Q&A with Founder of A New PATH, Gretchen Burns Bergman

Gretchen Burns Bergman is Executive Director and Co-Founder of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing), a non-profit organization that works to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies.  She served as State Chairperson for Proposition 36 in 2000, which mandates treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders in California, and she was one of the three signers of Prop 64 in 2016 to regulate and legalize marijuana. She is leading the international Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign that was started in 2009. She is Owner/Director of Gretchen Productions, a Fashion Show Production Company, started in 1979. Her articles on treatment vs. incarceration have been published nationwide, and she has spoken before countless audiences on the topic of therapeutic justice for individuals with substance use disorders and harm reduction strategies. She has two grown sons who are in long-term recovery from heroin addiction.

“As a parent, I know first-hand how pointless and dangerous it is to throw a drug-sick individual in prison, where he is treated like human storage, rather than giving him the services to recover, make amends and heal wounds inflicted while living in the nightmare of addiction, and be able to give back to society.”


Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, disease, a choice or a wicked twist of fate?
A. It is a substance use disorder

Q. Do you log on to ZOOM 12-step meetings? How often? Do you share?
A. No, but I am on countless zoom advocacy meetings

Q. Where did you grow up?
A. Escondido, California

Q. From what school or teacher did you learn the most?
A. I was a dance major, drama minor in college. I probably learned the most, however when I did a semester traveling with University of 7 Seas.

Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to?

Q. Are you more inclined to believe in UFO’s or life after death, or both?
A. Some form of life after death – the spirit continues

Q. Do you believe in God or a Higher Power?
A. I believe in a higher power

Q. What is your FAVORITE weekly news bulletin? A. Huff Post

Q. Do you have any children?
A. I have 2 sons in long-term recovery

Q. Have you started any new projects because of the quarantine?
A. Yes, most of our campaigns, awareness events and seminars have pivoted to online formats.

Q. If you ever retire would you prefer to live by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop or penthouse?
A. I love the ocean

Q. What is your favorite hotel or resort? A. Any beach resort – Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico

Q. What is your biggest or littlest pet peeve?
A. Dishonest politicians

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on you throughout your life?
A. My parents

Q. 16. What books are you reading now?
A. Obama’s new book, A Promised Land and looking forward to reading Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. 

Q. What is your FAVORITE Radio show, news show, podcast?

Q. Are you bingeing on any TV series? If so which ones.?
A. Yes, I loved Schitt’s Creek

Q. What is your FAVORITE Broadway musical/play?
A. Les Miserables

Q. What is your FAVORITE City?
A. San Diego

Q. What is the best piece of advice YOU’VE given?
A. We are all human and we all make mistakes. It is how we deal with these mistakes that help us to learn and grow. 

Q. What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
A. Starting a nonprofit organization without previous experience

Q. What is the proudest moment in your life?
A. When my sons speak about their recovery