Pennie Alvarez, Substance Use/AOD Counselor

Substance Use/AOD Counselor


Education and Background

University of Kansas – Department of Applied Behavior Analysis 

  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in Early Childhood Education and Human Development

Drake University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (B.A.)

Glendale College

  • Certificate in Alcohol & Drug Studies

Work Experience & Specialization

  • Adult, Young Adult, and Adolescent Addiction and Substance Abuse
  • Codependency and Adult Children of Alcoholics & Family Dysfunction
  • Individual and Group Support and Counseling 
  • Special-Needs Adolescents and Children

Pennie brings decades of practical, personal experience in every facet of substance use and co-occurring mental health issues from multiple perspectives: as a successful sober participant herself with nearly 30 years of sobriety. As a parent of a young adult who has learned to manage their unstable emotions. As a youth, which led her to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. With the aid of support and treatment, she learned to help others with similar struggles. This led her to become an advocate for the recovery community, a faith-based peer group leader, and a certified addiction counselor with a passion to counter the stigma too often associated with recovery. She also has over a decade of clinical experience with adults, young adults, and adolescents with significant substance use and co-occurring mental health issues in a variety of settings. 

What makes Pennie unique is her ability to connect and empathize with clients from all walks of life and from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Pennie has ‘seen it all’, and she tailors her approach to what will work best for each client she comes into contact with. A passionate client advocate, her blend of salt-of-the-earth humor and rigorous honesty have impacted countless others in the recovery communities she is well-known in. Her clinical experiences include work with Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and The Teen Project and Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles. Pennie also integrates exercise and meditation therapeutics, along with hiking, biking, power stretching, yoga, and meditation. She also serves weekly in her faith-based community peer-support recovery program.



◦ Replace addictive patterns and behaviors with healthy social activities

◦ Develop trusting accountability relationships with the aim of personal autonomy

◦ Develop coping skills through mood regulation

◦ Increase healthy interdependence in family systems

◦ Promote growth and development through service and education.


Clinical Orientation

◦ Addiction Education & Early Recovery Skills: 

◦ Addressing sobriety barriers and coping with triggers

◦ Identifying risk factors and formulating a daily sobriety plan

◦ Adopting alternative activities and serving in community

◦ Relapse-Prevention Skills: 

◦ Finding emotional support and peer accountability

◦ Building healthy habits and reducing stress

◦ Integrating self-care journaling and daily inventory

◦ Formulating growth goals and timelines to independence

◦ Discovering joy in healthy activities and in serving others

◦ Building spiritual strength through emotional awareness and mindfulness   

◦ Long-term Recovery Skills: 

◦ Setting and pursuing educational and vocational goals

◦ Learning social skills and healthy relationship boundaries

◦ Becoming a life-long learner and pursuing interests

◦ Discovering internal motivation and passion

◦ Acquiring executive functioning skills