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The Turn 2 Foundation has pledged $500,000 to the Phoenix House in Tampa, Fla., an outpatient program to help teens and their families struggling to overcome problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse, to create the Derek Jeter Center at Phoenix House. The center will enhance existing programs, such as individual, group and family counseling, as well as provide clients with expanded services, strengthening the effort to help young people working to overcome addiction. Since its dedication in February 2008, enrollment, success rate and client satisfaction have significantly increased.
Success Story: At only 14 years old, Matthew had lived a lot of life in a short period of time. He lived with his mother and four siblings and never had a relationship with his biological father, nor had he ever really had a father figure. His father was "around" in the neighborhood until he was shot and killed during a gas station robbery when Matthew was 12 years old. Matthew's mother had been living with HIV/AIDS since 2006. He worried every day about his mother dying. She took daily trips to the clinic for dialysis and struggled to raise her children while managing her illness.
Matthew first started smoking marijuana when he was 10 years old. He had been hanging around older kids who were smoking marijuana and also drinking alcohol. During this time, Matthew was getting into fights almost three to four times a week. Eventually his fighting at school ended in expulsion. Not going to school only gave Matthew more time to smoke marijuana. Because his mother was ill, it was difficult for her to keep up with Matthew and his whereabouts. That is when Matthew's mother decided it would be best for him to move in with his aunt.
Matthew's aunt brought him to Phoenix House and accompanied him to his first evaluation. She explained that Matthew was a good boy, but he was angry knowing he would be losing his mother soon. When Matthew first started his treatment, he was eager to listen. He was always respectful and seemed genuinely interested in learning. While establishing a treatment plan, Matthew indicated to his counselor that he wanted to stop using marijuana and learn how to control his anger. Once he got to talking about fighting, he realized that the high he got from fighting was just like the one he got from smoking marijuana. He explained that he "got a rush" when he fought.
Through discussions and counseling, Matthew discovered that the sadness he felt about the possibility of losing his mother is what triggered his fighting. Matthew embraced the treatment at Phoenix House and joined the Recovery Coaching program. There he engaged in fun extracurricular activities like going to the movies and playing sports with supportive peers and positive male role models.
As Matthew progressed through treatment, his self-esteem grew. He was able to identify feelings other than anger, and the fights eventually ceased. He learned ways to avoid and deal with peer situations when being pressured to use drugs. The more time that Matthew was free from drugs, alcohol and fighting, the harder it was to go back to old behaviors.
After several months of treatment, it was time to graduate from the program. Matthew had come such a long way. He was able to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and he learned new ways to deal with his emotions. Matthew also found fun in drug-free activities. He built up his self-esteem and created a trusting relationship with his aunt.
When Matthew completed his last counseling session, he expressed gratitude. He said to his counselor, "I can't believe I did it!" His counselor gave him a certificate of completion, which he asked if he could have two copies. When asked why he wanted to two copies he said, "I want to give one to my mom and one to my aunty."