Turnbridge Alumni, Whitaker B., grew up in North Carolina surrounded by a supportive family who instilled strong values in him from a young age. Whitaker recounts his childhood as being relatively idyllic, but when he got to high school there was a distinct shift in his thinking and worldview. He began going to great lengths to fit in with his peers. “I saw the popular kids with the girls and wanted to be like them,” he said. “I knew the way in was to start smoking and drinking.” And thus his substance use history began. While maneuvering his way into this peer group, Whitaker became involved in a relationship with a girl. When the relationship ended, his substance use began to spiral out of control. “I replaced the obsession with the relationship with an obsession for drugs and alcohol.” During his senior year in high school, Whitaker began to skip classes as a result of his preoccupation with using drugs and alcohol. “I realized I had a serious problem so I went to local support groups a few times,” said Whitaker. “But, I didn’t put in any effort and went right back to using.” Whitaker’s escalating problem led him to do things that he would have never otherwise done. He began stealing from people and forging checks from his parents’ bank accounts. Though he recalls feelings terrible remorse for his actions, the cravings for drugs and alcohol won out. “I continued to use drugs to suppress how I felt about myself,” said Whitaker. When Whitaker’s parents learned what was happening they decided to send him to residential drug treatment. Following a two-month stay in a primary treatment center, Whitaker made his way to Turnbridge for continuing care. During his stay at Turnbridge, Whitaker suffered a brief lapse, which he now believes to be “the greatest thing to ever happen to me.” Whitaker learned a lot about himself through this experience. “I wasn’t taking my sobriety serious enough and it made me realize how powerful my disease was,” said Whitaker. Whitaker dove back into recovery head-first. “I was passionate about getting better and knew what I had to do,” Whitaker said. “I naturally started reaching out for help when I felt like getting high rather than waiting for the feelings to spiral out of control.” Whitaker has recently graduated from Turnbridge’s addiction treatment program. “The length of time I spent at Turnbridge was critical. I needed this time to grow and really learn the tools needed for lasting recovery.” “I love this place so much and want to give back to those who have been through the same struggles,” said Whitaker. “This place honestly saved my life and I never thought I’d be where I am today.” Today, Whitaker lives in a local sober home and works at Turnbridge as a Support Staff member. In addition to his employment at Turnbridge, Whitaker’s is excelling as a student, maintaining a 4.0 GPA.