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Meet Our Residents

Resident profiles

“There’s no one better to describe the special care Turnbridge provides than our residents. They can tell you not only about their history of substance abuse and experience at drug treatment programs , but also about the concern, guidance and expert care they received at our extended care sober living program.” 


From Hazelden to Caron to Turnbridge Extended Care and Sober Living Like most of the residents here, Alex came to Turnbridge after the program was recommended to him by a previous primary addiction treatment program.  Alex began adopting an addictive lifestyle early in life, starting to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol when he was 12.  “When I was 13 I started using meth,” Alex said.  “That was the big one for me.  I still used lots of other stuff, I did a lot of experimenting, but meth and alcohol stuck with me.”  He was put in a psych ward on a couple of occasions due to his recreational LSD usage, and began to spiral out of control after his discharge. One of Alex’s moments of clarity came when he was entered into an intensive care unit following a drug overdose.  “I called my mom to come pick me up,” Alex said.  “She would always pick me up in these situations, and she told me that she didn’t want to see me anymore.”  This was a low-point for Alex, and at the age of 16 he decided to seek treatment. “The first treatments went well,” Alex said.  “I was a little reluctant about the sobriety situation, but when I looked back at what I had caused and how miserable I was, I wanted to change it.  I was on board with everything then so it didn’t take me that long.”  Alex spent one month at Hazelden in Minnesota and following the staff’s recommendation, he was able to receive a scholarship to enter the young adult male extended care program at Caron Treatment Center in Wernersville, PA for three months.   The staff at Caron suggested the Turnbridge program in New Haven for long term drug rehab, and with the help of a scholarship, Alex was able to make the trip. As a resident, Alex found the personal nature of the Turnbridge program to be very helpful in his recovery process.  “I became close with the support staff,” Alex said.  “I got to know my case managers really well as opposed to them just checking in on me once a week.  The fact that everyone there is in recovery is big, and I can connect with everyone on that level.” Like many, Alex found that his interests and hobbies changed during his period of prolonged drug use.  “I was really into music, and I played baseball and basketball,” Alex said.  “The more I used, the less I did that stuff.  Nothing mattered more to me that getting out of myself, and the only way I knew how to do that was to get high.  When I got to Turnbridge, I got to play music again, and reconnecting with music was really important for me.” After graduation, Alex plans on moving into an Oxford sober living home in the New Haven area where he will continue his recovery efforts.  He dropped out of high school in the latter part of his sophomore year, and is currently taking online classes in order to receive his diploma in June of this year.  Once that is complete, Alex plans to continue his education within a nursing program, either in Boston or at one of the local schools. “I have a good sober network in New Haven, so I may just stay here,” Alex said.  “I would absolutely recommend Turnbridge.  The sober living program is designed on a personal, case-by-case basis, and the phase system is extremely helpful with recovery.  They help to establish an AA program and integrate you into society.  Turnbridge saved my life.”


From Hazelden to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living Our Resident Profile highlights a current resident. Here we focus on Tommy, who came to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living after completing primary drug treatment at Hazelden Treatment Center in Center City, MN. Tommy started smoking marijuana with his older brother at a young age, beginning a descent into a drug-related lifestyle that heavily influenced his teenage years and particularly dictated his friendships and social life. His recreational marijuana use eventually led to years of prescription painkiller addiction and a later affair with heroin. After about six months of heroin abuse, Tom passed out during class at his high school in June, 2011, at the age of 17, and the incident led to his first treatment at an addiction treatment center in Southern Massachusetts. Tommy said that the first treatment was forced on him, but by the time he came to Turnbridge, “he was ready to change.” Following the initial drug treatment, he spent several months in five other addiction centers, eventually admitting himself into a Hazelden Treatment Center in Center City, Minnesota. “I was at Hazelden for just under three months,” Tom said, “and they recommended that I come to Turnbridge for extended care and sober living here in New Haven.” Tom has been a resident in Turnbridge’s Extended Care Sober Living program for 10 months, and is scheduled to graduate in January. “We made a pro/con list between staying in New Haven and going back to Massachusetts,” he said, and New Haven won. “It would be easier to fall back into drugs [in Massachusetts] because I was comfortable there.” After graduation from Phase III later this month, Tommy said he is planning on going into an Oxford house for sober living in New Haven, and he plans on living in the area for a couple of years. “Turnbridge tries to get you to do the right thing,” Tom said. “They’re really hands-on, and they’re doing to it to be able to see you lead a better life and stay sober, not just to make money and meet girls.”


From La Hacienda to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living Our Resident Profile highlights a current resident. Here we focus on Wade, who came to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living after completing primary drug treatment at La Hacienda in Hunt, TX. Wade began the path to drug and alcohol addiction early in life, starting to drink and smoke at the age of 12.  He started out by smoking marijuana and gradually made the change to opiates which later culminated in his addiction to heroin.  “At that point in my life, I felt I would end up homeless and possibly dead by the time I was 25,” Wade said.  “I made a personal decision to turn my life around and become clean and sober, and I told my parents that I needed help.” For drug rehab Wade went to the La Hacienda Treatment Center located about 80 outside of San Antonio, TX during December, 2011, where he was open to suggestions and ready to make any necessary life changes.  “My counselor at La Hacienda recommended the Turnbridge program here in New Haven for sober living, so that’s what did,” Wade said.  He packed up his life and left family behind, becoming a Turnbridge resident on January 16, 2012. Although life here, and the city of New Haven itself, are different than what Wade was accustomed to in his hometown of Austin, he has improved dramatically in the time spent as a resident.  Wade said, “Turnbridge pushes me in a lot of different ways to get better and stay sober, to deal with my frustrations and to have patience.”  Since coming to Connecticut, Wade has been very busy in the effort to better his life.  Aside from a part-time job at Starbucks, he is a Phase III house manager at Turnbridge, providing support for his fellow housemates and helping to enforce curfew so that residents are able to stay productive throughout their days. “Growing up, I was expected to go to college and become successful at whatever I set my mind to,” Wade said, and during the time spent at Turnbridge, he has developed a long-term plan for his personal success.  He is currently attending Gateway Community College in his pursuit of a Psychology degree.  Wade plans on using his life experiences along with his ongoing education to help people as a case manager for Turnbridge.  He also plans on pursuing a Master’s degree in the hopes of one day opening his own private practice as a therapist.


From Turnbridge to Hazelden and Back Again Our Resident Profile highlights a current resident. Here we focus on Mike, who came to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living after completing primary drug treatment at Hazelden Treatment Center in Center City, MN. Mike is currently a Phase III resident at Turnbridge after spending several years bouncing around drug treatment centers throughout the United States.  Mike has taken a winding path to Turnbridge, and he has seen more than his fair share of ups-and-downs, but he is currently on the right track in recovery and will celebrate a full year of sobriety later this month. Mike’s story in regards to drugs and alcohol began in his early teenage years.  “I started drinking and smoking weed when I was about 14 years old, right when high school started,” Mike said.  “I got into cocaine later in high school, and when I went away to college at 18 I was more into cocaine and was introduced to Oxycontin.”  Unlike many people, Mike did not undergo any major social change in these first few years of habitual drug usage.  “I hung out with the same friends,” Mike said.  “We were all into the same things together, and a bunch of them have also gone into rehab.  I think I was the most extreme, though, and I veered into that path during college.” In 2007, at the age of 20, Mike was entered into his first drug treatment experience at a hospital in Connecticut.  “While there I was kind of enlightened to all the different drugs out there, especially heroin,” Mike said.  After leaving, he tried heroin for the first time with a girl that he met during drug rehab, marking his descent to eventual intravenous drug use. After the initial experience with heroin, Mike went into drug treatment again that same year, this time at a drug treatment center in Connecticut.  “After getting out, I was OK for a little while,” Mike said.  “But things got bad in 2008.  I started using Oxycontin again, and I first started shooting heroin toward the end of 2008.  Around June 2009 I went to [a treatment center] in New York.  I was definitely reluctant to go, but I was getting evicted and my parents were threatening to press charges.  My back was against the wall.” After completing detox in New York, Mike was sent by his parents to a drug rehab program in Florida.  He relapsed after a month there and the counselors followed policy by putting him out on the street for seven days.  “I was miserable,” Mike said.  “I got a job through the program working at a grocery store, and started getting high again.” Mike was caught during his relapse at the center’s transitional sober living program and was kicked out, ending up on the street and actually having to fend for himself for the first time ever.  “Back in Connecticut I was able to steal from my parents, but I couldn’t in Florida.  That led to a lot of criminal behavior.  I was down there for two years, stealing to get high and sharing needles.” In June 2011, Mike’s mother came to visit and was frightened by the condition in which her son was living.  “I looked like death,” Mike said.  “She brought me back up north, and I went into detox.”  After detox, Mike entered Turnbridge for the first time, marking another critical moment in his life up to that point.  “I was pretty beat up from my last run.  At this point I definitely knew that I was powerless over my addiction.  I knew that my life was in jeopardy, but as far as being willing to do the work, I wasn’t quite there yet.  I didn’t go to AA meetings, and didn’t believe in recovery.  I was pretty miserable, and just wanted to get high.” Mike’s initial residency at Turnbridge was cut short when he was kicked out after an altercation with another resident.  The next four months were a critical time in Mike’s life.  He started using heavily again, sliding into severe debt with his landlord and stealing his parents’ car.  “The day after Christmas I got high in my dealer’s house, and crashed the car on I-95,” Mike said.  “That was the last huge occurrence that made things click in my head.  I was lucky that no police came and I didn’t overdose. “ Following this incident, Mike went to Hazelden in Minnesota for drug treatment where he successfully completed the program and contacted Turnbridge in the hopes of returning for a second time for extended care and sober living.  Mike officially became a resident again at Turnbridge in New Haven on January 26, 2012, and since then he has improved his condition dramatically. Despite the mistakes and wrong turns along the way, Mike is now on the right path to recovery and is taking the necessary steps to turn his life around.  He is a good example to fellow residents that life can get better, if you put in the hard work and make the right choices.  Mike is currently in Phase III Sober Living of the program, and works as a member of Turnbridge’s support staff at the Phase II facility.  He plans to stay in the New Haven area and continue his education, and he hopes to eventually enter one of the state’s nursing programs. “I’ve never been this good,” Mike said.  “I have my priorities straight this time around, and I realized what I had to do.  I think Turnbridge is a great program.  It was hard to deal with the fact that it’s a whole year, but that amount of time in a structured environment is necessary to get the program and let it click.  I’m glad that I was able to come back to Turnbridge, and I’m grateful that they gave me the support.”


From Mountainside to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living Our Resident Profile highlights a current resident. Here we focus on Mike, who came to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living after completing primary drug treatment at Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, CT. Adam began playing basketball when he was 8 years old. By the time he was 10, he had already started playing for an AAU (Amateur Athletics Union) team. He says basketball meant everything to him. He could …step out onto the court and the rest of the world would melt away. But then when he was 17, he had the misfortune of falling victim to a major ACL injury. When the injury happened, Adam says the only way to describe how he felt was as if he had entered into a period of grieving. He compared the loss of his ability to play basketball to the loss of loved one. There was an absence in his life that could never be filled again, or so he thought. Adam says he tried to fill that absence with opiates. Adam was still in high school when he entered his first drug rehab program. It was in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, but Adam says he wasn’t truly ready. He ran away and went back home. “I felt like I had it in the bag. I wasn’t ready to take suggestions and ask for help and really learn about the process. It’s a grueling process,” Adam says. “It’s not easy.” Only a few months before coming to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living, he attended Seafield Center, a drug treatment center on Long Island, but was discharged for inappropriate behavior. Shortly after getting out, he went to see a friend. Sitting on a table in his friend’s dorm room was an 8-ball of cocaine. Adam says this was one of those moments where life presents a fork in the road. On one hand, he could choose to do the cocaine and continue down the path of substance abuse. Or, he could follow a new path. He reluctantly decided to go to an AA meeting in town but soon realized that it was going to take much more than a few AA meetings if he wanted to obtain long term sobriety. With his new found determination, Adam said he finally had the strength to seriously attempt drug rehab. He enrolled in another drug treatment program, Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Conn. He successfully completed the program and entered Turnbridge shortly thereafter for extended care and sober living, a decision that changed everything. “I’ve never felt better in my life, ever. It’s like a high, but it’s just a completely different high,” Adam says. “Putting in a lot of work in yourself for close to a year, not many people get the chance to do that. I do as much as I can to give back to this program. They’ve given me a life with something to look forward to.” This transformation was by no means immediate. Adam says that after three years of alcoholism and substance abuse, he knew only one way to act. While he was no longer using, his behavior was still that of an alcoholic. But that changed over time. “I came in here and I was goofing off. I didn’t want to be here. I’d do stupid stuff. I’d do anything to not feel like me,” Adam says. “There’s so much good staff support here. The people that do this are not in it for the money. When I got to Phase II, they really worked with me, worked hard with me. I had an unbelievable change there. I did what they asked me to do.”


From Father Martin’s Ashley to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living Our Resident Profile highlights a current resident. Here we focus on Blake, who came to Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living after completing primary drug treatment at Father Martin’s Ashley Treatment Center in Havre de Grace, MD. Blake’s father was born in India into the Hindu Brahmin caste, whose members traditionally dedicate themselves to scholarly and spiritual pursuits.  As a result, Blake is no stranger to meditation.  Before recovery, Blake says he combined psychedelics and meditation into a “very twisted sense of spirituality.”  Today, his relationship with meditation and the metaphysical is significantly matured — he teaches a meditation class once a week to Phase I participants. “Now that I’ve entered recovery I’ve actually gotten to hammer through real spiritual things and start to learn — learn about the self and learn about my connection with the world around me in a healthy way, in a way that’s not centered on me.  Doing that has been my favorite part,” Blake says. “Really getting to see yourself as this little portion of the divine mechanism that is all around us rather than, you know, the orchestrator of everything.  In the Big Book they talk about being an actor and not a director.  And that’s my favorite part of it actually.  Because my whole life I wanted to be the director of everything.  I try to control everything and I just couldn’t accept when something wouldn’t go my way.  I’d have to scheme my way into controlling it and making it happen somehow.  But now I just — the day is what the day is.  The good and the bad both exist and will exist, and there’s not much I can do it about.” Blake began using drugs at young age, but despite his addiction he says he was still able to get by — for a time, at least.  He says this ended up making things worse. “I always had the ability — that’s something that furthered my drug usage,” Blake says, “Well, I got into college, so it’s okay I’m using drugs.  Oh, I got a degree, so it’s okay that I’m using drugs.  Oh, I got job, so it’s okay that I’m using drugs.  But then you get fired from that job and you’re robbing people.  And then you look at yourself and you’re like, ‘Holy crap, I’m a heroin addict.’  This whole time I’ve been trying to pretend I’m this person who just partied a little harder than most — no, I’m a heroin addict.” But then Blake made a change.  He says he was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  He went through a month of drug treatment at Father Martin’s Ashley in Maryland.  Then, following the recommendation of his treatment team, on December 8, 2011, Blake entered the Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living for young men program in Connecticut — a decision that has changed his life for the better.  He says if he went back home after drug rehab, he would have returned to his past habits.  The environment that Turnbridge offered him was stable and supportive. “It kind of reminds me of freshman year at college when I was in the dorms,” Blake says. “It’s just a bunch of dudes laughing and chilling, just obviously without the drugs. Which is cool that you can still have that vibe without everyone getting high all the time. It’s like sober college. That’s an awesome thing.” Blake says this environment has allowed him to make the most of his AA group.  He admits he first started going to meetings out of a sense of obligation, but now they are something he looks forward to. Two months ago, Blake broke up with his girlfriend of four years — an event that he says, had it happened a year ago, would have ended with him putting a needle in his arm.  He gives Turnbridge credit for keeping this from happening. “That was a testament to me that there had been some change with me.  And it was definitely due to them as well as the AA program, of course.  I owe a lot to my sponsor.  He’s been a guiding force.” Today Blake is a barista at a coffee shop on the shoreline in Branford Conn.  He says he’s heard rumblings of a possible promotion, but he’s not sure he’ll have the time to dedicate to the responsibilities that this new job would entail.  Blake is returning to school in New Haven at Southern Connecticut State University to earn a master’s degree in computer science.  Though he has an idea, he says he doesn’t really know where his new life will lead him. “I don’t know where I’m going next, which is drastically different from before.  Because before I knew I was going somewhere to shoot dope, rob some money and shoot dope again.  And that was going to be the rest of my life,” Blake says.  “But now I know I’m going to school.  I know one day I’ll work a job and all that but really I have no idea what I’m going to do.  There are so many different options that have opened up.  My life is not just going to be crime and drugs.  So it’s pretty cool, you know.  And I owe that to Turnbridge and I owe that to the recovery community and the sober young men I call my friends.”

A Conversation With Tim

Tim entered Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living in August of 2009 at the urging of his counselor and parents.  At 21 years old, Tim had everything going for him. “I was the ‘golden child’ in high school’ honor roll, varsity soccer team, the works. And I have a supportive family, too, so it wasn’t like I had a bad childhood.” So what made you turn to drug use? “The friends I hung out with in high school were experimenting: smoking, drinking, etc., so I delved into it a little bit there, but it was really when I got to college. I went to UCONN on a full scholarship, but my freshman experience there was completely out of control.” How so? “I got into hard drugs, cocktails of hard drugs, and consequentially I lost my scholarship, and I dropped out.” Ultimately, Tim completed a 28-day drug treatment program at Cottonwood deTucson in Tucson, AZ. While there, his counsleor strongly recommended he transition directly to a sober living environment upon graduation. After interviewing with several programs, he ultimatley chose Turnbridge. Now, he’s in Phase III Sober Living of the program, where the residents are trusted with responsibilities as well as freedoms. Tim has a fulltime job at LA Fitness in Orange, Conn and is taking two courses at Quinnipiac University. How has Turnbridge best helped you? “Well, the camaraderie between the guys here really helps a lot, because we’re all in the same boat, you know? Plus the support system that Turnbridge offers definitely works. I like the extracurricular activities, going to the gym, yoga, the martial arts, and the music element: the recording studio is great.” What’s the most important part, for you personally? “I guess the fact that is such a safe environment. In the first two phases, there’s less free time, but it gets you, in a way, back to living in the real world, and taking responsibility.” So what’s next? “My objective now is to graduate from school, stay sober, and sponsor some guys.”