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2008--the beginning of a brand new year. This is a time to reflect, and a time to begin again. Each new year is like a clean slate.

My wife Judy and I like to spend a day or so creating a list of significant events from the past year by looking through our daytimers and calendar. We make two lists--the bitter and the sweet (or "the good, the bad and the ugly"). Most people will at least stop to reflect on where they are in life.

For those in recovery as well as those who know they should be, this is obviously a good time to set some goals. Even small, easy goals are better than none. This is also an excellent time to encourage someone who may be struggling with a substance abuse problem.

If you don't feel that you can do it yourself, get someone to help. Perhaps you've tried more than a few times without success. It's very rare for an alcohol or drug-dependent person to accept the severity of their problem--especially the first few times they are confronted.

Make a decision to have less drama in 2008. This month I have included an excerpt from my book, which explains more about intervention.

I always like to include something that makes people smile or laugh.
Scroll down and click on the "Just for Fun" link
for one of my all-time favorite little clips.  

As a New Year thank you, please take advantage of the 10% off coupon at the bottom of this newsletter! Through January 31, we have also added FREE PRIORITY SHIPPING so you can receive your package in 2-3 days!
In This Issue
INTERVENTIONS (Believe it or not, you do them all the time!)
Ask Joe! (Includes "Do I have a drinking problem?")
Feedback from Our Readers
There is no better time. . .


Believe it or not,
you do them all the time!

2women in park/intervention

We've all done interventions at various times in our lives, whether we realize it or not. An intervention can be anything from telling a child to be careful on their bike, to asking someone to clean up their desk or office at work. For the addict, intervention can make all the difference.

We see PSAs (Public Service Announcements) on television that tell us, Friends don't let friends drive drunk.  If you've ever suggested to someone that they were too drunk to drive, you know how awkward it can be. One of the rules I try to use for myself is this: If it's the right thing to do, then I want to be sure to do it, and if it's the wrong thing to do, I want to be sure to avoid it.

 This is not always easy to put into practice. Nonetheless, it is important, especially concerning the life of someone who may have a substance-use problem. Most likely, you will make mistakes from time to time, as you can't fully relate to the addict. Family members can expect to go through great pain and long days of frustration, feeling helpless at times. To this day, I don't know all that I put my family through.


         When it comes to intervention, there are more than a few options available. An intervention can sometimes be quick, easy, and free, or it can be much more complicated. Depending on the circumstances, it may be just a brief conversation that has a positive outcome. How long and how much a person has been using will affect the success of an intervention.

         When beginning the process of intervention, a conversation is a good place to start, but it may be perceived as confrontation, something most of us try to avoid. We may ask someone else to have that conversation with the person we're concerned about. But there will be awkward moments no matter which option you choose. To start the process, you may choose to further analyze your family situation. If these first, less-invasive attempts appear to have little or no effect, you then may want to consider seeking professional intervention help.

         Professional intervention doesn't necessarily have to look like what you may have seen on the A&E channel or other similar shows on TV, when a large group of family and friends confront and surprise the addict or alcoholic. There are times when this approach can be very effective, but there are other, lesser-known strategies that can work as well. Often professionals can do an intervention over the phone with the person that needs help. If you are considering an option like this, please do your homework. Get references, compare them, and compare costs. Prices can vary a great deal and so can effectiveness. The goal is to get the person to see the light and begin recovery.

         My intervention was simple: I was given an ultimatum. One of the reasons it worked as well as it did was its timing. When my parents said to me that I either could "get treatment or get out," it was a very low point in my life and my options were running out, as I had no other place to run but to family. I was living in my parents' home at the time. Over the years, I would go from having plenty of money to no money at all. During the no money times, they would reluctantly let me move back in. My memory of this intervention/conversation is still vague to me today. I was so hung over, strung out, and worn out at the time.

A rooster crows only when it sees the light.
Put him in the dark and he'll never crow.
I have seen the light and I'm crowing.

-Muhammad Ali

Should you intervene or not?

        One of the myths I believed for a long time was that my substance use was my problem, and my problem alone. Leave me alone. If I wanted advice, I'd ask for it. But nothing was further from the truth. In the poker game "Texas Hold 'Em," players push their chips forward and say, "I'm all in." Whether we like it or not, addiction affects the entire family. We're "all in" and there is no option to not play. This is a problem that directly impacts everyone in the family. It affects some family members more than others, but no one gets to pass.

         The scenario plays out differently depending on the relationships involved. Whether you are a spouse, mother, brother, uncle, or any other relation, there will be either a direct effect or some form of spillover to other members of the family. These problems are usually discussed among family members, and as a result, others start to share the stress and burdens.

        This happens more with addiction than with many other problems. There are several reasons for this. One is obvious--we care about and love the people closest to us and we sometimes fear that our loved one will destroy him or herself. Another reason is the tremendous amount of shame and guilt that seems to be associated with alcoholism and addiction. Many people look at addiction as a mental health problem, which has its own stigma.

man/woman/intervention in home

The Role of the Family

    Because addiction never goes away, we often see a loved one with this problem relapse back to old behaviors. It is not unusual for this to happen several times before we see longer periods of abstinence and, ultimately, complete abstinence. When family and friends get their hopes up again and again, only to be repeatedly disappointed, it is extremely frustrating for them. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the heartache.

         First, do not try to fix the situation on your own. Often, family members will blame themselves and will try to solve the problem alone. But family members are too close to the problem and sometimes too emotional to see things objectively, so getting some wise counsel will pay real dividends. Help doesn't always have to be professional (meaning that one has to pay for the advice) or expensive. Many people know of others dealing with the same issues who can provide support and resources.


Do not try to fix the situation on your own.


    Al-Anon, (a support group just for family and friends of substance abusers and alcoholics) is a free resource and worth checking out. There are also many private counselors who invoice on a sliding scale. In addition, city and county governments usually have programs that are available at no cost. Addiction is a problem that requires using various means to bring about lasting change. Having these issues sorted out by an objective third party is well worth the time and effort

         Often, family members will wait a long time, thinking that things will work out on their own. There is too much at stake to take this approach.  It has been said that there are three ways to deal with a problem-to do the right thing, the wrong thing, or nothing. The worst choice is to do nothing.


The worst choice is to do nothing.

This article is excerpted from the book
"Why Don't They Just Quit?" Pgs. 49-51.

Ask Joe!

Joe clip #2

My husband's drinking problem has caused so much strife within our family. Why can't he see what's happening? We may lose our house as well.

Alcohol and drug dependency is an insidious problem. It is often so gradual that most do not realize what's happening until it has become a major issue!

Admitting that one is powerless to control using is a very humbling experience. Men, especially hate to admit failure in any area of their life. Sadly, this just gets worse over time and even more difficult to control or to admit defeat.

You should seek help and confront your husband. Prepare in advance, anticipate his objections and denial--and stay firm. Think of ultimatums that you will give him if he will not seek help and stick with them. People do change and painful consequences are often the best teacher. Find some emotional support for yourself as well. Keep hoping and praying for a good outcome. Hope is free.

My spouse came back from treatment but wont go to AA. Is there some other support group he can attend?

Yes. There are other groups. Outpatient groups that are facilitated by an addiction counselor, religious groups such as Celebrate Recovery and one-on-one counsel from a professional are some other options.

I myself, was not excited about attending AA--especially at first. Anything new like this will feel awkward in the beginning. Ask your husband/wife to please give it a try--to commit to four or five meetings. The reality is that most people in AA did not want to go at first.

After a while a camaraderie will develop that will produce huge benefits in the long run. It's extremely rare for a person to make it on their own for very long.

I'm in my 30s and most weeknights I have a couple of glasses of wine around dinnertime. On weekend nights I usually go out with friends and may have three or four drinks. Do you see any problem with this?

The only problem is that I wish I could do the same! What you have described is social drinking. An alcoholic will rarely, if ever, stop at a couple of drinks. One of the classic signs of dependency is a loss of control. I must add though, that if this were to escalate very much from the levels you mentioned above, it could become a problem.

If you have a question for Joe, please email it to:
(click the link at the bottom of this page)

We will respond to your question, and (with your permission)
we may post it in our next newsletter.

Recent Feedback From Our Readers

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Dear Friends,

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

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

"I found that your book Why Don't They Just Quit was an excellent read in terms of gaining a very keen understanding of alcohol and drug addiction.  Having very little knowledge of the why, what, how, when of addiction, I found your book to be extremely forthcoming with personal and educational insight into a very complex, but solvable, problem. 

Although alcohol and drug addiction is weighted heavily with emotional issues, it is, without a doubt, a very serious disease-something that everyone involved needs to address immediately.  After reading your book, I felt a sense of relief knowing that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, but it will take time and practice. Thanks for sharing your personal story, it's was inspirational."

- Steve B.

"I was one of the first to receive Joe's Book Why Don't they Just Quit?, I was truly touched by Joes's struggles through life and how he was able to help his son avoid the very same problems that he experienced in early adulthood.

We all are affected by addictions, whether it be a person at work, a distant family member or even one of our immediate family. Addiction is not something that affects just one person. Joe opens his life for everyone to see. This book will help parents and loved ones to look for warning signs and identify steps a concerned person can take, along with professional advice.

Joe is committed to helping anyone with an addiction, to begin recovery and experience total freedom. I encourage anyone, whether you are a parent, spouse, friend of an addict, or the person with the problem, to take advantage of this information and once and for all, break the chains of addiction.

Thank You Joe, For Having the gut's to get real and in turn save lives."

- Michael W.
Shawnee, Kansas

"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.
Stanely, North Carolina

". . . 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!"
Denver, Colorado

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 changing someone's life in 2008.
I hope you make the most of this new year, and remember to never give up hope!

-Joe Herzanek
Changing Lives Foundation

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

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Pg 74: When to Intervene
"Why Don't They Just Quit?"

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