About Asking Never Hurts

A series of columns addressing the challenges consumers face in California’s health care landscape.

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Pattie Vargas saw with frightening clarity that her son Joel, 25 at the time, had a life-threatening drug problem. He came home one day in 2007 “high as a kite,” went to bed and slept four days straight, Vargas, now a 65-year-old resident of Vacaville, California, recalls.

As Joel lay listless, a terrified Vargas realized her son needed help, but she didn’t quite know where to start. She searched online and dialed the number of a treatment center she found.

The person who answered said reassuring things, walked

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