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APRIL 2014
Family Mailbag


" I will also say that we are extremely grateful for this wonderful program! It has truly given us such a sense of hope which we can't put any price on!"

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In This Issue
Recreation & Lifestyle
Recreation & Lifestyle Headline
This past month, Turning Point's Phase I residents headed to Prime Climb of Wallingford for the fun and challenging workout of indoor rock climbing. Chris M., a member of the Support Staff, volunteered for the day and helped to organize the event.

"It was fun," Chris said. "My take on it is, recovery should be fun, and that's one of the awesome things about Turning Point. [Residents] are enjoying their life while being sober. One thing I like to say to them: I gave up drugs and got everything else back. If I pick up drugs, I have to give everything else back."

The trip to Prime Climb was one of the first rec events for new resident Thomas R. "It was a lot of fun," Thomas said. "A few people went over to the more advanced area, but the rest were in the beginner zones. There were inclines, declines, and regular walls. We did fun things like race. I beat Matt L. in one race. I scratched up my knee, but it was all for the price of victory. I think the residents overall really enjoyed the experience. It was a good combination of sober hanging out and physical exercise. It was a fun day of sobriety."

Having fun and enjoying life in sobriety are major aspects of the Turning Point program, and recreational activities like rock climbing are good examples of clean, sober fun. Many of the residents are initially unaware that they can enjoy playing sports or spending time together without supplementing the experience with drugs or alcohol. These events reinforce the positives of sober living. They build camaraderie among the residents and help to forge bonds that will strengthen their support networks throughout the Turning Point program and beyond.

Recreation & Lifestyle Photo

Dave O.

25 Months
Joseph M.

Grant L. 

Warren P.

Vinny C.
Phil S. 


Alex K.
Gavin B.

Jon D.
Eli O.
Kevin S.
Ryan C.
Chris C.
Camilo P.

Josh F.
Olin K.
Dylan C.
Brian M.
Michael R.
Ethan E.

Zach K.
Scott F.
Brandon T.



Jesse S.
Demetri A.
Cameron B.
Mick M.
Chris P.
Ryan B.
Sam R.
Nick J.
Peter Z.
Bill D.
Dimitri H.

Andrew A.
Micah P.
Baxter D.
Parker S.
Max V.
Shane F.
Tyler E.
Mark S.
Alex C.
Joe P.
Rolf K.
Lucas S.
Brian B.

Chris H.
Alec P.
Connor L.
Ryan D.
Demetri A.
George D.
Mickey M.
Craig B.
Isaac F.
Jonathan V.
Ryan R.
Domenic M.
Kyle G.
Dan P.
April 2014 Calendar
Clinics Corner Header
Why do some people find themselves psychologically chained to a drug for a lifetime? Experts have learned the answer to this question. Through imaging and other technologies, researchers have been able to "see" the psychological addictive mechanism in the brain, and have identified differences in the structure and operation of some people's brains that predispose them and keep them locked into addiction. Knowing how the addictive mechanism works, some researchers go so far as to say it is virtually impossible for one to avoid addiction if one has this predisposition and is exposed to alcohol or drugs at some point in life.

It has been widely accepted that addiction can be inherited. In the 1980s researchers discovered the majority of alcoholics have a smaller than usual P3 brainwave. The P3 brainwave promotes a sense of well-being, implying that a diminished P3 means a reduced sense of well-being. By testing the young children of alcoholics, and finding most also had a diminished P3, researchers concluded the difference existed prior to the use of alcohol and was inherited.

In the 1990's researchers used brain scanning technology to determine that a disproportionate number of alcoholics and drug addicts have fewer Dopamine receptors. Known as the "pleasure chemical" Dopamine enters the brain's pleasure a pleasurable feeling. Fewer dopamine receptors mean less pleasure because less of the chemical reaches the pleasure center. The combined results of the diminished P3 and fewer Dopamine receptors results in a free-floating "angst" or psychic pain in these individuals, for which the brain desperately seeks a solution.

Complicating matters is another difference in the form of the brain's response to the ingestion of drugs and alcohol. Normally when one takes a drink, for example, the brain responds with a slight increase in certain "feel-good" brain chemicals, such as Dopamine and Serotonin, creating a relaxed state with slightly lowered inhibitions and increased pleasure. Images of the brains of addicts reveal a flood of chemicals, especially Dopamine, which results in a euphoric response that far more than compensates for the psychic pain, such that the brain "hardwires" the experience in its circuitry so that repeating the experience is the highest of priorities. The brain begins to see repeating the experience as a matter of survival which over time makes it more important than food, family, job, etc., and the person is psychologically addicted.

The compulsion to repeat the experience is known as a "craving." Nora Valkow, head of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, and preeminent brain imaging researcher, has used PET Scans, a form of brain imaging, center through these receptors creating to see cravings in the brain. A rapid change of color in the image indicates a person is "triggered" and craving drugs or alcohol. The most important finding is that cravings occur in the identical spot in the brain as the survival instinct - one of the strongest instincts humans experience. The survival instinct subsumes all reason as millions of years of evolution are geared toward self preservation. Indications are the brain prioritizes the desire to use drugs similarly, creating a compulsion to use drugs as strong as the compulsion to flee a burning building, for example. It is no wonder the drug craving overwhelms all reason to the contrary, and the person uses.

What does this all mean for the addict? It changes little actually. Addiction, while proven to be a powerful psychological mechanism, often innocently inherited, remains a behavioral issue because without the behavior of ingesting drugs or alcohol, there is no active addiction. Despite predisposition, disease concept, and the overwhelming nature of drug craving, the person him or herself can (and must) place the disease in complete remission by eliminating one specific behavior. The good news is that through a "rewiring" of the brain's circuitry via modified thought processes, education, a redefining of drug use as destructive as opposed to a tool of survival, and spiritual growth, all of which come from recovery efforts, the brain can be taught to quiet cravings while bolstering reason in sufficient quantity to overpower the instinct to use, thereby avoiding relapse. Millions of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts are testament to successful, longterm abstinence. Moreover, because the addictive mechanism is now completely known, experiments have begun on animals that have successfully "short-circuited" the addictive mechanism, eliminating any desire to use drugs. It is only a matter of time that effective psychopharmacological treatments may cure addiction once and for all.  
Luke Gilleran, LADC, NCC, CCDP
Luke Gilleran, LADC, NCC, CCDP

With over 20 years of experience in addiction therapy, Mr. Gilleran has overseen programs ranging from psychiatric hospitals to inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency treatment programs for both adults and adolescents. He is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC), a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and was one of first therapists in Connecticut to earn the states Co-Occurring Disorder Professional (COD) certification, which is granted to therapists uniquely qualified to treat clients with co-occurring disorders. Luke can be reached at 203.520.3465 
or email him at lukegilleran@yahoo.com 
Resident Profile Scott F.
Scott F. is a resident in Phase III of the Turning Point program.

For a long time, Scott's alcohol abuse wreaked havoc on his life, but after a family intervention helped him to "see the light," he has dedicated himself to sobriety and continues to work hard in the recovery process at Turning Point.

Scott began to experience the consequences of his addiction several years ago, and his condition progressively worsened over time. He began drinking and using out of perceived necessity, rather than for recreation. "I was sinking lower," Scott said. "I was on a treadmill going nowhere. As hard as I ran, and as hard as I fought, I wasn't getting anywhere, I was regressing."

The consequences of Scott's drinking effected many aspects of his life. He was kicked out of his parent's home, and fired from his job due to a number of issues. At that point, he was drinking every day and financial resources were becoming ever more scarce. According to Scott, he literally had no money left, and was then contacted by his uncle who had some "cash" for him. When Scott showed up to meet his uncle,  an intervention was waiting for him, involving several of his family members.

Resident Profile Quote

When faced with the intervention, Scott was initially shocked, "like a computer being frozen." His parents and brother had written letters describing their feelings, and these helped push Scott towards recovery. "It helped me to see the light, so to speak," Scott said. "It was a very difficult decision. I was 51 percent yes, and 49 percent no. It was that one percent that got me into this program. I was ready for it at that point."

Scott entered a detox a short time after the intervention, and primary treatment thereafter. During primary, his parents brought a pamphlet describing Turning Point's program, and he soon went on a tour of the facility. "I was pretty amazed," Scott said. "I was amazed at the type of environment that was here, and the camaraderie. I kept an open mind, and took suggestions, and decided that I would give it a shot. I was hesitant at first, but after meeting the people I've really grown to like this program."

Resident Profile Scott F.

Scott made the personal decision to embrace recovery, and over time has noticed several positive changes. "My mind is clear," Scott said. "I wake up every day, and I'm not hurting, and I can remember things. I am basically out of a place where I was really helpless, thinking about how the world would be better off without me there. Now, I know that I'm here for a purpose. I'm much more valuable alive than dead. I feel like there is a reason I'm here. God works in mysterious ways. [Addiction] is baffling and powerful. I feel like I've changed in many ways. I notice it sometimes, but other people notice it way more than I do." 
Resident Profile Scott F.The relationship that Scott has with his family is great now that he has dedicated himself to living a sober life. "It feels like it never even happened," Scott said. "I did a complete 180. My parents back me. Everyone is behind me now. A ll I have to do is stay sober. I don't want to ruin everything I worked for. Everyone's thrilled that I'm here. I'm not hurting anyone anymore, either physically or emotionally."

In the future, Scott plans to join the logistics industry or follow his childhood passion and become a locomotive operator. "I want to go places," Scott said. "I want to explore now. Before I was very center-oriented, now I feel like I have the
strength and confidence to get out there." 

According to Scott, the most important aspect of the Turning Point program is "the ability to reinvent oneself, the ability to hit the reset button and start fresh." "My support network is really good," Scott said. "I've met more people here, and formed real, honest relationships built on friendship and not on what people could get from me or what I could use from other people. They are all genuine relationships formed of mutual understanding, and there's no manipulation. The good part is, now I can remember it."

Jeff Perron
is Turning Point's Unsung Hero for the month of April. Jeff is the overnight support staff for Phase II of the program, and he has been in that position for the past six months. He works hard to ensure the safety and stability of the residence, and attributes success to great teamwork within the Turning Point community.

As overnight support staff, Jeff is primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of the residents. He makes certain that all are accounted for, distributes medications, and, in the morning, helps them all to start their day.

"It's a part of doing what I can," Jeff said. "I've been blessed. It keeps me in touch, and keeps me grounded. It's challenging to try to get through to some of the guys. They're young, and I was young once, too, so I understand. When you're at peace, exciting things, good things, happen. The challenge is on their side. I'm just there to do what I can."

Alumni Life Headline Aaron G.
Alumni-Life-Portrait Aaron G.
Aaron G. is a recent graduate of the Turning Point program. After seeking help from his parents for his struggle with addiction, Aaron found the Turning Point program and has worked hard to regain both his sobriety and his hope for a bright future.

Aaron began smoking marijuana recreationally at the age of 13. Over time, the cause and effects of smoking started to shift, and it began to take a negative toll on his life. "It was all fun and games, but it slowly became more of a habit and a necessity as opposed to a good time," Aaron said. "Smoking went from being fun to more of a medicated reason to smoke, to keep me happy and to keep life going. I think that started probably when I was around 21, maybe 20."

Aaron's battle culminated at the age of 22 when he was fired from his job after getting caught using marijuana. "That just sent me all the way down," Aaron said. "I had thoughts of suicide and asked for help." According to Aaron, his parents were relieved that he asked for help, and they sprang into action. Within two weeks, they located the Turning Point program and Aaron soon entered his residency.

"First coming in, I was very hesitant," Aaron said. "I wasn't looking forward to spending nine months to a year up here. [The transition] was difficult at first, being in a new area. I think right around the middle of Phase III I finally accepted it. I stopped going through the motions and really started to pay attention, and started to enjoy it. That was thanks to my case manager [Rob Deffendall], who really helped me see the better side of recovery as opposed to seeing it as a punishment and something that's not going to be fun.

Alumni Life Quote

Since coming to Turning Point, Aaron has noticed several positive changes about himself, particularly his maturity and his "drive for a successful life and hope for a future."

After graduating, Aaron moved into a local sober house. He works as a member of Turning Point's Phase II culinary staff and continues to work his recovery program. In June, he will move back home to Florida where he plans to study marine technology. To those entering the Turning Point program, he offers this advice: "Keep an open mind, and just listen to what everybody has to say. It really works. Just give it a chance."
From the Family Header
From The Family Headline Olin K., Sr.
Olin K., Sr. is the father of Olin, a recent resident of the Turning Point program. Olin Jr. spent about ten months in the program, and in that time he has made remarkable progress. He has committed himself to staying healthy and practicing the 12 steps.

From The Family Photo According to Olin Sr., his son was a happy kid who did well in school and was rarely in any kind of trouble. Olin Jr.'s attitude toward school and life began to change during his middle school years, and it worsened over time. Olin Jr. spent years battling substance use issues that ranged from marijuana to meth and bath salts. "I didn't realize how bad it was," Olin Sr. said. "He'd been doing drugs for years, and then he just started doing crazy stuff. On his 14th birthday he was so out of it, he didn't know what was happening." Many of the events surrounding the drug abuse were scary to the family, particularly a drastic weight loss that occurred from his use of bath salts. Things progressively got worse for Olin Jr., and he reverted to alcohol abuse in the hopes of allaying his drug addiction.

Olin Jr. eventually asked for help, and the family moved quickly to find a local 28-day program. "When he got out they suggested an intensive outpatient program," Olin Sr. said. "I didn't think he'd survive if he stayed here. Most of his friends are into drugs or alcohol." Olin Sr.'s daughter and son-in-law work in the recovery industry, and she found out about Turning Point. The integrative nature of the program seemed like a good fit for Olin Jr.'s case, and he soon began his residency.

"I'm grateful for Turning Point, and for what they've done," Olin Sr. said. "I don't think he'd be alive if he hadn't gone there. He's got great friends there, and he's come a long way. He puts the program first. He talks the talk, but he's walking the walk as well from everything I see. I know he calls his sponsor every day. He seems a lot calmer, and he's taking better care of himself. He enjoys the program, and he really tries to work the steps. He's grown up a lot. He's done well, and I think he's got a good foundation."

From The Family Quote

According to Olin Sr., Olin Jr. plans to graduate the program April 4 and travel back to Florida. He has already established a local sponsor, and he will continue working his steps and maintaining a stable recovery program. Olin Jr. is currently studying to attain his GED, and in the future he may enter the agriculture industry.

From the Front Line Photo Chas L From the Front Line Headline 
One common denominator with young men in recovery is that they have obviously started using drugs and alcohol at a young age. For most, this means that some of the most pivotal emotional and social development has been stunted.

My own personal experience left me getting clean in my early 20's, after using heavily through my teen years and in many ways with the mentality of a 12 or 13 year old. Drug and alcohol use was not only a destructive thing I was doing, but it was also a huge part of my persona. I had learned most of my coping and social skills while high, at least in some way. Making friends, strengthening the bonds of friendship, meeting girls, dealing with break-ups, dealing with other hardships, dealing with boredom... for that matter, dealing with life itself.

Much of what we do, here at Turning Point, is to try to minimize these faulty (immature) instincts. By the time residents get to Phase 3, they have already gotten an excellent education in healthy living. They have identified and begun to implement a design that encompasses mind, body, and spiritual growth. Our biggest challenge is to keep them focused on this way of life. Getting clean is easy; learning to stay clean is the hard part. Being bored, feeling left out, dealing with disappointment...dealing with success; these are the times when our destructive instincts can over-rule any knowledge of self we may have gained. Developing new habits is the key, and there really is no short-cut to doing that, it simply takes time and repetition.

Chas Lankford
Phase III Case Manager
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