"Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living Alumni share their stories about their memories, friendships, experiences, and perspectives of their time at Turnbridge. Enjoy the stories and consider sharing your own. Send your Alumni Experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org."
A Journey From Mom's Basement To Independent Sober Living
In a single month, Chris T. lost his job, his apartment, and very nearly his life. He was found unconscious in the basement of his mother's house -- he had been so for nearly eight hours. He had overdosed on heroin and spent eight days in the hospital. He had suffered muscle damage, heart complications and, at the time, his doctors were afraid the overdose might have cause brain damage as well. Despite this, Chris says the only thing he thought about while lying in his hospital bed was getting high again. When he was discharged, that's exactly what he did. But that's not the end of the story. Nor is it the beginning. When Chris was 12 years old, his father passed away. Though he says this is not the reason he began using drugs and alcohol, he does admit it affected him in other ways -- he learned to internalize his emotions and his frustrations. When he began drinking at age 14, it wasn't long until he began using other drugs. It was a way to cope perhaps, but was also the beginning of a life of dependency Chris's father introduced him to golf at 5 years old. He's been playing ever since. Chris was good at it too, good enough to get him a full scholarship to the University of South Florida. He played for them for four years, but says during college his golf career began to take a backseat to his drug use. Still, Chris says he was able to "skate by by the skin of his teeth." He didn't finish his degree, but after four years Chris was able to find a job as assistant professional at a golf course in Shelton Conn. -- a job he was proud to have. But even with this achievement, Chris's drug use began to spiral out of control. That's when he lost it all. In the span of a month, he was arrested twice. He lost his job, lost his apartment, and nearly wound up dead. Soon Chris says he was stealing from his family every chance he got. He would disappear from his mother's home and live out of his car for days at a time, too ashamed to face his family. But then his mother called with an offer -- a drug rehab center in Cape Cod called Gosnold. Chris says he said yes because he had no choice -- he had nothing, nowhere to go, no alternative. He says he was convinced he was either going to die of his addiction, or that he would live out the rest of his days in misery, a casualty of it. So he decided to get clean. And when he did, something clicked. During drug treatment, Chris made a decision. He says he doesn't know what brought it on, but he knew he couldn't go back home -- back to the same faces, the same places that were home to his addiction. A counselor at Gosnold told him about Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living for young men. "I gave up the whole other life I was living," Chris says. "I was fortunate enough to have the gift of desperation." The life he received in exchange was one of recovery. Chris says he remembers one day during Phase I at Turnbridge when the weight of that new life hit him all at once. "I remember being in Phase I and sitting on the porch with my sponsor and that opened up a whole new world to me," Chris says. "Being around other guys who are struggling with the same thing and knowing we're all experiencing these emotions together -- that we're all struggling, able to support each other." He says his sponsor Derek told him that he had a responsibility to help others in the same way Derek was helping him. So that's what Chris tried to do. He became a chore master while in Phase I, helping direct the household that he shared with the other residents. He chaired a tenth step meeting and became a mentor for other Phase I residents. During Phase II he volunteered at a soup kitchen, an experience he says was one of the most powerful of his life. He says he was able to make a difference in the lives of those he needed help, and helping them helped him too. During Phase III Sober Living he became a house manager, acting as a role model for the others in his household and encouraging them to continue moving down the path of recovery. Today Chris is a proud graduate of Turnbridge. He's currently an operations manager at Golf Galaxy in Milford Conn., a job he says holds promise for future advancement. As for his degree, Chris says he has one online class left at the University of South Florida before graduation. While he says he's not sure what he's going to do next, he does have an idea of where he's going to do it. "I live in downtown New Haven right now. I live with some sober guys and that's something that I never really expected was going to happen. I didn't know I was going to stay in New Haven after I completed Turnbridge until I started meeting other sober young men here... meeting people in the program," Chris says. "I couldn't really imagine myself living anywhere else."