Laura Vargas Laura

Laura Vargas is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a passion for and expertise in grief support for traumatic deaths, with a focus on deaths due to substance use. Laura’s expertise lies in program development for supportive services, as well as direct clinical services with individuals, families, and groups. As a Latina immigrant, Laura strives towards equity and inclusion in all her work. Laura is the Director of Outreach Programs for Peer Support Community Partners’ SADOD project, where she is working on establishing direct outreach programs throughout Massachusetts to reach and connect those who have recently had a loved one die from substance use to supportive services. Prior to this, Laura started and led Philly HEALs, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health-Division of Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction (SUPHR)’s Bereavement Care Program for deaths due to substance use. Under Laura’s leadership, the program grew from one clinician to five masters-level clinicians offering an internship program. During the four years that Laura led Philly HEALs, over 4,500 bereaved survivors of loss due to substance use were served through its multitude of services, which included individual and family grief counseling, peer support groups, psychoeducational workshops, community engagement events, and more. The program became known on a national scale as it was the only program in the nation offering free, comprehensive, and highly accessible bereavement support for drug-related deaths. Using the lessons learned and success of the program, Laura provides consultation to various organizations nationwide. Laura has connected with thousands of grieving individuals at every end of the spectrum (from those who were caught completely by surprise by their loved one’s fatal overdose, to those who felt they had been preparing for such a tragedy for many years). Laura has had the immense privilege of building relationships with her clients and witnessing the relief that they feel when they realize that they are not alone in their experiences. That is what drives her to continue advocating and spreading awareness about the importance of decreasing stigma, sharing stories, and supporting one another. Laura has presented at various national conferences, including ADEC and the CDC’s Overdose Data to Action. She has been a featured speaker on various platforms, such as Corazones en Duelo, Journeys through Grief, the Open to Hope podcast, and more. Laura is in the process of writing a chapter in Dr. Jill Harrington’s Superhero Grief, Part Two. Laura received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. She received her Bachelors degree in Psychology and International Studies, with a minor in Social Work, from the University of Michigan. It is Laura’s goal to ensure that comprehensive and accessible bereavement support for those impacted by the overdose crisis is widely available.


Drug Deaths Leave Epidemic of Grief

Drug Deaths Leave Epidemic of Grief Last month, the CDC released a statistic that should horrify the nation—provisional data indicates 2022 surpassed 2021’s record-breaking number of drug-related deaths: over 109,000 […]

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