Alex F. graduated on Thursday, October 24, after successfully completing the Turnbridge program. Before coming to Turnbridge, he underwent primary treatment at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, and since embarking upon the road to recovery he has experienced a shift in perspective that continues to influence his daily life. Addiction first surfaced in Alex's life during his freshman year of college. While attending the University of Michigan, he developed a gambling addiction, and over time gambling gave way to substance abuse. "I was basically drinking and using almost every day," Alex said. "I would usually go on 4 or 5-day binges, and then sleep for a day and a half, and repeat." This pattern of dangerous behavior continued for a year, until Alex was confronted by one of his best friends, on behalf of a group of mutual friends. "He said that it'd become apparent that I was using drugs. He said they loved me, and they wanted me to seek help, and if I chose not to they couldn't be friends with me anymore. I had a moment of clarity, I guess. I realized that I had a problem, and that I needed to get help." Alex initially confided in a friend's father, a psychologist, and a few days later he broke the news to his parents. His parents were saddened by the news, but relieved that he was admitting his addiction and taking the necessary steps to seek help. At the time, he planned to enter an outpatient rehab program located in Manhattan, but in another "moment of clarity," Alex decided that he needed something more. Within two weeks, he was enrolled at Silver Hill for in-patient primary treatment. According to Alex, Silver Hills provided him with a concrete foundation for building his sober life. "It was very intensive," Alex said. "I started to first hear the message about sobriety at Silver Hill." In primary treatment, Alex learned the basics of sobriety, and he was introduced to AA and the 12 steps. Halfway through primary treatment, therapists at Silver Hill recommended that he go to an extended care program. Alex's initial reaction was anger, but after taking time to think about the matter, he once again realized that it was another necessary step. The phased reintegration program at Turnbridge helped Alex to build upon the foundations of sobriety he gained at Silver Hills. Turnbridge took those "ingredients" and gave him a "recipe for life, and how to live." "I started to learn how to plan out and structure my own days," Alex said. "I learned how to live again in society. When I went into treatment, I still had this idea that I wasn't harming myself, and that I wasn't harming other people. Everything was always about me. In the last year and a half, I've become aware that I was making everything about myself, and that I wasn't thinking about how I harmed other people, especially my parents. One thing that's been really amazing for me is that I've become a lot more aware of how my actions affect other people, and I really go that extra mile. It's definitely a passion of mine, reaching out and helping a guy that's struggling, or something as simple as holding the door for someone. It's an amazing gift of sobriety." Alex plans to move into a local sober house, and soon get an apartment in the New Haven area with other Turnbridge graduates while taking classes to finish his undergraduate degree. Throughout Alex's ordeal, his family has been a crucial aspect of his recovery process. "I can't stress enough how important the support of my family has been," Alex said. "Honestly, today I feel overwhelmingly filled with love and gratitude. I feel so amazingly lucky and blessed to be a part of such a caring, supportive, strong, and loving family." "I never thought I would say something like this, but the high I get from being an active, present, and loyal son, brother, and friend is more fulfilling than any high I could get drinking or using. One thing that has been extremely liberating for me is coming to the realization that I'm not unique. I'm the same as my peers. All judgments aside, all of us want to be loved, respected, and have a sense of security. When I look at the world like this I feel a sense of connectedness and freedom."