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Thanks for taking a moment to read our December newsletter.

We have decided to address a couple topics that have been covered in the news lately, along with some peactical and quick-to-read tips for coping with stress during the holidays.

To tell you the truth, I opened up an email newsletter that just came, which featured the topic of Holiday Stress. This particular newsletter contained over 15 articles on managing the stress of the holidays! Do you know what my reaction to that was? You got it. I just closed up that email and voila! One less "project"!

Our December newsletter is short 'n sweet!

As a Holiday Thank You, please take advantage of the 10% off coupon at the bottom of this newsletter! This month, we have also added FREE PRIORITY SHIPPING so you can receive your package in 2-3 days!
In This Issue
What should we do with STRESS?
Ask Joe! (Includes, Miracle cures. Do they work?)
Words of Hope from Our Readers
Give the Greatest Gift . . .

What should we do with STRESS?

Stressed woman
Stress unfortunately accompanies the Holiday Season (I recently heard the holiday season referred to as "Stressmas").

Families that are dealing with recovery-related issues, either directly or indirectly, may feel this even more. So what can we do? What's the solution to too much stress? What is stress anyway?

Some stress is normal and can actually be good for us. Stress creates a sense of urgency. When the low fuel light comes on in my car, I know I had better head for a gas station. If I don't, my situation is going to become a bigger problem. This is an easy fix. I have control over this problem and I can fix it.

If I have an active alcoholic or drug addict in my life, it's a different story. I need to remember what a friend of mine, Larry Weckbaugh, tells family members at the CeDAR treatment center in Denver. He calls this "The Three C's" concerning substance abuse.

You didn't cause it.
You can't control it.
You can't cure it.

Our loved ones and others we may be concerned about need to "see the light or feel the heat" ("Heat" seems to to win out over "light" most often. I know it did in my case).

If there is any way that we can help this process to move along more quickly, we should. But, at the same time, we need to remember "The Three C's." One of the best ways to deal with stress, or pressure is to "vent". Find someone to talk to, go for a walk, pray, change your self-talk, use positive affirmations, or attend an Alanon meeting. Change the things you can. Don't be, or feel ashamed to ask for professional help as well.

This is also an excellent time to talk about changes, goals and New Year resolutions, both for you and the person you care about. There is a "time and a season for every activity under Heaven". If the opportunity presents itself to have that difficult discussion, then "go for it". People can and do change!

Occasionally, our family will volunteer to serve food for the homeless at a local shelter. This helps us to keep things in perspective. I've found that doing things like this helps me to get outside of my own problems. It causes me to change my focus and also realize, things could be much different. But for the grace of God, it could be me looking for a free meal.

These kinds of opportunities abound this time of year. Take advantage of the chance to help someone else and you will find that in the process, you actually end up the winner!

  Ask Joe!
Joe clip #2

What do you think about serving non-alcoholic wine and beer to my guests who are in recovery?

Is this a good idea or not?

This is a tough question. I know a few people in recovery who drink these types of beverages. Most do not and here's why.

Even though these beverages are alcohol-free (be careful, some are not totally alcohol-free), they still smell and taste like the real thing. The smell and taste can trigger the memories of how it used to make me feel. This is not a good thing.

Personally, I would suggest erring on the side of caution. Keep a good selection of other beverages to offer a person in recovery.

How do I explain my spouse's substance abuse problem to our children?

Much depends on your children's ages and level of maturity. As best you can, try to explain it in terms of a compulsion or illness. Describe it as something that is difficult to control or quit. Be optimistic in how you talk about the future and that things will change.

This is another area where being part of a good Alanon group could be important. Many mothers and fathers have had to deal with this question. Listen to what others have to say and learn what has worked best for others and what hasn't. Find someone else who has been through this (a combat veteran, so to speak).

Lately, I've seen stories on TV and have read about medications that are supposed to cure or end a person's addiction. Do they really work?

Great question. I've seen some of these shows myself. 60 Minutes recently aired one. Do they help? Can they cure addiction? Some of these drugs can be helpful with the initial craving people experience in the early stages of recovery.

Can they cure or end addiction? No. To stop using alcohol or drugs is only the beginning. Recovery is a process that takes time and effort. People who begin the journey of recovery, like I once did, will usually (among other things) have many amends to make. Quitting and recovering are two completely different processes. To begin to recover and admit defeat is a humbling event.

Recovery takes time but is obviously well worth the time and effort, especially when you consider the alternative.

If you have a question for Joe, please email it to:

We will respond to your question, and (with your permission)
we may post it in our next newsletter.
Words of Hope from Our Readers
Our Readers

Dear Friends,

 Changing Lives has had the pleasure of hearing from some of you . . . very special people.

With their permission, we are honored to share some of their heartfelt comments and experiences, with the hope that you too, will know that you are not alone, and to "never give up hope."

Note: Because of the tremendous popularity of the Austin Hesse Memorial Site, we have decided to leave the link on our December newsletter. Please take time to click on this very special memorial site  (below). I believe it will touch your heart as it did ours.

"I wish I would've known about your organization years ago. My 22 year old son battled drug addiction for years. In and out of rehabs. His drug of choice became crystal meth. Austin couldn't find the way to break free from meth. He took his life last August. Austin was so tired of the grips meth had on him. He couldn't see any way out. Please visit his memorial website and I would love to hear from you. I miss my son so much."  www.austin-hesse.last-memories.com
-Jill S.

". . . I started reading the book and couldn't put it down. It is very easy to read. I have a brother that is an addict and it helped me see the other side of things. I plan on sharing this book with him.

Joe, thanks for sharing your life story with the world. Keep up the good work. God Bless you for reaching out to others!"
-LeAnn K.

"I found your book very informative as well as enlightening. As I said before, I would have loved to have read it a while back when my sons, Eric and Ryan were immersed in the drug world. I'm sure your words could have provided  me with the strength and reassurance I desperately needed to help support  them lovingly instead of aide in prolonging their use.  Live and learn the hard way I guess?

"Why Don't They Just Quit" is helping me now to understand their recovery process and heal myself from guilt, blame and all that's involved when your family is caught in the tangled web of addiction. I've sent Eric, my oldest son a copy and am planning on giving Ryan a copy when I see him in the near future.

Thank you for writing this book."
-Janis P.

". . . I read your book twice. I thought I knew quite a bit about alcohol addiction but in reality, I probably only knew 20% before reading your book.

I dated a lady for 6 months and had to end it with her on September 17th after many conversations (about her excessive drinking) ended up falling on deaf ears. This was extremely excruciating as we had discussed living together and planning to have a life together. She decided that "her best friend" was more important than me and our relationship. This hurt quite a bit, but she made a decision that getting "high" was a very "high" priority for her.

I commend you for your book and your tenacity in being in recovery for such a prolonged period. Keep it up!"

I would like to personally thank you for partnering with us in the battle to free those we care about from the bonds of addiction. I believe that your family and relationships can be fully restored and that you can play an important role in breaking the cycle.
I hope you enjoy the Holidays and remember . . . Never give up hope!

-Joe Herzanek
Changing Lives Foundation

Changing Lives Foundation is committed to bringing you practical information that you can use right now, to help someone you care about break the bonds of addiction.

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From time to time,
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and letters
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whose lives
we have touched.

It is because of people like you, that we are passionate about what we do. We love reading your stories of encouragement and we know that sharing one's story not only brings healing and hope to others, but to the person who has been through it personally.

That is what this community is about... providing hope.

If you have a story to share, we would love to hear it. Please email us at:
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-Michael Connelly

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