John K. graduated the Turnbridge program on Thursday, February 19. In his last few years before coming to New Haven, John’s life was a tangled web of jails, institutions, and near death experiences, but he has since made a decision to embrace recovery and commit himself to a life in sobriety.
John began drinking alcohol in 7th grade. A devoted and talented athlete, John did not initially allow drugs or alcohol to get in the way of sports. In 10th grade, a sports injury gave him a significant amount of free time and his drug use quickly escalated. He started experimenting with different substances and surrounding himself with people who were doing the same. Athletics soon became less important. He continued to excel on the field, but off the field his addiction was festering and his drug use was becoming more and more frequent. In 12th grade, John was introduced to opiates. “It started with a couple of the guys on the team doing it,” explains John. “Before I knew, by the end of the season I was addicted. I was doing it in the bathrooms and I was going through withdrawals.”
John began lying and stealing from his parents to pay for drugs. He was developing a severe addiction to opiates, but was able to keep up appearances. “As long as I had good grades, my parents were oblivious to everything else,” John says. “On the outside everything was good, but inside I was really crying for help.” Despite his substance abuse, John was still able to perform athletically and after high school he committed to play baseball at Towson University. By the time he arrived at Towson, drugs and alcohol had become much more important than sports, and John decided to quit the baseball team after only a few weeks. The opiate use continued to progress and he began selling drugs to support his habit.
In March of 2010, after withdrawal symptoms became unbearable, John confronted his parents about his addiction. He was sent to treatment in Albany, New York, but left after only nine days. John relapsed the day after he got home, and picked up right where he left off. He went back to Towson and manipulated his way through an outpatient program that his parents insisted he attend. Toward the end of 2011, John began using heroin.
In 2012, John’s legal troubles began. He was assigned to drug court because of selling prescription painkillers and the next few years John repeatedly violated the conditions of the drug court program. He was given multiple chances, but he continued to use. “They would send me to jail, then they would send me to rehab, jail, then rehab, jail, then rehab” admits John. “I just kept violating.”
On January 9, 2014, while on a last chance contract with court, John used heroin once again after a period of sobriety. “The next thing I knew I woke up with the paramedics over me,” says John. “My parents and sisters were standing over me as the paramedics brought me back to life.” On an instinct, his mother and father had broken down the door to his room and found John having an overdose. “Seeing the look on my parents faces that night broke my heart into a million pieces,” confesses John.
John went to straight from the hospital to jail the next day. After spending two months in jail, John was given the opportunity to go to drug treatment and on March 1, 2014 he enrolled at Turnbridge. He spent his first few weeks in the program “faking it to make it”, but eventually things began to sink in. He developed close relationships with a few other residents and began finding comfort in his own skin. “I started feeling like a normal human being,” says John. “Going out to community service and helping others made me feel better about myself. It slowly built my confidence and made me realize that I can be sober and have fun.”
In Phase III, John was recognized for his hard work and given a job as a Turnbridge House Manager. He spent his time in Phase III strengthening his sober network and creating a solid foundation for a life in recovery. He is currently taking a few courses at Southern Connecticut State University and this week will begin working at Turnbridge as a member of the Support Staff. “I want to stay connected with Turnbridge because I believe in what they do,” says John.