Her smile is contagious, her attitude inspires. “I’m going to live every minute I have left, happy and SOBER. It might be a week, it might a month, it might be ten years. I don’t know,” says Teresa Biel.
After 35 years of excessive drinking, Teresa is living with hepatic encephalopathy, liver failure, and pancreatitis. She survived cancer and chemo. AND, she has rebuilt her life and takes nothing for granted. She is “energetic, friendly, funny, gentle, excited, happy and SOBER.” She fills her days with sober friends, family, and cats. She loves them, and they love her back, “for me, who I am today.”
Taking care of her physical and mental health comes first. She says it’s “so nice to be able to do things – pay rent, pay off debts and my credit rating is rising, I have a car.” This was not her life before OPCS.
Teresa started drinking as a teen. She left Tucson at 18 and spent 25 years in Las Vegas working in casinos as a bartender and waitress. She married twice, has two step children that she considers her own. But the bonds were destroyed by her drinking. She abandoned the family for an abusive, “raging alcoholic” second husband. She became homeless to escape him and was homeless for several years. She returned to Tucson and was in and out of crisis rescue centers and treatment programs for five years.
In December 2016, she found housing at OPCS and “accountability with freedom.” She could go out and experience the world as a sober person, creating a new life. The evening meetings were “awesome.” They helped with life skills, boundaries, and essential tools to continue living sober. The OPCS Home Fund supported her housing until she was approved for disability income.
In July of 2017, she moved to her own apartment through an OPCS permanent supportive housing program. She continues to work with her case manager and OPCS therapist, and makes her weekly meetings. She is now eligible for Section 8 housing, a big step to independence.
And in March, she reconnected with her daughter. She set out across the country to Minnesota to connect with her son and three grandchildren. She marveled at the sights and sounds around her as she traveled, and loved stopping at all the corny tourist spots for pictures along the way. “Life is good and I am SOBER,” she exclaims. “Thank you OPCS and those who supported me.”