“Turnbridge 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.”
Rocky Mountain High Eli graduated from the Turnbridge program in August of 2011, and now attends Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Addiction took over his life at the age of 14, when he began taking pills and using Ketamine. “I couldn’t stop getting high and drunk,” Eli said. “I was blacking out a lot and waking up to bad days. Several times I woke up while getting into a car accident.” At 16, Eli went into his first drug rehab program, after which things got much worse. “For about a year and a half it got progressively worse and worse,” Eli said. “I was miserable, and I hated myself and my life. I couldn’t imagine life with drinking or without it, and I didn’t know what to do. At one point, my parents said ‘if you don’t go [to detox] we’re going to kick you out, give you no money, and not talk to you.’ Even though I fought it for a little, I was beaten down enough to say yes. I had a big moment of clarity when I was 17, when I realized how [bad] I was. I went to a lot of concerts, and they became more about doing drugs and less about the music.” At this point, Eli made the decision to recover, and he spent six months at Gosnold at Cataumet drug treatment center in Massachusetts. While there, the counselors recommended the Turnbridge program for extended care and sober living, and Eli became a resident in New Haven in October of 2009. “When I do what’s suggested and I do the work and I try my best, I stay sober,” says Eli. With the help of Turnbridge, and the added support of the 12-step program and a sponsor from AA, Eli was able to successfully turn his life around. “I realized that I was really lucky to not have much to worry about aside from being sober,” Eli said. “I had the most fun that I’ve had in my life. Turnbridge is where I learned how to live. There was a lot of work. I learned how to communicate, how to connect with people, and how to cope with life.” “[From Turnbridge] I’ve got a foundation, and from that foundation I’ve grown a lot. I’m in a good place through sponsorship and 12 steps. The reason I love Turnbridge so much, and also hated it, is that it provided function. They taught me how to grow up. There was a lot of tough love, which I really needed, and it turned me from a boy into a man.” While in the latter phases of the Turnbridge program (sober living), Eli began researching colleges across the United States, and found one that now allows him to study his passion, music. “I play the drums and produce electronic music on the computer,” Eli said. “Things are going really good, and I love it. I’m doing pretty well. I couldn’t imagine something that I could be more passionate about.” “I would recommend Turnbridge for sober living. There are things that I hated, and that I love, but it’s an undeniable fact that I learned how to live there. The amount that I grew up is unbelievable. It changed my ability to live life. It was hard, but I stayed sober and grew up.”
From Mirmont Treatment Center to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living and Beyond Jeff is a recent graduate from the Turnbridge Long Term Drug Rehab program following a residency that lasted a little under a year, from October 26, 2011, to October 1, 2012. Like many of Turnbridge’s residents, Jeff began the use of drugs and alcohol during his early teenage years and his path to extended care brought him through several other drug treatment centers. “I started doing drugs when I was 14 or 15,” Jeff said. “I began by drinking and smoking pot, and later went on to the harder stuff like LSD, ecstasy, mushrooms, and pills. I was a habitual user of acid for about five years. Every couple of days I’d do like ten hits, and that continued for a few years.” Jeff’s continual drug use altered his entire lifestyle as a young adult. “I don’t completely remember the past six years of my life, because of the amount of drugs that I did. From what I was told I hung out with all the druggies, and abandoned all of the childhood friends that I had.” On August 8, 2011, Jeff was in a car accident, an event that spurred him and his family to take action. “I don’t really remember everything,” Jeff said. “I sat down with my parents, and decided to go into drug treatment.” Jeff’s initial primary care facility was Mirmont Treatment Center in Pennsylvania. While Jeff was there, counselors recommended Park Bench Group Counseling in New Jersey, which subsequently referred him to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living after a 47-day stay. “The recreational activities at Turnbridge were extremely important,” Jeff said. “During any downtime that I had, I would just be in my own head, and that’s not good for recovery.” In addition to recreation, the 12 steps and Turnbridge’s phases were crucial to Jeff’s recovery. “I think that, for me, progression through the steps was the most helpful,” Jeff said. “My case managers made sure that I was working on my steps with my sponsor, and being able to do that, while working at Turnbridge, aided in my recovery.” “Before treatment, I wasn’t really doing anything. I would just sit around with friends and get high. At Turnbridge, I was doing all the activities that were available. I was on-board with everything during recovery. Everything they told me to do, I was completely willing to do.” While a resident, Jeff worked as house manager for Turnbridge’s Sober Living Phase III Morris Cove location, and since graduation, he is continuing his work as a member of support staff for Phase II. “Working with the residents helps my sobriety,” Jeff said. “As a house manager, I noticed that working for Turnbridge shows you the whole other side of addiction recovery. I think it’s nice to give back to a place that’s helped me out so much.” Jeff is currently studying Computer Systems at Gateway Community College, and plans to work in the computer field after graduation. Since completing his addiction treatment program, Jeff spends the majority of his time working, going to school, and hanging out with friends. Although he will go home to visit his family in Pennsylvania, Jeff plans to live in New Haven at his current sober house where he has a good support network. “I would definitely recommend Turnbridge,” Jeff said. “They helped me out so much. I went from having horrible friend/family relationships and stealing cars to having friends from my childhood wanting to hang out with me. I have a great relationship with my family, and I have friends here that can come to me if they need me.”
On The Right Path Alex came to the Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living program after completing primary drug treatment at Caron Treatment Center in Pennsylvania. He was addicted to alcohol and drugs, primarily opiates, and after completing the young adult program at Caron, the staff there recommended Turnbridge in New Haven for extended care and sober living. Alex was a resident at Turnbridge for about a year, graduating on July 25, 2012. Alex said he became addicted to drugs and alcohol because of his love for their effects on the body, but once his parents pushed him to seek help, he decided to change his life for the better. “Turnbridge taught me how to live,” Alex said. “The recreational activities helped out a lot. I also had a video game addiction and it helped me get over that. It helped me become a man.” Alex attributed his recovery to two people especially, Chris Lynn and Chas Lankford, Turnbridge staff who both helped shape his recovery and provided examples of what it meant to be a responsible sober young man. “Turnbridge was more of a home to me. Their sober living program lets you go to school and work part-time. Overall, Turnbridge just helped me to grow up.” Although Alex’s parents are divorced, he is fortunate enough to have had support from all family members throughout his ordeal. “My parents help out when they can,” Alex said. “My mom is really nice, and my dad is really helpful. They support me and it’s great.” Alex said that everyone in his family is supportive and helpful, including his siblings and step-family. Since graduation, Alex has moved back to his home town in Pennsylvania. “It’s going well,” Alex said. “I’m going to about three AA meetings a week, and working at Panera Bread.” Alex enjoys the meetings in his hometown, and is more comfortable there because many of the members are around his age. While a resident at Turnbridge, Alex studied Computer Science at Gateway Community College in New Haven. He now plans to further his education by continuing studies in his home state, after which he wants to start a career as a computer programmer.
A Good Network…Great Friends Anthony started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol when he was 12 years old. His recreational drug use extended to pills and cocaine throughout high school, blossoming into heroin addiction by the time Anthony was 18. “Everything turned into a disaster in high school,” Anthony said. “I went from being a star athlete and having baseball scholarships offered to becoming academically ineligible to play sports my senior year and they pulled the scholarships off the table.” At this point in Anthony’s life, high school friends were moving on to college and progressing with their lives while he was left behind. “I tried to go to junior college, but it didn’t really work out,” Anthony said, and by that point he was sniffing heroin. He spent a lot of his life as a young adult in and out of various detox and rehab programs in the Boston area. Anthony’s first detox experience was at age 18 when he was prescribed Methadone for his opiate addiction. After relapsing, he was in this third detox attempt by 19, when doctors there gave him Suboxone. Over the next five years, Anthony was visiting his detox center frequently to receive the Suboxone prescription, but kept using heroin in the meantime. “I would go through periods where I would do the right things, a couple of months, a few weeks,” Anthony said, but he made no conscious effort to be completely sober. “Suboxone was that scapegoat for me. Each week I knew when I could use heroin, and I would have no consequences.” After Anthony missed several appointments at the detox center, and finally showed up with significantly high opiate levels in his urine test, staff at the center gave him an ultimatum. Anthony said, “They told me ‘Anthony look, you’ve been doing this for years. How bad do you really want it?’” They threatened to take Anthony off of Suboxone completely, something he didn’t want to happen, so he went through detox at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston. Following the heroin detox, Anthony went to Gosnold on Cape Cod, a drug addiction treatment center in Cataumet, Massachusetts. While spending 40 days there, he had a breakthrough following a conversation with a counselor named Rachel. “She told me Suboxone was one of my problems,” Anthony said,” and that I knew I could fall back on it as a crutch. At that rehab, I ended up detoxing off the Suboxone to get off everything together.” Some of Anthony’s friends at Gosnold told him about the Turnbridge program in New Haven, Connecticut for extended care and sober living. He waited until a spot opened, and became a resident in September, 2011. “I had been to numerous detoxes and drug rehabs, but I had never been to an extended stay sober living program like Turnbridge before,” Anthony said. “I liked the recreational activities. You come to a place like Turnbridge and you initially get that camaraderie and you grow relationships with the guys who are struggling through the same situations. ” Anthony graduated and left Turnbridge on August 1, 2012, after spending about ten months in the sober living program. He got a job at a restaurant in New Haven while a resident, and continues to work there after graduation. He said he is staying sober and happy with life in New Haven; he’s got a good network and great friends. Anthony said the case managers at Turnbridge “help along the way to motivate, provide recommendations, and serve as positive role models. “ In the program residents are held accountable for even simple tasks like making their beds and cleaning, and Anthony said these responsibilities have carried over into life after graduation. “I absolutely would recommend Turnbridge to other young men for sober living. Without a doubt I’d be dead or still using if it wasn’t for Turnbridge. It saved my life.”
“Building” His Way Back When Dave was a kid, he would hang out at his father’s shop down the street from his home. When Dave finished high school he started working there, pouring concrete for the family business. When Dave was 20, he lost his spleen in a dirt bike accident. That’s when he was first prescribed painkillers. In high school Dave says he liked to party. He smoked pot, drank, and occasionally dabbled in harder drugs. Once prescribed painkillers, it wasn’t long before Dave folded them into this party lifestyle — finishing entire prescriptions in a week. Dave fed his addiction by buying opiates off the street — OxyContin, Percocet, anything he could get his hands on. “Before you know it I was sticking a needle in my arm,” Dave says. This was Dave at 21 years old. And though he may have thought there was no turning back at the time, five years later he’s learned otherwise. Today, Dave is on the path to recovery, a successful graduate of the Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living program. But things got worse before they got better. He was still working for the family business when his addiction fully manifested itself. “I was making good money, a lot more than I should have,” Dave says. “I had everything. I had the world by the hair. But I kept going with it.” Then Dave says his mother found the marks on his arms. He went to a detox program, but relapsed when he got out. “That went on three more times. Detox, come home, relapse,” Dave says. “I relapsed again but I had this game face on where everything was fine. The last time I relapsed I had an anxiety attack. I drove to the hospital and they gave me a bunch of anti-anxiety meds and I ended up driving out of the hospital and falling asleep at the wheel. I got my first DUI. And that’s when my life got really unmanageable.” Because he couldn’t drive, Dave was laid off from his job. After this, he hit rock bottom. His life was consumed by drugs. But then his family gave him one more chance. He went for drug treatment at Mountainside in Canaan Conn., and after 30 days there he went to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living. “It changed my life,” Dave says. “At first I did it to get everyone off my back. Obviously I wanted to change. I wanted my life to get back to normal. I was sick and tired of letting everyone down. At first I got sober for everyone else, but in the past couple months I finally got sober for me,” Dave says. “I came to Turnbridge expecting to stay just a couple months, but my life kept getting better and better.” Dave applied himself totally to Turnbridge. In Phase II, he started working as a resident coordinator. In Phase III, he became a house manager. Dave says he wanted to get back to work as quickly as possible, and the staff at Turnbridge helped him do that. Today Dave has an apartment with a friend and is back to work laying concrete for the family business. “My main objective is to stay sober,” Dave says. “My second is that I want to have a big part in the family company. I want to get my foot in the door and put my name on the company one day. You know, working for a living.”
A Journey From Mom’s Basement To Independent 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 treatment 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.”