Success Stories

Clinic gives man the tools to change

April 23 was a big day for Marcus Bowens and he deserved to celebrate. The day marked one year of being sober, a year since he last entered a rehabilitation facility. It was a year of hard work, asking questions, facing the past, and battling inner demons.

Marcus lived in a world where addiction was considered “normal” and his only extended periods of sobriety were spent in rehab. “When 10 people are all doing the same thing, it’s hard to say we are all wrong,” he said. “And I kinda grew up that way.” For Marcus and others accustomed to an environment like that, it’s a battle to simply admit change is needed.

But something about the bridges he burned before entering a Stonington rehabilitation facility on April 23, 2023, made him want that change. After leaving the facility, the 54-year-old Hartford man got serious about recovery and sought help in a familiar place — our Behavioral Clinic at the Institute for the Hispanic Family on Wadsworth Street in Hartford, where he had visited off and on for several years when legal problems resulted in court-mandated visits.

From left, Rebecca Gaston; Sandra Lerzundy-Price, Director of Clinical Services at IHF; Marcus Bowens; Harold Grimes; and Lisa Jainchill during a celebration on April 24 to recognize Marcus for his year of hard work and success.

During those past visits, he met with Lisa Jainchill and had grown comfortable opening up with her. He met with her again last year in one-on-one sessions and the decision to increase the support was made, which led him to Peer Support Specialist Harold Grimes and a substance use group facilitated by clinician Rebecca Gaston.

It was a scheduling conflict that brought Marcus and Harold together, but as fate would have it, they clicked, in large part because Peer Support Specialists have their own struggles that allow them to empathize with clients. “We’ve got a lot in common,” Marcus said. “The things Harold goes through, I go through, too. I don’t have to tell him how I’m feeling. He kinda knows. … That’s how we vibed.”

They talked in sessions about relapse and incidents that can trigger the overwhelming cravings to drink again. Harold encouraged Marcus to explore the reasons why he could relapse and they “peeled back the onion” to discover that he had valid mental health concerns that had never been properly addressed. “We addressed each of his issues one by one,” Harold said. “And within a few months, he was having fewer cravings (to drink) and by dealing with his mental health issues, his quality of life had greatly improved.”

Marcus is at the point in his recovery that he wants to help others struggling with addiction and he volunteers at Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) several times a week. He also recommended friends participate in the same programs that helped him.

“He’s changed so much,” Lisa said. “The old Marcus: That was drinking and manipulating and a lot of that. There’s a totally new Marcus now. … He wanted to change this time as opposed to all of the other times when he’d say he wanted to change but didn’t.”

Marcus has a tattoo on his wrist that represents the day he started his sobriety.

Marcus knows it’s a battle everyday and there are temptations all around that could easily lure him back, but the clinic staff have given him the tools to succeed and avoid the triggers. He also has a tangible, permanent reminder of how far he has come in the form of a tattoo on his wrist that reads “4-23-23,” the day his sobriety and new life began. 

“I am grateful for everyone who helped me through the year,” Marcus said. “And helped me realize I do not need alcohol to be the person I am.”

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