I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much Dave and I appreciate everything you do. Your words of wisdom last Sunday were especially helpful.
a grateful mother
From the Family
Erin C. is an alumnus and current staff member at the Women’s Program.
Before coming to Turnbridge, Erin had her fair share of treatment centers and attempts at sobriety. “I went to treatment for the first time when I was 15. Most of my teenage years up until I came to Turnbridge, I was in and out of treatment centers. I would get lengths of sobriety and then I would relapse again. I didn’t feel ready when I was that young and I never really went to a place that did it for me. Every time I relapsed, things got worse.”
After high school, Erin went to college and the consequences of her drug use escalated. “I got into my dream school, Berklee College of Music. I had to drop out because I overdosed in my dorm room. The school gave me a year to get sober, which I did. I came back with a year sober and tried Berklee again, but I relapsed about a month in. For that whole year, I was pretending to go to school and instead was using in my apartment all day. My friends and family still thought I was sober, but I wasn’t. I was living this lie. In June of that year I came to Turnbridge.”
Eventually, Erin’s use greatly affected her relationship with her family. “They have always been great, like, when I actually wanted help they were always there for me. Toward the end of my using, they really put up a boundary and stopped answering my calls. They weren’t giving me money anymore and they didn’t want anything to do with me once they found out I was lying and using again. I finally contacted them to get help and they told me Turnbridge was my last shot. They supported me coming here but they wouldn’t support anything else. They supported me being in treatment financially, but they wanted me to do the work. They wanted me to prove to them I was serious, so I did. I worked really hard. I struggle with trauma, depression and anxiety, so my path to recovery was a littler bumpier than most. I had a lot of ups and downs. I also struggle with an eating disorder, which Turnbridge really helped me with.”
Although Erin was able to stay sober, she struggled with her co-occurring disorders. “I had almost two years sober. I graduated Turnbridge and went to Thrive, but my mental health stuff was still really prevalent and so was my eating disorder. I ended up leaving Thrive to go to treatment for my eating disorder for 35 days. After that, Turnbridge welcomed me back with open arms and offered so much support. Everyone was just so loving and helped me with what I needed.”
Roughly seven months later, Erin began working at Turnbridge as Support Staff and has since been promoted to Resident Liaison at Phase 1 and 2. “[Working at Turnbridge] has been huge for me. I think a part of the reason I’m still sober today and doing well is my Turnbridge family, and the fact that I’m allowed to work here and give back. I like to be there for other people like people were there for me. It’s really kept me on the right path and it’s given me motivation to do better and better myself every day. It’s helped me to do better for the clients and be a better partner, daughter and sister.”
Today, Erin has gained back a close relationship with her family. “My parents are like my best friends. I call them pretty much every day and we talk about everything. They’re so proud of me and who I am today and I think they know I work really hard. They’re really grateful for that. I had three years sober a few weeks ago and they’re so grateful for Turnbridge and everyone who has stood by me.”
Unlike her past experiences with treatment, Erin found herself in a much different place at Turnbridge. “At Turnbridge, for the first time, I talked about some of my past issues that I’d never mentioned before to anyone. I went into trauma therapy and I was really real about stuff that happened to me when I was using. With my mental health, I had never been on the right meds because I had never been honest with a psychiatrist before.
At Turnbridge, I really took advantage of therapy and my relationship with my case manager. I took suggestions a lot of the time and I stopped listening to the voice in my head telling me to do certain things. It took me a while to realize I could be okay with being okay. I realized I was deserving of that because for a really long time, I would be doing well and self-sabotage. In Phase 3 I got to a point where I realized there doesn’t always need to be chaos in my life for it to mean something. I came to the point where I wanted to make decisions to contribute to the life I wanted to live instead of those that would bring me further from it.”
Much like the rest of her life today, Erin’s future now looks different too. “I’ve always been into music and for a long time I thought it was the only thing I was good at and the only thing I wanted to do with my life. My dreams were just to be a drug-addicted musician who just partied, did drugs and performed. Now, music is still a huge part of my life and I still want it to be a part of my future, but in a healthier way, like using it as a coping mechanism and something to be passionate about. I definitely want to work my way up in Turnbridge. I really love working there and I’ve found more passions being sober that aren’t just music; helping people, being there for others and being of service. It goes a long way for me.” “I’ve gotten kicked out of a lot of programs for acting the way I acted at Turnbridge, but Turnbridge didn’t give up on me. It was the one place that stood by my side. Because they believed I could do this and get better, I believed I could do this and get better. I held onto other people’s faith in me when I didn’t have any. Turnbridge saved my life.”
John S. is the Unsung Hero for the month of September.
John drives the bus that transports clients to clinical groups and recreation events and is a valued member of the team. “I was a school bus driver and I needed something in the summer, so I applied here. It was only supposed to be a summer job, but I liked it so much that I stayed”.
Turnbridge has been a wildly different setting than John is used to. “Everyone is so positive here. It’s a lot different than anything I’ve experienced anywhere in my career. It’s just helping people. Everyone goes out of their way to help these clients and to help each other.”
Ever humble, John was admittedly surprised to receive recognition and used the opportunity to express gratitude for his teammates. “To be honest, I’m a little shocked because I’m just doing what was asked of me. I appreciate it very much. I have some unsung heroes of my own. John Palmer is a very wise man and I listen to him a lot. Sam Cohen is very passionate about his job. Grant [Young] and Raf [Mercado] are the best bosses I could possibly ask for. Then Ive got my go-to guys, Graham Forester and Chris Pokora. They really took me in as one of their own. They really help me out.”
A mother of a Phase 3 resident at the Mens Program, who does not wish to be named, described her familys journey through recovery.
“[My son] was out of college and was starting to look for a job. He had done some drugs while in school, but he got more heavily involved. I didn’t know how to handle it. We tried everything, from taking him to our family doctor to consulting a psychiatrist. It wasn’t easy. People tell you if they won’t seek help themselves, there’s not a lot you can do. We did not know where to turn. I have a background in psychiatric nursing and I had a lot of experience with patients who were drug users, but I had no idea how to get help for my son.”
Prior to his substance abuse, this mom describes her child as “...a sweet kid. We always had a very close, good relationship. He was always a kid who stuck with things, despite adversity. He was always responsible in that way.” Because of this positive reputation, she was shocked when he began to struggle with drug use. “When I eventually got ahold of his tox screen, I freaked out. A fatal overdose would have been imminent, he had something like ten drugs in his system. You feel so bad, you just can’t even believe it. In the scheme of life, nothings more important to a parent than their child.”
This mother decided to hire interventionist who helped her son get into a thirty- day treatment program. “Prior to that, my husband and I were getting very little sleep. We were worried sick, we were up all night. When [my son] got to treatment, he threatened to leave. He was so angry with us. I was happy he was safe, but I still felt panicky and sad. I think I was in a complete fog.”
It was at this thirty-day program that the idea of long term treatment was mentioned. “When they brought up the idea of a long-term facility, I said ‘yes’. I thought back to my nursing background and I knew that no one was cured overnight. That’s the way to go. I knew that 28 days and a sober house was completely unrealistic. He would have gone right back to using drugs.”
From there, this mother and her husband made the decision to send their son to Turnbridge. “We were thrilled. I had spoken to Gordon [Dickler] and we went over the plan. It made a lot of sense to me so I was very happy. When [my son] got there, he didn’t want to go but his wonderful Phase 1 Case Manager Drew Behr talked him into staying. Immediately I had a good feeling because I knew only a skilled person would be able to reach through to [my son] at that point.”
One of the initial stand-outs to this mother was the sense of community she found at Turnbridge. “I think that what makes this a superior place is, firstly, the staff. The all give 100% to the job. The residential staff is fantastic, the communication is excellent. Of course, there have been ups and downs. There have been many times we were upset or panicky and the staff was always there. I felt like we were in this together. They were also very flexible which is unique, I thought, and shows me a very sophisticated level of care. I can’t say enough about dealing with everyone there.”
This mother remembers a specific instance where she felt staff went above and beyond for her son. “There was a time when he went back to school, which he was very much looking forward to. Prior to his going, he was in Phase 2, but [during], he was put back to Phase 1. John Stewart drove him to the train station so he could still go. They really bent over backwards. There was also an incident while he was at school. I called Lauren Springer crying, and in two minutes, Pete McConnell was on his way there. The residential staff, especially, gives 110% all the time. I have nothing but good things to say about all of them. They are just the kindest people and really got to know [my son] as a person. That’s what makes it a winning place.”
Family programming also plays a large role in this mother’s personal journey. “I go to two Turnbridge meetings every other week; one with Diana [Clark] and one with Lauren [Springer]. We attended the Family Education Weekend and it was great. It’s all been really helpful. I think at the beginning, the first [Family Healing Workshop] I went to, I was so upset, I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I was in a complete fog. Now, we are active in groups and go to meetings every week. For my husband and I, it’s really helpful.”
Of her son, she said, “Now he’s finally in a better place, mentally, and we’re moving forward. I really feel it’s because of the personalized attention and care. For [my son], it’s because so much of the staff has been so patient and dedicated. Any good treatment at a medical center is constantly updating and re-evaluating the plan of care. That’s exactly what Turnbridge has always done; whatever they could do to work with him, they did it. There were times he wasn’t always so nice or pleasant to deal with, and staff always stayed professional and caring. For the parents, the communication is really good; the weekly calls and if we need to contact them for any reason, they are more than responsive. I remember when we first got there, we were in a panic because it was the first time taking [our son] out to lunch. His case manager said, ‘Text me after and let me know how it went’. I thought, that’s what tells you about the caliber of the people you’re working with. It just feels so nice and warm. They are on their game.”
Overall, this mother emphasized the attentiveness and feeling of safety she’s gotten. “Certainly, there can be nothing more flattering and comforting to a family member to know that your child is being so well taken care of.”
Ted B. is a current client at Phase 3 of the Mens Program.
“My life before Turnbridge was absolutely horrible. I had just lost my dad three years prior. After my dad died, I started drinking every day, all day. My life was depressing. I pushed everyone away all my friends and I was basically alone in my room not doing anything except drinking 24/7. Since I pushed everyone away, I didn’t have anyone except my mom. My life was extremely sad, and depressing, and lonely.”
Ted hadn’t always abused alcohol, but found himself turning to it for comfort. “Prior to my dad dying I would drink normally with my friends or out with my family. A few years before that, I was living in Italy and partying every night, but when I came back I just stopped. After my dad died, I picked up a bottle and was doing absolutely nothing with my life. I wasn’t going anywhere.”
Ted made a half-hearted effort at seeking help before committing to a treatment program. “My mom had been worried about me. I went to AA just to make [her] happy, but I would just drink right after. I would go right to the liquor store. I wasn’t really trying to get sober. Then, I got on some antidepressants and they started to work a little bit. That’s when I realized I had a huge problem and needed to get help. I was just feeling alone; my depression was bad and I was suicidal. The only time I left the house was to go and buy booze. After I got on the medication I came to the realization I needed help and asked to come [to Turnbridge].”
Despite his willingness, Ted was still anxious about beginning this journey. “I was really nervous when I first got here, but everyone was really welcoming. After my first night here, I felt welcome and a part of everything. Since it’d been so long since I had friends, I started to build friends. I was really socially awkward at first.”
Ted had some bumps along the way. “When I got here, I really wanted to be sober so I was putting a lot of effort into my sobriety. I relapsed twice, but for me, it was when my emotions started to come back. I drank to cover up a lot of stuff; most of it pertaining to my dad. Once those feelings started coming back, my anxiety and depression came back full swing. I had to get on medication and it took a little while to even out.”
It was building solid relationships that helped Ted get through hard times. “I have a really close group of friends. It really helped me getting to know their stories and relating to them. Working with a therapist and a family therapist helped me come to terms with a lot of stuff. It took me a while to open up in therapy or to my friends, but once I did, it made it a lot easier. I realized I’m not this black sheep.”
The biggest change Ted notes in himself is his sense of independence. “When I was drinking all the time, I had zero independence and had to rely on my mom. Our relationship was really codependent, especially after my dad died. After being here for a while, it went from her trying to micromanage everything and me trying to manipulate, to a healthy relationship. She’s been able to work on herself too while I haven’t been there. Also, by working and going to school, I’ve been able to gain a new level of independence I haven’t had before.”
Currently, Ted is a fulltime student at Southern Connecticut State University. “I’m studying social work and I want to eventually work in addiction studies. I have a lot of family friends in social work. I kind of looked at that and started working the steps in AA and thought ‘this is something I want to do’. I want to work in this field. I think I could give a lot back. I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Of his journey through recovery, Ted said, “It’s been really difficult, but I’m glad I made the choice to come to Turnbridge. I’d still be alone in my room if it weren’t for this program.”
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