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JUNE 2014
Family Mailbag


"Several months ago I brought a very broken lad to Connecticut and yesterday I saw a glimpse into the old Drew. He was talking, laughing, and engaged. I cannot thank you enough and I reiterate we are committed on our end to the program."

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In This Issue
Recreation & Lifestyle
On Friday, May 23,several of Turning Point's Phase I residents donned their face masks for an afternoon of paintball at Hogan's Alley in Meriden. Paintball has turned out to be one of the residents' favorite recreational activities, and this outing was one of the best. According to resident Nick C., the residents divided into two teams to battle it out in several games of SpeedBall and WoodsBall. "It was fun," Nick said. "I had a good time, and we should do it more often." 

Recreational activities like paintball help the guys to communicate and trust one another, and this aspect of the events plays a huge role in the recovery process. "Long story short, it was good for the guys," Support Staff member James W. said. "I think it builds relationships within the community. It was just a good day. It was exciting, and it put some smiles on their faces. They look forward to it every time; it's one of their favorite events. It's a great positive at the end of the day that they can go out and have fun."

According to James, one of the best parts of the day was the ride home. "The thing that sticks out the most is the ride home," James said. "Everyone was pumped from it. They just all had a great time and were talking about what happened during the game."

In June, residents from throughout the Turning Point program will see a brand new production of Cirque du Soleil called "Varekai," and later in the month Phase I and Phase II residents will embark on a deep-sea fishing expedition.

Grant L.
Adam S.
Phil S.
Warren P.
Jon D.
Alex K.

27 Months
Joseph M.

Grant L.  

Alex K.

Chris C.
Camilo P.

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

Zach K.
Scott F.
Brandon T.
Ryan E.

Shane F.
Tyler E.
Mark S.
Alex C.
Joe P.
Brian B.
Patrick N.

Chris H.
Connor L.
Ryan D.
Demetri A.

Jesse S.
Cameron B.
Sean M.

Sam R.
Nick J.
Peter Z.
Bill D.
Dimitri H.


Andrew A.
Baxter D.
Max V.
Kyle G.
Craig B.
Isaac F.
Ryan R.
Domenic M.
Andrew G.

John K.
Matthew L.
Coleman F.
Clayton S.

Paul A.
Harrison G.
Amory B.
James B.
Jordan B.
Oren O.
Matthew M.
Allan P.
Thomas R.
Kyle D.
James D.
Will C.
Clinics Corner Header

The Role of Self-Forgiveness 
in Recovery
As a therapist at Turning Point, I have many times had the privilege of witnessing courageous processes of personal transformation. When a client first enters into the process of change here, he is often times struggling with a strong undertow of shame resulting from harms done though his active addiction. These feelings can feel like an insurmountable burden. Unresolved shame can erode, inform and damage fundamental, core beliefs about one self: "I am undeserving;" "I am inadequate" "I am worthless." Shame often involves negative feelings about the self as a whole and is associated with defensive strategies like denial, avoidance, isolation and relapse. However painful the above statements are, such honest confessions about self-concept are often the platform upon which authentic healing can occur.

I often talk in session about the idea of selfforgiveness as a pathway towards releasing the burden of debilitating shame. This does not simply mean "Letting Oneself off the Hook." It means deliberately and intentionally creating a life "plan" that challenges those self-destructive core beliefs. In session, I would typically ask-- in response to expressed feelings of guilt/shame-- "What can you do in your current life to act AS IF you felt adequate, deserving and worthy?" The answers I often get are creative and heartfelt: "I can help a newcomer." "When I go home, I can do FOR my family rather than expect them to do for me." "I can volunteer at a soup kitchen." "I can speak up for myself." "I can go back to school." A fresh map begins to take form and it is now etched with opportunities to challenge selfdefeating, constricting statements that leave clients feeling stuck in the pain of the past. Often times, we hold the belief that a feeling needs to precipitate action-- but sometimes it is in taking the new action that the feelings about one self ultimately must change.

The path of self-forgiveness can be a path of action as well as one of self- empathy. Learning to apply a less critical voice towards one's own transgressions-- while still maintaining an appropriate level of accountability-- helps clients apply similar compassion toward others and breaks the cycle of selfishness, a defining element of active addiction. I tell clients "Pay attention to any guilt you feel today. It is trying to tell you something about the nature of doing right and wrong in your life in this moment. What steps can you take to heed its message?"

It has been said that there is no such thing as a "bad" feeling. Feelings of shame and guilt (especially in early recovery) can be particularly painful. However, when actively attended and carefully listened to, I believe they can be valuable messengers and purposeful facilitators of lasting change.

Primary Therapist

A Licensed Family Therapist with over 12 years of experience in the mental health field, Meaghan specializes in the treatment of dualdiagnosed, substance-abusing young adults with a particular focus on helping families and clients recover in tandem.

As a systems specialist, Meaghan has brought her expertise in integrative mental health approaches to a diversity of community and clinical settings. She has been recognized nationally for developing and implementing comprehensive, state-of-the-art clinical orientations as Director of Liberation Program's Youth Satellite. Meaghan received her Master's Degree from the Family Institute at Chicago's Northwestern University.

As a therapist with Turning Point, Meaghan utilizes best-practice interventions including cognitive-behavioral, mind-body and solution-focused modalities to encourage wellness. Uniting families and communities in order to prevent high-risk behaviors and to derail cycles of addiction, throughout her career Meaghan has endeavored to empower clients and their families to challenge the dynamics that maintain and perpetuate chemical dependency.

Cameron B. is a resident currently in Phase III of Turning Point's extended care program.

Like many of those who suffer from addiction, Cameron has struggled through several attempts at rehab in the past, only to fall back into old habits. Since coming to Turning Point, however, he has discovered a desire to live a sober life, and he is working hard to maintain it and help others along the way.

Cameron began using drugs in his freshman year of high school, starting with alcohol and marijuana. As time progressed, he experimented with various substances along the way. By his senior year, he was a "full-blown opiate addict," and he began to shirk his responsibilities as a student and as a son.

Cameron managed to graduate high school, but was placed on academic suspension during his first semester of college. His parents convinced him to seek help for his addiction, beginning a process of treatment  that included six primary treatment programs before Turning Point. "After the fourth treatment I started smoking crack," Cameron said. "I was doing what I had to do to get my next fix. Every second I was thinking of a way to steal or lie, anything I could do to go get the drugs. I did a lot of stealing, lying, and robbing people. I was doing everything I could to go get my drugs."

When Cameron's mom told him about Turning Point, he was initially skeptical but decided to try the program. Within his first thirty days, he discovered that he would be a resident for an entire year, and was not happy. "I wasn't ready to fully commit to getting sober," Cameron said. "That's where my mindset was. About five or six weeks into Phase I, I met a couple of guys that helped me to move forward, and to stop isolating."

The community that Turning Point has created for its residents helps to foster a supportive group of young men, and this camaraderie and mutual understanding is what helps many residents like Cameron work the program and stay sober. "The case managers pushed me, and I had a lot of support from the guys at Turning Point," Cameron said. These new friendships helped usher Cameron along his road to recovery, urging him to attend meetings, get a sponsor, and work his program. By the time he entered Phase II, he knew that being sober was the right move for him.

"The support from all of the guys is still to this day really key to me moving forward in my sobriety," Cameron said. "The things that help me the most are my relationships with the guys and the activities that we do." Cameron has found that being sober isn't bad, and you can live and have fun without drugs. He plans on getting a job at Turning Point as a way of giving back to those coming in, and to Phase I residents, he offers the following advice: "come in with an open mind, and good things will come."

"Turning Point changed my life," Cameron said. "I am completely hopeful, and life is great today. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. Before I had no motivation and no determination; now I'm full of both. My parents taught me never to give up, to keep moving forward, and I'm really implementing that in my life. My relationship with my family has done a complete 180. When I talk to them they can hear the happiness in my voice, and they don't have to worry about me 24/7. Throughout this whole program I feel as if I'm becoming a man. I'm being more responsible, and I'm growing up day by day. Life is looking good. I've started moving forward. What I went through kind of made me a stronger, and a better person."

Chris Meyer

Chris Meyer
is Turning Point's Unsung Hero for June. Since September, Chris has worked as a member of the Support Staff for Phase I, and he has found meaning in his newfound career. According to Chris, his main concern as Support Staff is maintaining the safety of Turning Point's residents. He works with the residents on a daily basis, providing support and transportation, and observing medication adherence.

As a result of his close relationship with the residents, Chris is able to witness their recovery progress from virtually day one. According to Chris, the most rewarding aspect of his job as Support Staff is "seeing the guys celebrate a year of sobriety." "Basically I'm like a peer to them, like a recovery coach," Chris said. "I feel like I influence them in some positive way, and somehow help them in their recovery. Plus, working in Phase I I get to see them most resistant to the program and I get to see that change over the course of them being there a year."

Chris left a lucrative position in sales to work as a member of Turning Point's recovery community, and he hasn't looked back. "The purpose of life is a life of purpose," Chris said. "I found that at Turning Point. It's a lot more rewarding than selling t-shirts. I made a lot of sacrifices to work for Turning Point, but they were worth it. Turning Point is the best job that I've ever had. I would never have gotten the Unsung Hero if it wasn't for Casey Olayos and Dave Freedman."
James T. is a recent graduate of Turning Point's program. During his time at college James became addicted to prescription medication and obsessed with video games, and after a long struggle he followed the advice of his therapist and sought help for his addictions.

James' struggles with prescription medication began at a young age when he was given Ritalin and Adderall to treat his ADHD. Over time he became addicted and his parents withdrew the medication during his fifth grade year. In his sophomore year of high school, James started chewing tobacco, renewing his struggle with substance abuse. The tobacco gave James the belief that drugs were fun, and by his junior year he was drinking alone and smoking marijuana.

In college, James began drinking and smoking a lot more, and the pills soon came into the fore. "I had been experimenting with various things, but it was mostly just ADHD medication and anxiety meds to counter the effects of the ADHD meds, with video games on top of all of that," James said. "I had a really good therapist that convinced me that I had a problem."

"I was very much obsessed with the next time I could get on my computer or xbox, and the drugs made it worse," James said. "I was obsessed with getting the [drugs] and taking it the way I wanted to. I was very isolated from the start of my using. I preferred to be alone, and I didn't really like to talk to people. I was selfish, angry, you name it. I had a spiritual sickness through and through."

At the urging of his therapist, James admitted that he needed help and he was soon willing to enter a treatment program. James successfully completed primary treatment and Turning Point's program. He began working full-time after graduating, and will go back to college in the fall in pursuit of his undergraduate degree, perhaps in political science or business. James finds that his goals and ambitions fluctuate over time, but over all he has maintained a strong work ethic and a desire to remain sober.

"I'm basically taking it one day at a time," James said. "One thing I've learned is that I'm a really bad judge of my own character. It takes someone telling me that I've changed for me to realize it. I feel like I'm in general a much more pleasant person to be around. I still have more to work on, but I've made a lot of progress. My family actually trusts me now; they didn't for a long time. Things with my parents are great. I still depend on them, but at the same time I'm more independent that I've ever been.

"If I hadn't gone to Turning Point, I probably wouldn't be sober now," James said. "If I hadn't gotten honest about all of my addictions, including video games and drugs, and if I hadn't followed the directions of Turning Point and used that to my advantage, I probably wouldn't be sober now. I would be a much worse person. Turning Point made getting sober a lot easier, and I'm really grateful that I went there."
From the Family Header

Denise D. is the mother of Craig, a successful graduate of the Turning Point program.
During Craig's senior year of college he came to his family and asked for help with his drug addiction, and with their support and the help of Turning Point's extended care program, Craig has worked hard and regained control of his life.

Craig's battle with addiction surfaced during his final year of college. "He was having some trouble in school, and was going through some emotional struggles," Denise said. "I was concentrating more on trying to get him through school, and helping him get some counseling. I suspected that things were not going well, but I had no idea at that point that he had reached the level of using that he did."

Craig came home from college for the summer just three courses shy of completing his degree requirements. On the Tuesday after Memorial Day, 2012, he broke the news of his addiction to his family, telling them that he had a problem and asking for help. Denise and her family were shocked, but reacted quickly. "The bottom of my floor fell out," Denise said. "We were very surprised; it was a shock to the whole family. I knew that we needed to act immediately. He came to us and was willing to do something. I just wanted to move on it quickly."

Within 48 hours of telling his family, Craig entered a detox, and was soon enrolled into a 28-day primary treatment program. He successfully completed primary treatment, and the staff members there recommended to Craig and his family that he then enter an extended care program to help with his reintegration and continued sobriety. Turning Point was one of their recommendations, and they made the decision as a family. Throughout the program, Craig worked hard, and since his graduation he continues to take the necessary steps to live a sober and productive life.

"It has been a journey," Denise said. "I didn't know how much growing I needed to do, as well as Craig. Turning Point gave us all the opportunity to do some reflecting on ourselves, and see what we needed to change and how we needed to respond. It gave Craig the chance to become independent. I'm amazed at how independent he has become. He is taking care of himself, being a good person, and trying to give back to the community. I think the most difficult part was for me to learn to let Craig handle his affairs, for me to step back and learn how to let go."

"I have become a sponge of knowledge on all kinds of groups and self-help book," Denise said. "Any time that you can get together with other people that are in the same situation that you are in, or know something about the situation, you always grow from that, you always learn and obtain some kind of new information. You walk away feeling like you're not alone, that it is possible to get through this and stay sane at the same time. I have met and become friends with many of these people, and it's always comforting to know that I can pick up the phone and call someone. It's important to have people that you can talk to."

"Turning Point was a growing experience for not only Craig, but for me too," Denise said. "I don't think that we would have gotten through this without Turning Point. It allowed me to step back, and it also allowed Craig to grow. One of the most important things was that it helps [residents] learn how to take care of themselves, how to move on, and how to become productive people again. It allowed me to take care of myself, and allowed me to become productive again."

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