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MAY 2014
Family Mailbag


"I wanted to reach out to express my gratitude to Turning Point for your hard work and support with Andrew, our incredible son! The program you have designed, the format, the support, the expertise and mainly the people are all what makes your company unique and successful."

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In This Issue
Recreation & Lifestyle
On the morning of Saturday, April 12, a group of resident from Phases II and III took part in one of Turning Point's most exciting recreational activities to date: Zipathlon. Instead of casual zip lining, residents were treated to "2 miles of 'military-style' obstacles, zip lining, rappelling, and more." EMPOWER Leadership Sports amped up their activity grounds, including a 55-foot rappel, low crawl, up-and-over wall, balance obstacles, cardio challenges, and a buddy carry to test the mettle of Turning Point's attending residents and staff.

The group was split into teams of eight, with each team struggling to complete the obstacle stages in the shortest amount of time. The racing aspect of the course was complicated by requiring team members to stick together, turning the activity into a heart-pumping team-building adventure.

"It basically turned out to be a mini Tough Mudder/ Spartan Race-type competition," Phase I resident John C. said. "For me the best part was passing the finish line. Our team really came back from being way down. We pulled back together for victory; it was a huge teambuilding effort. We go to the [rec events] and have a blast. We learn how to have fun again without drugs."

"It was much more like a Tough Mudder, motivational thing," Phase II resident Tom R. said. "They split us up into teams. Some of the staff joined and we were evenly matched. Even the guys that weren't really into it at first had fun. I'd never been zip lining before, it was fun. The highlight for me was the [buddy carries]. It was a bonding experience, and overall it was a really fun Saturday."

Eli O.
Vinny C.
Chris C.

26 Months
Joseph M.

Grant L. 

Warren P. 

Adam S.

Phil S. 

Alex K.
Gavin B.


Jon D.
Eli O.
Kevin S.
Ryan C.
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.
Lucas S.
Brian B.
Patrick N.

Chris H.
Connor L.
Ryan D.
Demetri A.
Ben J.
Jesse S.

Jesse S.
Cameron B.
Chris P.
Ryan B.
William D.
Sean M. 


Sam R.
Nick J.
Peter Z.
Dimitri H.
Andrew A.
Micah P.
Baxter D.
Max V.
Kyle G.

George D.
Craig B.
Isaac F.
Jonathan V.
Ryan R.
Domenic M.
Andrew G.

John K.
Owen T.
Jeff S.
Matthew L.
Coleman F.
May 2014 Calendar
Clinics Corner Header
 Don't just do something, sit there.
A mentor of mine shared these words of wisdom with me. In medicine we as providers often feel the need to intervene when our patents have complaints. After all, we are in this industry to help. But this is not always the best course of medicine in psychiatry and needs to be questioned by both the patient and practitioner. Patients in the process of becoming sober may experience a wide range of emotions. A lot of these emotions may be completely appropriate and normal. But they may feel foreign and uncomfortable to a client who is recently in the process of recovery and rediscovering their emotional selves. I encourage my clients to vocalize their emotional discomfort and take time to explore causation outside of psychiatric pathology. There are many visits with clients where no changes are made to their course of treatment. There are clients who are not used to this form of care. Sometimes clients just need to be heard and understood. Sometimes I care enough to just sit there.  

Jonathan graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 where he earned his MSN in psychiatric nursing. He has received the Connecticut League of Nurses Award and the Joan Lynaugh Award for Outstanding Clinical Scholarship. Jonathan has worked extensively with adolescents and adults with co-occurring psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. His philosophy is to educate and empower clients to become better self-advocates and consumers of mental health services.



Luke Gilleran, LADC, NCC, CCDP


Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner,
Turning Point

Resident Profile Joe M.
Joe M. is a resident currently in Phase III of the Turning Point program.

Joe has been through his share of rough patches on the road to recovery, but he is now doing well in the program and working hard to maintain a stable life and repair broken relationships.

Joe's troubles with drugs and alcohol began when he was sixteen. Over time his substance abuse progressed, and after he was sent to Tennessee for therapeutic boarding school at the age of seventeen his problems with addiction took over his entire life. "I basically was on my own," Joe said. "Given that opportunity I kind of took the drug and alcohol route because I didn't have anyone telling me that I couldn't use. I stayed down there six years and my addiction got progressively worse." 

Resident Profile - Quote

RESIDENT PROFILE - JOE M.Over time, Joe's substance abuse began to alienate him from his friends and family, and it took a drastic toll on his life. "I didn't have any friends," Joe said. "Everybody wrote me off. My addiction got so bad that I tried to kill myself. I called my parents and told them that I needed help, that I didn't want to die because of my addiction." Joe's parents gave them the option to enter primary treatment, and he took the opportunity in the hopes of getting, and staying, clean. "They were a little skeptical," Joe said. "They'd given me chances all throughout my young adult life, but they were also relieved that I would be some place safe." Joe made it almost the entire way through his initial primary treatment program, but was kicked out before graduation for having a relationship with a girl also in the program. The staff there recommended Turning Point's extended care program for additional treatment, starting a three-year long process of recovery and relapse for Joe, bound within the confines of a chaotic and dysfunctional relationship.

"I got here to Turning Point and I was hooked on [the girl from primary treatment]," Joe said. "We kept in touch. Everything I was doing I was thinking about her. Ultimately, I convinced myself that it was OK to leave. I think I was here probably about a month, and I packed my stuff up and I left." Joe moved in with the girl into a local hotel, and relapsed immediately. After a drunken argument, he was arrested for domestic dispute and spent one month in jail before his parents bonded him out.

Joe made a deal with his parents to reenter the program, but left after another month to move back in with the girl. Again, Joe began to fall back into his old ways and after a couple of months he was jailed for another domestic dispute, this time remaining behind bars for around three months. Once more his parents bonded him out, and he was invited into the program again under the condition that there be absolutely no contact with the girl.

Joe nevertheless remained in contact, this time cautiously, and made it through to Phase III before a suspicious case manager discovered text messages on his phone. He was kicked out for a third time, and once again moved in with the girl. "I was drinking off and on, and she was using drugs," Joe said. "Somewhere in the haze we winded up getting married by a Justice of the Peace." Within a short time after the impromptu wedding, Joe spent a year in county jail and three months in prison, and after his release he reentered the Turning Point program with commitment in mind and a strong desire to live better.

"I had a lot of time by myself to think about my life and where it was going," Joe said. "I thought about what I could gain from doing what was asked of me. Ultimately, I told myself to do whatever I had to do to get my life back on track and to get my family back in my life." Joe has turned his life around completely since coming back into the program, and he currently works as a Phase III House Manager. In addition to his responsibilities, including work and school, Joe mentors younger residents, and offers them key advice when needed. He is studying to become a Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counselor, and he is working hard to repair broken family bonds.

Unsung Hero Lauren Springer

Lauren Springer
is Turning Point's Unsung Hero for the month of May. Lauren is the Family Liaison, a crucial role that primarily provides support for the families of Turning Point's residents. "I help parents with their own recovery, which will, in the end, help their sons' recovery," Lauren said. "I'm available to parents 24-hours a day. I help them find meetings in their areas, and I run a couple of parent support groups. I facilitate the family healing workshop that we offer, and I work with case managers to help them help parents maintain their boundaries. Sometimes I'm a hand-holder, or an extra shoulder. I'm a good listener. I'm the mother of an addict, so I'm living it every day."

According to Lauren, the most difficult part of her work as Family Liaison revolves around the parent-child dynamic as it is affected in the wake of addiction. "I know what they're feeling," Lauren said. "I've been there. Every case is different, yet the same. We all love our sons, and would do anything for them. We need to understand that in our doing everything for them, we don't give our sons the respect and responsibility to help themselves. We don't allow them to feel their pain, we don't want them to. We feel as parents that it's our job to get in the way of that, but in order for them to grow, they need to feel that. These parents are some of the bravest people I know. They are willing to step out of their box of anonymity and not only say 'I know I can't do this alone,' but 'I'm here to help someone else.'" 

"I really do think that it's a privilege to work at Turning Point, and to meet the people that I've met and get to work with every single day. I don't take it lightly. I can't even narrow down [the most rewarding part]. It's definitely a combination of things. First, I have the privilege of working with some of the most amazing men that I've ever met. I look at them and see what they do with their lives, and I hope that one day my son can live the respectable life that they live. Second, when I see that a parent's been able to set a boundary and hold their line. When parents can see the results, and then feel pride in the work that their sons are doing; that's a great feeling."
Alumni Life Vinny C.
Vinny C. is a recent graduate of the Turning Point program. He spent several years in and out of various treatment centers, but since entering Turning Point's extended-care, reintegration program, Vinny has discovered the benefits and stability of living a sober life.

   Vinny's problems with drugs began in his early teenage years. Like many addicts, he began smoking marijuana and sold drugs as a teen. Over time, his drug abuse shifted, depending on what he was currently selling, and at the age of sixteen he became addicted to opiates. During this time period he was arrested on several occasions, with charges ranging from possession to breaking and entering.

   "I was living from couch to couch," Vinny said. "I spent a lot of nights sleeping outside. I was breaking into houses, getting high, and being miserable." At the age of 20, four years after becoming addicted to opiates, Vinny attempted his first treatment program. "I did a week and then I got out," Vinny said. "The day I got out I started getting high." 

   This cycle of short-term recovery attempts and relapse continued for a while, including sixteen detox visits and five extended care programs. "I didn't really want to get clean," Vinny said. "I wasn't really sure about this time, but I figured I'd give it a shot. In [primary treatment] they suggested Turning Point, and I said I'd go."

   At Turning Point, Vinny found the environment and structure that he needed. Vinny credits the Turning Point program for the mixture of increasing freedom and teaching necessary life skills. "Turning Point was really one of the only extended care programs that I went all the way through and actually completed," Vinny said. "It was definitely the way it was set up. You don't have too much freedom at first, but they take you out to do stuff. You're sober, but you still have fun. As they give you more freedom you learn how to manage your time and money. The case managers and support staff played a big part, and the guys that I went through the program with are all a lot of my good friends now."

   Since embracing recovery, Vinny has noticed several changes within himself, and he is in the process of mending broken relationships with his family. "I actually care about people now," Vinny said. "I have responsibilities that I put before other things. Before I go out and have fun I make sure that all of my bills are paid. I make sure all of my stuff is taken care of. I've definitely matured, and I take pride in my sobriety. My family is in my life now. They asked me to come home for Easter; in the past four years they never wanted me to come home for any holidays. I'm paying my own way, and it feels good. Things are better than they ever were."
From the Family Header
Caroline B. is the mother of Brian, a resident in Phase III of the Turning Point program. After Brian was rushed to the hospital for overdosing during his senior year of high school, he and his family sought out professional help for his addiction. Since coming to Turning Point, Brian has maintained his commitment to recovery, and he and his family are on the mend.

Caroline became fully aware of Brian's addiction during his senior year of high school. "That was when it really got bad," Caroline said. "He's basically one of the sweetest kids, but when he was taking this stuff he would just rage all the time. It was very difficult; he was almost impossible to live with. You never knew when he was going to fly off the handle. It was not an acceptable way of living."

Brian's condition affected the entire family, particularly his twin brother. "The two of them are very close," Caroline said. "There wasn't really anything he could do, and it's really hard to watch someone you love drowning, and turning into something that they're not. It's a horrible thing."

During the Fourth of July weekend in his senior year, Brian overdosed at home and was rushed to the hospital. This event marked an important moment for Caroline: she realized that they as a family needed professional help to treat Brian's condition. "We wanted to believe that there was something we could do to fix it," Caroline said. "When we wound up in the hospital I realized we weren't going to be able to do this on our own; it was out of our league."

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At this point, it was clear to Brian's family that he wasn't ready to come home, and during his hospital stay they decided to seek additional treatment. A social worker gave the family several options, and in the end Brian decided on Turning Point's extended care program. According to Caroline, the community and support network that the Turning Point program creates is essential for recovery and continuing sobriety. "Turning Point has been such a game-changer," Caroline said. "He was very resistant at first, but he eventually realized that [Turning Point] works. If he hadn't come to Turning Point, I don't even know that he'd be alive."

"He's genuinely happy now. He seems very grateful and appreciative of his family. He's working very hard, and doing a good job. I think he sees the possibilities. At this point, he has choices to make about what his next steps are. If he hadn't come to Turning Point, those choices would have been made for him. He actually has a life to plan now, and it can be a life that he chooses. I think he's really excited about that. We're unbelievably proud of him. He, with the help of Turning Point, has turned his life around 180 degrees."
Dave President's Greeting
A friend of mine asked me if I enjoy my position at Turning Point. Without thinking twice, looking him squarely in the eye, I replied I would not have it any other way, that I am literally living my most distant dream. As I make my way around the Turning Point campus, it is not unusual for me to be bombarded by clients with requests, with suggestions, and most rewarding, with questions about recovery. I am overwhelmed with emotion as I see the life come back into each one of our clients: the inherent curiosity about life that had disappeared amidst substance abuse and addiction. When I am asked about recovery, I am overjoyed that clients are wondering. I do not frown upon doubt. I am a firm believer that doubt is a catalyst to questioning and with questioning we find solutions.

Just recently, a client inquired as to why he is required to go to 12-step meetings while in Turning Point. He listed a number of statistics as to why 12-step recovery might not work. I simply shared my experience with him - that in all my years of addiction and recovery, 12-step recovery is what worked for me and is what works for the millions of people who attend meetings all over the world. I shared with him that there are innumerable reasons why recovery may not work, but there is only one reason it will: because it has to. I asked him if he was willing to keep an open mind, and he was. I asked him if he would continue to lean on the resources that Turning Point affords him, and he said he would. And lastly, I asked him if he would continue to be honest with us as the process unfolded, and he said yes.

With that, I shook his hand, and we parted ways. I left that conversation more content with my life than ever before, because while there was doubt, this young man was willing to explore his doubt. And ultimately, that willingness may save his life.

David Vieau
President, Turning Point

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