some point it got bad enough, and a judge told me I could either go to jail or some sort of rehab, so I took the rehab.”
When Jordan first arrived at Turnbridge he struggled to engage. “I didn’t do what they asked ever,” said Jordan. “I didn’t do chores. I didn’t like going to meetings. I wanted to get out as soon as possible but wasn’t doing anything to get out. I was hoping that my parents would just pull me out. Eventually they did pull me out when I got to Phase III. After being home for one night I was in the hospital from drinking.”
Jordan’s care team at Turnbridge recommended a wilderness program for him. “I was in Wilderness from July till September, in Montana,” said Jordan. “There is really nothing to do there but to talk about how you are doing, what you are struggling with. It was very strict and disciplined. I asked my parents to please send me back to Turnbridge. I wanted to see the people I knew, my friends. I wanted to show them that I had changed, that I had grown up a little.”
Jordan returned to Turnbridge with newfound gratitude and made an earnest effort to progress through the Phases. “Now, I have been working a lot, I am taking classes, my life is headed in the right direction. I listen more. I am more open to suggestions. I know that sometimes other people know what’s best for me even if it makes me feel uncomfortable. I am not as lazy. I have a better relationship with my parents. I have mellowed out a lot; I am not as angry.”
“Turnbridge has helped me a lot,” said Jordan. “There have been lots of ups and downs, but I am going in the right direction.”
17 MONTHS Jake E.
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