I met Theresa Antionette Colaianni Settembrino (Teree) while she was in her 18th year of Methadone addiction, all 80 pounds of her, and months from death.
To see her today healthy, substance free, vegan, vibrant, bubbling over, so full of life, happy, content - you would never believe her story.
But I saw her then, witnessed her transformation, and I believe it. Teree is now married, the chef at Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast, a successful artist operating "CRUSHED & NOW POLISHED," a board member at her church and co-leader of a local 12-Step program with her husband.
Teree grew up in the Boston area with a whacky, loving, traditional Italian, but broken family. Her parents divorced when she was young. Life was chaotic. Her mother was an artist in whose home music continually played, food was cooking and laughter was flowing.
Teree's mom always kissed and hugged the kids before she left for work. Her father's family were musicians who operated a skating rink, converted at night to a music and dance hall.
She remembers being there with her twin sister, watching their grandfather play slide trombone with bands like Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. Teree loved the atmosphere! Growing up she "wanted to live in a kind and colorful world and do art."
At 14, due to medical issues, chronic physical pain and emotional turmoil, Teree began a 17-year journey of pain medication and illegal drugs, eventually discovering Methadone. In 18 years her dosage went from 5mg to 285mg. per day! She was a functional drug addict. No one knew except her mom.
"It's easy to hide" Teree said. "With addiction you become such a liar and an actress and an actor." She worked, did her art, smiled and lived sad and depressed on the inside.
She started attending church and heard about Celebrate Recovery (CR). Having a bad experience at a previous 12-step program, Teree was nervous about going. Later, she was so glad she did. Over time the CR leader, Dena, became her best friend and "sister" and Teree found healing and wholeness.
The doctors from the Methadone clinic were concerned when Teree told them she wanted to quit.
They were worried about the physical/mental/emotional dangers associated with leaving a substance addiction of so many years. Teree felt like she was dying and in desperation decided to go cold-turkey at home. Her (not-yet) husband, Tommy, took two weeks off work to watch over her while her CR leader, Dena, a nurse, daily came by to monitor her condition.
"She was so sweet. She brought me Gatorade and meals for Tommy. She helped me get through it." They all prayed...a lot! She came out of those two weeks clean and sober for the first time in 35 years!
Teree's passions now include doting on her husband, cooking for all of her friends, serving at her church and leading CR. Teree loves CR because it works.
"It's not just for addicts. It's for co-dependency, fear, grief, anger, depression. It's for anyone with hurts, habits and hang-ups; that's pretty much everyone." According to Teree "the most important part of this is having a program, a place to go, people who will hold you accountable, but with NO judgment."
For more information on Celebrate Recovery please call Teree at 928-274-7688 or go to www.vocnaz.org.
Jim Cunningham, Jr. is a pastor, husband, father, lover of people, friend, neighbor, counselor, teacher, book collector and jack-of-all-trades. Meet him here each month to become acquainted with yet another Village resident.