Former addict, life coach write book on recovery

by Laura Bednar

Susan Eileen was in and out of sobriety, and the traditional 12-step program wasn’t working for her. After connecting with life and personal empowerment coach Joe Pannitto, she overcame addiction, and her experience became motivation to write a book detailing her journey.

“Nada to Prada” starts with Eileen, a Broadview Heights resident, offering a mini memoir of her addiction journey, followed by what addicts can face during recovery. The final segment is a how-to guide for readers to replicate recovery, wherein she cites Pannitto’s “Breaking the Chain” program.

“I needed a holistic program to get to the root of the issue,” said Eileen. She said she was willing to try something new and all of the research Pannitto, a Sagamore Hills resident, presented was published within the past five years.

According to Pannitto’s website, the “Break the Chains” recovery process uses self-awareness, accountability and focus. Eileen said she found that the origin of her addiction to drugs and alcohol was unresolved trauma, which included an inferiority complex and difficulty being assertive.

“You self-medicate using external [resources] for internal problems,” she said. “After two years [with coaching], the foundation I didn’t get in childhood is now there.”

“You coach the person, not the problem,” said Pannitto. The book includes his insights on the recovery process and comments on the mindset someone must have to get sober.

“You can’t coach a level of commitment,” he added. “Susan hit three rock bottoms before she dug her heels in.”

Pannitto said he and Eileen examined the reasons for her behavior and how she related to herself and others. Both authors said coaching is the next step after getting medical help.

Eileen said sobriety doesn’t mean you won’t have problems, but they will be better problems. Part of the book touches on her being in and out of probate court, which, according to Ohio law, could order involuntary treatment for someone experiencing drug or alcohol abuse. Now, in sobriety, she said her “problem” is deciding what project to work on or how to manage her newfound work and social life.

Eileen said in four years, she went from courting death, risking prison or time in a mental health facility to earning a PhD. She celebrated her four-year anniversary of sobriety on Dec. 9, 2023.

“I try to help people achieve and live the life they deserve to live,” said Pannitto. “Susan had the ability to be great, she just had to find it again.”

The book includes strategies Eileen uses to cope with potential triggers of her trauma or addiction and process her emotions in a healthy way. One of those mechanisms is making quilts, which evolved from a hobby into a side business. She also donates quilts to be auctioned at charity events.

Her motivation behind writing the book was to give people hope and offer a solution to those dealing with addiction.

“The best program is the one that works for you,” said Pannitto. “This is an alternative.”

Eileen said the book’s title “Nada to Prada” is an iteration of the phrase “zero to hero.”

“Prada” is an Indian word meaning low light or shine, which Eileen said aligns with her “new internal glow.’’

“It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf,” she said.

Eileen will host online workshops in January and February to share her story and answer questions from people who are sober-curious. See more information at

The book is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. ∞

Susan Eileen. Photos submitted.

Joe Pannitto.