JJ B. is a resident currently in Phase III of Turnbridge’s Preparative Care program. After failing out of college and almost destroying himself mentally and physically through the use of alcohol and drugs, JJ found the Turnbridge program and has worked feverishly to build a foundation in sobriety and find a purpose in his life.
JJ began drinking alcohol at the age of 14. From his very first drink, JJ felt like he had found his solution. He quickly found himself drinking or smoking marijuana on a daily basis and his new life, immersed in the drinking and drugging culture, became his identity. “I always felt different,” explains JJ. “But regardless of how good of friends I had, I always felt like I had one foot outside of the circle… It was being the guy always smoking [marijuana] and having it that made me feel a part of.” JJ’s substance abuse continued to escalate through high school and into college. In 2007, he left home for Colorado State in the hopes that the region’s acceptance of marijuana use would provide a welcoming culture for his way of life.
Like with many young addicts, the newfound freedom of college provided the opportunity for JJ’s addiction to rapidly progress. In his sophomore year, JJ moved off-campus and began drinking more than he ever had. The alcoholic symptoms of manipulation and dishonesty manifested. He was asked to leave the university in 2009. By this time, JJ had developed a progressed physical addiction to alcohol. “I would wake up in the morning shaking,” confesses JJ. “I justified it in my head, but I couldn’t even write my own name because my hands were shaking so bad. I had to drink at the beginning of each day just to function.”
He continued on that path and worked odd jobs and part-time jobs for the next several years, manipulating his parents and brother into thinking that everything was okay. By the end of 2013, JJ had reached rock bottom. “I had no job and spent all day in my basement drinking to the point where I was basically agoraphobic,” says JJ. “The only time I left my basement was to get more booze or cigarettes … I was drinking to accept the fact that I was an alcoholic.” JJ had dwindled down to 120 pounds and had difficulty holding down food. “I was a shell of my former self,” he admits.
In February of 2014, JJ’s mother came out to visit him in Colorado, and instead of going through the usual routine of cleaning himself up before her visit, JJ decided to show her what he had become. “She immediately knew something was wrong,” says JJ. “I was dying in front of her eyes.” Around the same time, JJ’s brother confessed to his mother that he believed JJ’s drinking had become debilitating. JJ’s mother confronted him about his drinking and gave him the option of going to a rehab center. “As soon as she gave me the chance to do something, I had to take it because I knew I was going to die, and I didn’t want to die,” JJ insists.
JJ entered detox and then a 30-day treatment center near his home in Maryland. He had his doubts about a life of sobriety, but he listened to counselors and slowly began to accept the fact that he was an addict. Towards the end of his stay in primary treatment, he began looking into a long-term treatment program, and a brochure for Turnbridge stuck out to him. “I felt that a sober house was not enough for me,” says JJ. “I was pretty thoroughly beaten to the point where I was willing to sacrifice a year of my life to have a chance to get it right the first time.” On March 19, 2014, JJ came to New Haven and enrolled in Phase I of Turnbridge. Since his arrival, JJ has done an enormous amount of work building a foundation in recovery for his future. “I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to work on myself without Turnbridge,” says JJ. “I think AA saved my life, and Turnbridge gave me a solid introduction to AA.”
In July, JJ began working as a member of Turnbridge’s Support Staff. “This is the best job I’ve had by leaps and bounds,” declares JJ. “Every day I get to come in and do my best to try and help people.” After his graduation from Turnbridge in April, JJ plans to stay in New Haven and get an apartment with a few sober friends.