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- Author, Grief Coach, Family Advocate

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Following the death of her son, Joel, in November 2017, Pattie stepped down from leading a consultancy in behavioral, organizational, and personal change. As she dove into learning more about the disease of addiction, she found new purpose in advocating for meaningful change in the way we address Substance Use Disorder and the accompanying stigma, trauma and collateral damage. She now focuses her speaking engagements, coaching, writing and interviews on helping families navigate the frightening journey through addiction, finding hope for recovery, and comforting those who have lost loved ones to this disease.

As a Peer Parent Coach with the Partnership to End Addiction, Pattie works one-on-one with parents using the CRAFT model, co-facilitates their online grief support community, and is also certified in the Invitation to Change Model from CMC:Foundation for Change. She is a California State Organizer with the Recovery Advocacy Project and a National Ambassador for the Shatterproof organization. She serves on the RCO/RCC Advocacy Committee and was named the 2022 Architect of Recovery by CCAPP (CA Consortium of Addiction Professionals.) Her book, Secrets, Scars and Heart Shaped Jars, shares her family’s journey through addiction, loss and recovery. As a Kessler Certified Grief Educator, Pattie focuses her coaching practice on assisting those who have lost a loved one to Substance Use Disorder.


To book a session with Pattie, you can visit her website.


Life interruptions come in many forms; illness, divorce, job loss, death. After the upheaval of an unexpected divorce in 1995 I thought, “well, thank goodness that’s over.” I can learn the lesson, collect the badge, dust myself off and move on. Surely the worst was behind me, with clear sailing and happiness ahead.

Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.

I was still to experience an unexpected job loss, multiple relocations, and an immersion into the world of addiction with encounters I had no way of preparing for. From arrests, overdoses, homelessness, and the death of my son, the fight against hopelessness was a daily battle. When my daughter spiraled out of control with her own substance use, it seemed all was lost.

Going to war against the disease that threatened to devour my family taught me the true meaning of resilience, unconditional love, and finding new meaning in the midst of devastating loss.

  • PURCHASING DETAILS: Secrets, Scars and Heart Shaped Jars is available on Amazon and Audible
The loss of a marrige. The Disease of addiction. The death of a son. Finding a way to continue living when you just want to die.”
– Pattie Vargas

(For Interviews & Articles)

  • Rising Strong: How to Avoid Isolation After the Loss of a Loved One
  • Finding Hope Amidst Heartbreak: Tips & Advice for Finding Proper Support After Loss
  • Fighting the Stigma & Shame of Opioid Overdose
  • How Parents Can Talk to Their Kids About Alcohol & Drug Abuse (& Be Effective)
  • Grief is Not One-Size-Fits-All: Tips on Finding Proper Support After Loss
  • Healing Without Stigma or Shame: Creating a Safe Place for Those Who Lost a Loved One to Addiction
  • Bridges of Strength: Finding Community When Coping with Grief
  • Navigating the “Woulda, Coulda, Shouldas”: Tips on Coping with Guilt & Shame After Loss
  • Unveiling Healing: How to Rebuild & Start Healing After Loss

  1. How is losing a loved one to addiction different from losing them to natural causes?
  2. What kind of shame and stigma against addiction have you experienced?
  3. Can you share some advice to parents dealing with the loss of a child?
  4. Why is finding support after loss so important?
  5. How do you fight the stigma and shame of overdose?
  6. In your practice, what are some ways you provide a safe space for navigating guilt and shame?


“Pattie Vargas has a message for every woman in America: never give up. Through unimaginable pain, Pattie has found a way out—and a path forward to help others. It’s not just a journey in her shoes, but a roadmap to keep living.”

– Ryan Hampton Addiction Recovery Advocate Bestselling Author of American Fix & Unsettled


“This strength-based memoir is rich in self-reflection, compassion, advocacy, and healing. Beautifully written from the heart of a parent, is a must-read for anyone seeking understanding, perspective, and tools when substance use disorder or other devastating experiences hit home.”

– Ann Benson, MSW


“Beautifully written, heartfully told, this story is one of loss and love, hope and resilience. I love the authenticity with which Pattie shares her story, including even the parts she isn’t proud of (which we all have!). As a woman who has been divorced and had to rebuild my life, I felt both seen and inspired by Pattie’s words. And as an ally of recovery, I felt a renewed fire in my heart to make sure that not one more family suffers these losses. Thank you for writing and sharing this brave work, Pattie!”

– Rosi Greenberg, Artist, Author, Illustrator


“Pattie is a voice for the voiceless and her voice has been instrumental in changing the conversation. When we change the conversation, we begin to change hearts and minds and help dismantle the negative stereotypes associated with Substance Use Disorder, addiction and recovery.”

– Denise Mariano Director, Family Support and Advocacy Partnership to End Addiction



Pattie Vargas is available for interviews, articles and can provide commentary on any related subject.



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