At 21 years old, with 67 empty bottles in her room, trembling hands, and an inability to go two hours without alcohol, Avia knew she needed help.
Avia Rosen was born and raised in Calabasas, California to a close knit, and wonderful family. When asked why she started drinking, she said, “I was always a very nervous, anxious and tense person. I wasn’t even aware that I was. It was just in my chemistry and make-up.” Her first drink was at 18 years-old and once that first sip had its effect on her, she was hooked. She suddenly saw that there was another way to feel. Quickly, no matter how hard she tried, she could not put the bottle down. Drinking two large bottles of vodka a day, her habit became maintenance, merely a means to not get sick. Avia was lost beyond comprehension and knew she needed something in her life to change. She tried to stop on her own, to no avail.
Enter Beit T’Shuvah. Avia was introduced to Beit T’Shuvah through her parents who coincidentally had been donating for many years prior. Immediately upon walking through the doors, like many of us, felt a warmth that melted her in the arms of her admissions coordinator. The second face she saw was her future husband, Doug Rosen’s, face. She remembers thinking, “Oh there are cute boys here. I’ll be fine!” Within no time at all, Beit T’Shuvah became her home and its community became her extended family.
Romance in early recovery can always be tricky. Avia and Doug Rosen are the prime example of how it can work out beautifully. Not since Harriet and Rabbi Mark, has there been a more successful love story within these halls than Avia and Doug. After 14 years of marriage and 18 years together, they have three beautiful children.
Although sober, Avia’s road was not a smooth one. At 29 years-old, with eight years of sobriety, a loving husband, and two little boys, Avia was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I sat in nerves for three days waiting for the results, imagining, of course, the worst…and it was.” she explained. After multiple tests, the doctors discovered she had the BRCA 1 gene. That put her at an 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 45% chance of ovarian cancer. With tears in her eyes, she said,“This is where addiction and cancer intersected for me. It was a time where I felt my sobriety was really tested. I had such a strong desire to not feel what I was feeling. I was in the fetal position, in such fear because I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.” Thankfully, the tools she had learned at Beit T’Shuvah kept her from that drink. “I had learned, at my time at Beit T’Shuvah and in recovery, to play the tape forward. I knew if I had that drink, sure I would have felt better for a couple of hours, but that next morning I was going to wake up—I would still have the cancer and I would have lost my recovery.” After six rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstruction, and 33 rounds of radiation, she was on the other side of that terrible diagnosis. Nine years later, Avia is mentally and physically stronger than ever.
Avia has worked in the Development Department of Beit T’Shuvah for a decade and has recently been named Director of Development. No one on planet Earth is more qualified for this position. Avia has worked unfathomably hard throwing fundraising events such as the yearly Gala, Circle of Majesty, and many more amazing events that raise millions of dollars. All of these events and every dollar she has raised have helped to provide struggling addicts a place to call home, the home that saved her 18 years ago.
When it comes to dedicated alumni and staff members, look no further than Avia Rosen. She is truly the best of us. “Beit T’Shuvah is filled with stories like mine. Just to think, that on any given day, 100 recovering addicts are living at 8831 Venice Blvd, each with a unique and beautiful story of their struggle and road to redemption. As Director of Development, it is my wish to share as many stories with everyone as I can, to spread the message, and to demonstrate how impactful everyone’s support is. I received the help I needed because private donors and grantors made it possible for Beit T’Shuvah to be in existence when I needed it. It is now my great privilege and honor to work everyday to ensure it is here for those who will need it in the future.”