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Relapse: What to do.

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Relapse: What to do.

What to do if your loved one relapses?

What to do if your loved one relapses?
~By Joe Herzanek

Is Relapse Part of Recovery?
Addiction has been called a chronic relapsing disease. Relapse is when the person in recovery chooses to try some controlled using again after attempting to remain abstinent. We know that addicts/alcoholics can’t control substance use. If they could, they wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. Relapse is one more failed attempt at trying to control how much they are able to use.

Using a substance occasionally and in moderation isn’t a problem for social drinkers. But once someone crosses over to habitual and uncontrolled use, there is no going back. Attempts to regain control—to use alcohol or drugs socially and occasionally—are common, and these attempts lead to relapses. Statistics show that approximately 90 percent of those who complete treatment will have a relapse—sometimes referred to as a slip.

Five months after leaving treatment in April, I tried just one more time to see if I could control my using. I went out with an old friend and drank.

I don’t remember if I called Gary or he called me. Gary and I used to take drugs together. He was a good friend. We’d known each other since high school. He knew I had quit, but he didn’t know much about recovery. We hadn’t seen each other for months, since before I’d gone to the treatment center. We went out to a bar. I don’t think I had any intention of drinking. After an hour or two of playing pool and being in the midst of a crowd of people who were drinking, I ordered a beer. To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking. After five or six beers, I knew I had screwed up.

I wasn’t nearly as wasted as I wanted to be. What now? Because of everything I had heard in recovery groups, I now felt a tremendous sense of guilt. Why did I let this happen? Looking back on it, I can see that it was a chain of events. Talking with Gary, meeting him at a bar, staying and playing pool—all the sights, sounds and smells were too much for me in the beginning of my sobriety. A bad idea. Those few drinks did not give me the effect I craved. I realized that it was going to take much more than a few drinks. I didn’t want that old life back and it became obvious to me that I had to make an all or nothing choice.


It was just one night, but that one night motivated me to get right back to working on my recovery. This would fall into the category of a slip—one stupid decision that was brief and over quickly. I guess I just had to test the water one more time. What this experience did was confirm to me that my addiction was real. I felt like an idiot. I had just blown one hundred fifty days of sobriety and I didn’t even enjoy it.

Having a few drinks had always been the start of trouble for me. I knew I had to come to my senses right away, or I would soon be looking for drugs as well. This small slip would end up as a complete return to full-blown using, or I could end it that night. By this time in my recovery, I had learned enough to know what was happening and what the consequences could be. I must have had a moment of clarity. Nobody needed to tell me that I’d screwed up. Going back to the old life was the last thing I wanted.

 I wasn’t sure what to do, so I decided to go back to my treatment center for a couple of days to sort this out. I have heard similar stories from others who have relapsed. Many of them remember that exact, pivotal moment when they were faced with the decision of what to do. Here are the two different trains of thought that can occur to an addict after a relapse. I’ve blown it anyway, so I may as well keep using for a while. Or, This was a dumb idea. I’d better get right back to recovery before it gets much worse. Thankfully, the latter was my thinking.

Ways to Avoid Relapse
Developing relationships with others who are facing the same challenges are very important. A couple of close friends, a sponsor, a mentor—any one of these—can help hold a person accountable. I knew I had let some people down. But these same people were able to encourage me to keep moving forward.

One of the results of an addict spending time with people in recovery is that it will ruin their once seemingly gratifying relationship with alcohol and drug use. Those in recovery learn about the disease, and from that point on they know too much about its power to ever enjoy it the way they used to. They know that there’s no going back. If someone slips, they often feel the way I did—like an idiot for even trying to enjoy it again. But this is all okay, as we all learn from mistakes like this. Family and friends shouldn’t get too discouraged when someone slips, because it’s common in early recovery. Look at it as one more opportunity for your loved one to become convinced that the addiction is indeed real.

Relapse is often compared to a series of stairs—and landings in-between the flights. The addict might be up three flights and two landings when they relapse. They don’t fall into the basement; they only go down one floor.

Is there a difference between a slip and a relapse?
Sort of. The difference lies in how a person handles it. A slip is when someone goes back out to drink or use drugs, screws up, realizes it, and gets right back to working on their recovery. A full-blown relapse would be when a person goes back to using and stays gone for a period of time, which is tragically long enough to get right back to the bottom of the pit they climbed out of.

I am in no way suggesting that anyone should slip or relapse to test his addiction for even one night. One night can easily turn into one thou­sand nights; some may never return. What I am saying is that a person who has slipped shouldn’t beat himself up over it. And families need to help the addict move forward and keep trying. As a concerned loved one, you may experience heart-wrenching disappointment when you see a user fall. But remember, all hope is not lost. The addict should just return to attending groups or meetings, learn the lesson, and move on.

Why does relapse happen and what are the triggers?
The number one reason for a slip or relapse is stress, stress that is building to a seemingly uncontrollable level. Webster’s Dictionary de­fines stress as physical, mental, or emotional tension or strain. A little stress is a normal part of life and can even be good for us. The problem, of course, occurs when stress builds to an unmanageable level.

People learn to cope with stress in different ways. What works best for me is exercise and communication. Talking things through with oth­er users, and with my family, makes all the difference. Exercise helps to eliminate the effects of stress on my body and talking works the same way for my mind. As a person in recovery, I know how I used to handle the stress of life—with some form of medication. This method never solved anything.


I’ve heard it said that the only people who never experience stress are in cemeteries. Connecting with others who have had similar stress­ors is one good way to lighten your burdens. To know you are not alone, that you’re not the only one struggling, is comforting. This is especially true for a person in recovery. But the cause of a person’s stress is not the issue. Life will always have its problems. Rather, how someone chooses to deal with the challenges of life is what matters. Family and friends need to know that not properly handling these inevitable frustrations is the number one cause for relapse.

Understanding Relapse
Even after reading this, you may still have trouble under­standing why a relapse may happen. I’m a recovering addict, it hap­pened to me, and it’s hard for me to completely understand as well. The truth is that a recovering addict may relapse several times. The best thing to do is to try to remain hopeful, and encourage the person to keep on fighting the battle, though you may feel anger, frustration, and disap­pointment. Getting some support from others in the family, and from groups such as Al-Anon, will be helpful. And try to remember that the recovering person will feel these feelings as intensely as you do.

I would recommend going to some “open” AA meetings. This is a superb resource for families. Open meetings are for anyone interested in this topic. Just sit and listen as others share what it was like for them and how they got sober.

Relapse is similar to a cancer that comes out of remission. It doesn’t do any good to get mad at the cancer or the person. The same is true for the disease of addiction. Instead, try to focus on the solution, which is to get your loved one sober and drug-free. Eventually, with the help of family and the right support, those in recovery will stop relapsing, regardless if they’ve had one relapse or a dozen.

Relapse Happens
Some who are reading this may have already observed several relapses. You may be asking, When will it ever stop? You can take com­fort in knowing that a majority of people in recovery will have a few relapses. For a small minority, it could be much worse, and additional long-term treatment may be necessary. Remember, never give up hope!

This article is excerpted from the book Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.

Joe Herzanek, a man who battled his own demons of addiction over thirty years ago. He often tells others, “I know people can change. If I can do it, anyone can!”

Chaplain Joe Herzanek is the president and founder of Changing Lives Foundation. As a state certified addiction counselor in Colorado he spent over seventeen years working in the criminal justice system as the Chaplain/Addiction Counselor at both the Boulder and Weld County Jails.
Joe is a dynamic speaker, the former host of Recovery Television, producer of several DVDs, and author of the award-winning book “Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.” written for families or friends struggling to help a loved one recover from alcohol or drug addiction. His book along with the companion DVD “The 10 Toughest Questions” offer rare insights into the mind of the substance abuser and how it impacts the family.
To arrange a workshop or presentation at your organization:
Email jherzanek@gmail.com or call Joe at (303) 775.6493 for more info.

www.drug-addiction-help-now.org

____________________________________________________________

Changing Lives Foundation Logo
. . . a Colorado Non-Profit Organization

____________________________________________________________

> FREE NEWSLETTER:
Please sign up for our Free Changing Lives E-Newsletter!

RESOURCES:
> Phone Counseling for Family Members
>
Recommended Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
> Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug Treatment Directory
> Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers

RELATED:
>
Relapse explained: “Slips and Human Nature”
> Addiction: What if they just CAN’T quit?
> Help an Addict by “Raising their Bottom”
> Addicts Don’t Want To Die

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.
Get the help you need today.
Why Don’t They Just Quit?
What families and friends need to know
about addiction and recovery

> Paperback
> Kindle
> Audio Book CD (6 . 54 min.) (LISTEN TO SAMPLE)
> Audio Book Download

> JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (now over 2,339 members):
This was sent to us recently by one of our wonderful Facebook Private Group members: “I feel I need the support of others that can relate to how I’m feeling. I’m unable to attend face to face meetings. Therefore groups, like Changing Lives has literally been a lifeline for me. Your group is the first I go to every day. I believe this was the first group I joined on Facebook. Thank you! My life has forever changed…for the better!” Please consider joining us. Ask to join and a group member will sign you in!

RETURN:
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Relapse, loved one, what to do, Relapse, loved one, what to do

 

 

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“The Accidental Addict”

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“The Accidental Addict”

Accidental Addict

 ~By Joe Herzanek
In the movie “Requium for a Dream” Sara Goldfarb (played by Ellen Burstyn), a widowed mother, finds herself hooked on diet pills. We watch as her world gradually spirals out of control.

This scenario and others that are similar, are becoming all too common. Teenagers, young mothers, parents and grandparents–all are susceptible to prescription drug addiction.

Much of today’s information on this topic deals with the problem–how widespread it is, and highlights the “celebrity of the day” who has succumed to its consequences.

We know that you are seeking answers. For the friend or family member who is at a loss of what to do, the solutions detailed in my book Why Don’t They Just Quit? remain the same. Empathy, education, intervention and allowing consequences to happen. All apply, regardess of the type of addiction.

A prescription drug abuser is sometimes referred to as an “accidental addict.”

The Grammy Awards #1 Song of the Year 2008 was awarded to Amy Winehouse for her song “Rehab”.

Our recent news features tragic stories of singers, models, movie stars and other well-known celebrities–many who are in trouble with drug abuse, either in rehab, needing to be in rehab, just getting out of, or going back into rehab. Sadly, some are paying the ultimate price for their drug use. What we are also seeing is the abuse of prescription drugs. The famous, along with the not-so-famous, are dying while using legal, often doctor prescribed pain and stress management pills. Recently, we see more and more people switching from Oxycontin to Heroin because of the much lower cost and ease of accessibility.

Fifty years ago, a drug called Valium became popular and was immortalized in a song by the Rolling Stones called “Mother’s Little Helper”. We now know that this class of drugs called benzodiazapens (Valium, Xanax, Librum, Klonapin) are possibly the most difficult drugs to get off of—even more difficult to quit than Heroin. We’ve learned much since 1968.

Legal, tested and FDA approved drugs are just as powerful as street drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine. In fact, there is a legal form of Meth called Dysoxin, which is often prescribed for children with ADD.

Many prescribed drugs are helpful for a percentage of those who use them. The pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money from these drugs. There is nothing wrong with making money. The problem is that these drugs are over prescribed and the dependency issue and side effects are not made clear to most users.

A case in point involves one of the most powerful and addictive pain medications on the market—the drug Oxycontin. The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, promoted the drug as effective and non-addictive. On May 10, 2007, Purdue Pharma reached a settlement, paying 1,100 patients a total of $75 million (no big deal though, since annual sales of Oxycontin have reached $1.5 Billion). (click here for more details on this case)

Advancements in technology and medicine have increased the quality of life for many people, but not for all.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
-Albert Einstein

or, in the words of Amy Winehouse:

“They tried to make me go to rehab,
but I said no, no, no.”

Drug Rehab Can Be A Tough Sell To Prescription
Drug Addicts:

Drug Rehab Can Be A Tough Sell


~By Rod MacTaggart

Tens of thousands of Americans have found out the hard way that addiction to prescription drugs is every bit as dangerous and devastating as addictions to alcohol and all the infamous and illegal street drugs. For many prescription drug addicts, an intervention is needed to get them into drug rehab.

If you have a friend or loved one who is addicted to prescription drugs, that unfortunate person is not alone. Prescription drug abuse is out of control in this country, and addiction statistics are climbing out the roof. For example:

* Methadone addiction is up 29 percent

* Prescription pain reliever addiction is up 24 percent

* Anti-anxiety drug (benzodiazepine) addiction is up 19 percent.

Just because the pills were prescribed by a doctor doesn’t mean they are safe. Yet this is the kind of excuse you often hear from prescription drug addicts. Meanwhile, drug detox and rehab centers are reporting more prescription drug cases than ever before – often more than the traditional street drug addictions. Hundreds of people are dead because of prescription drugs side effects and interactions with other drugs. And there are hundreds of articles on the Internet these days describing how quickly people can get addicted to prescription drugs and how hard it is to get off them.

Most stories we’ve seen also describe how often addicts refuse to enter drug detox or rehab despite urging from friends and family members. When they try to intervene, they hit a brick wall. This isn’t because the addicted person is different from, or worse than, other addicts, or even ungrateful – they know they need help no matter what they say. But addiction to prescription drugs is often defended by the addict as “it’s just prescription drugs – they’re from the doctor!”

An experienced drug rehab intervention specialist possesses insights about the sources of addiction and the effects they have on someone’s thought processes. For example, many addicts actually don’t realize their addiction can lead to illness or death. With your help, the interventionist can get the addict to understand and accept what’s really going on with them, and become willing to enter drug rehab to deal with it.

Once your loved one has made the decision to go to drug rehab, the intervention specialist can help you find the best possible drug rehab program for your needs and budget – a drug rehab program that works, and through which your loved one can recover and rebuild his or her life, free forever from prescription drug addiction.

Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer who contributes articles on health.

____________________________________________________________

Changing Lives Foundation Logo
. . . a Colorado Non-Profit Organization

____________________________________________________________

> FREE NEWSLETTER:
Please sign up for our Free Changing Lives E-Newsletter!

RESOURCES:
> Phone Counseling for Family Members
>
Recommended Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
> Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug Treatment Directory
> Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers

RELATED:
> Addicts Don’t Want To Die
> Relapse. It Happens.
~by Joe Herzanek
> Tackling the Growing Problem of Drug Abuse in Older People
> Help an Addict by “Raising their Bottom”

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.
Get the help you need today.
Why Don’t They Just Quit?
What families and friends need to know
about addiction and recovery

> Paperback
> Kindle
> Audio Book CD (6 . 54 min.) (LISTEN TO SAMPLE)
> Audio Book Download

> JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (now over 2,339 members):
This was sent to us recently by one of our wonderful Facebook Private Group members: “I feel I need the support of others that can relate to how I’m feeling. I’m unable to attend face to face meetings. Therefore groups, like Changing Lives has literally been a lifeline for me. Your group is the first I go to every day. I believe this was the first group I joined on Facebook. Thank you! My life has forever changed…for the better!” Please consider joining us. Ask to join and a group member will sign you in!

RETURN:
From “The Accidental Addict”
to Changing Lives Foundation Blog Home

_________________________________________________________________
accidental addict, prescription drug addiction, accidental addict

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Our Addicted Child

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Our Addicted Child:
that feeling of powerlessness was horrible.

Our Addicted Child

 

~By Daniel Green (Recovering Addict)

Daniel Green interviews his parents on how they coped, living with an addicted child.

Daniel: So, first thing’s first, what was it like living with a child in active addiction?

Mom: It was horrible. Horrible beyond words. We never knew what to expect. I never knew what to expect and that’s true of the big stuff and the little stuff. When I say the big stuff, I mean thinking you were going to get arrested, overdose, or die. You know what’s so bleak about having a child who’s also an addict?

At the end of your addiction, I wanted you to get arrested. At least then I would know where you were and that you were alive. Having to seriously consider the fact that my child might die was also probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Imagine feeling all that and knowing there’s not much you can do to change it. Of course, I thought there was a lot I could do at the time.

“Coming to terms with my own, and your mother’s, powerlessness was very hard.” ~Daniel’s Dad

Dad: Yeah, your mother pretty much covered it. I’d just add that that feeling of powerlessness was horrible. I thought, man I even knew, there must be something I could do to help you. I tried everything. We paid for therapists, counselors, drug treatment, school, everything. None of it worked. Coming to terms with my own, and your mother’s, powerlessness was very hard.

Daniel: How did you cope?

Mom: I don’t know that we did cope. Well, I don’t know that I coped anyway. From the time you were about fourteen to nineteen, I was pretty much a mess. I lived in fear and anxiety. Once of the outpatient clinics you went to had a parents’ support group. I went there once a week and kept in contact with the other mothers. That was probably the most helpful action I took.

Dad: I’m with your mother on this one. I don’t think I coped too well, if at all. I tried going to the parents’ group, but I found it more depressing than helpful. We all sat around on these folding chairs. I don’t know. It just wasn’t for me. I threw myself that much harder into work [my dad is a doctor]. When I was at the hospital, I wasn’t thinking about you. Well, that’s not 100% true, but it offered me some relief.

Daniel: Where there other resources or techniques you used to deal with me basically being a living, breathing train wreck?

Dad: Well, I didn’t mention prayer. I prayed a lot. That helped, but again, it wasn’t a magical cure. It wasn’t a silver bullet. There probably wasn’t anything that was a silver bullet. I sought counseling from our Rabbi. That only went so far. I think part of having a child struggling with addiction is just gritting your teeth and hoping that things will get better.

“I never gave up hope. I don’t think a parent can.” ~Daniel’s Dad

Mom: The support group was really what helped me the most. Like your father, I did prayer and seek religious help and that was absolutely helpful. It only went so far though. Mainly it was talking with other parents who had been where we were and some whose kids had found recovery.

Daniel: Did you blame yourselves for my addiction?

Mom: I did for a long time. Certainly I did when you were using drugs. I questioned myself a lot. Things along the lines of “what if I had done this?” and “Why am I such a bad mother?” It was hard! I’ve come to learn that I’m not responsible for your addiction or your recovery. That was another big thing for me to learn. There’s not much I could do to make you stop using drugs. I thought doing this or that would work. Ultimately, it was up to you.

Dad: I did blame myself. I thought maybe I wasn’t a good enough father or role model for you. I thought there were things I could have done differently when you were a child. I even blamed my genes. Addiction runs in our family, you know. I never had a problem, but others did. I used to wish I had different genes. That our whole family did. After doing a family workshop at the first residential rehab you went to, I learned I wasn’t to blame. I guess I knew that all along, but it’s one thing to know it and it’s another to feel it.

Daniel: Is there anything you’d like to say to parents struggling with a child in active addiction or alcoholism?

Dad: Don’t give up hope! You went to seven outpatient rehabs, two inpatient ones, and more private therapists than I can count. You seemed hopeless. That’s it. I never gave up hope though. I don’t think a parent can. I think it’s hardwired into us to never give up on our children. Anyway, I kept hoping you’d get it one day. That it [being sober] would click. And it did.

Mom: Yes, don’t give up hope and seek help for yourself. It was so important for me to have support during your addiction. Your father was amazing, but I needed more. He was just as clueless as I was. I needed parents who had been there before, who had come out and were able to smile again.

BIO:
Daniel Green
is a writer and media specialist at Lighthouse Recovery Institute  He’s been sober since 2008 and loves being able to give back to the still struggling addict or alcoholic.

FAMILY PHONE COUNSELING:
> Phone Counseling for Family Members

Gain peace of mind, knowing that you are taking the steps necessary to begin healing and recovery—for your loved-one and your family.

MORE Al-ANON-RELATED ARTICLES:
> Why is Addiction Called A Family Disease?
> Twelve Signs of A Spiritual Awakening in Al-Anon
> The Critical Role of Al-Anon in Family Addiction Recovery
> Are AA, Nar-Anon or Al-Anon twelve-step meetings really important?

RESOURCES:
> Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
>
Recommended Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
> Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug Treatment Directory
> Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.
Get the help you need today.
Why Don’t They Just Quit?
What families and friends need to know
about addiction and recovery
~by Joe Herzanek

Author/Chaplain Joe HerzanekTo arrange a workshop or presentation at your organization with Author/Speaker Joe Herzanek
call: 303.775.6493 or email: Jherzanek@gmail.com

More info about Speaking Engagements with Author/Chaplain Joe Herzanek

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“Our Addicted Child” to Changing Lives Foundation Blog Home

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How Alcoholism Affects the Entire Family

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How Alcoholism Affects the Entire Family

Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2015

~By Jail Chaplain Joe Herzanek, Family Addiction Counselor and Author of Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.”

This article is included in the current FREE magazine download:  Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2015  (Page 21).

Alcoholism is devastating to all members of the family. Family members may have watched someone they love turn into a stranger. They ask, “How did this happen? Why didn’t we see it sooner? Are we somehow to blame? How do we make it stop? What if we can’t make it stop? Why won’t this person listen to us? Can’t they see what’s happening to them?” The list is long.

From the shared experiences of Al-Anon members at meetings and in Al-Anon literature, the family learns that alcoholism is not their fault. With that understanding, some of the pressure is lifted. By attending Al-Anon meetings, my clients gain clarity and peace of mind, so that they can take positive action.

“My family phone counseling clients who attend Al-Anon meetings come to understand that they can have peace, regardless of their loved one’s poor choices.”

Al-Anon supplements and reinforces the information I give my clients about alcoholism as a disease. My clients gain encouragement from attending Al-Anon meetings. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Doing what’s best (which sometimes means doing nothing—but allowing consequences to happen) is often extremely challenging. Al-Anon members help and play a special role because they are like-minded and share common experiences as a result of living with an alcoholic.

My phone counseling clients who attend Al-Anon meetings come to understand that they can have peace, regardless of their loved one’s poor choices. Family members learn that recovery is a process that takes time. But they learn that they are not alone, and that help is available from the Al-Anon program.

FAMILY PHONE COUNSELING:
> Phone Counseling for Family Members

Gain peace of mind, knowing that you are taking the steps necessary to begin healing and recovery—for your loved-one and your family.

MORE Al-ANON-RELATED ARTICLES:
> Why is Addiction Called A Family Disease?
> Twelve Signs of A Spiritual Awakening in Al-Anon
> The Critical Role of Al-Anon in Family Addiction Recovery
> Are AA, Nar-Anon or Al-Anon twelve-step meetings really important?

RESOURCES:
> Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
> Phone Counseling for Family Members
>
Recommended Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
> Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug Treatment Directory
> Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.
Get the help you need today.
Why Don’t They Just Quit?
What families and friends need to know
about addiction and recovery

Author/Chaplain Joe HerzanekTo arrange a workshop or presentation at your organization
call: 303.775.6493 or email: Jherzanek@gmail.com

More info about Speaking Engagements with Author/Chaplain Joe Herzanek


RETURN:
From “How Alcoholism Affects the Entire Family
to Changing Lives Foundation Blog Home

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Family Alcoholism, Al-Anon, Family Alcoholism, Al-Anon, Family Alcoholism, Al-Anon,

 

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