Help for Families Facing Substance Abuse
Joe and Judy Herzanek, Changing Lives Foundation
by Russ Teets
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles describing the people and agencies in and around Boulder that First Pres supports through Local Missions.
First Pres’ relationship with Joe Herzanek started in 1999 when Local Missions began supporting him as the Chaplain at the Boulder County Jail. In that role, Joe leads Bible studies, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings in the jail, provides Bibles, conducts one-on-one Christian Studies and substance abuse counseling—along with coordinating all religious volunteer activities.
In his role as Addictions Counselor at the jail, Joe spends time counseling inmates and advising their family members and others in the community on effective ways to negotiate the often complex “world of addiction and recovery.” Approximately 90% of all inmates have an alcohol or drug problem. He often gets calls from family members asking for advice on what they can do to help the person quit.
Joe’s personal struggles earlier in life were preparation for working with offenders who also have addiction problems. From age 13 to 29, Joe battled his own drug and alcohol problem—finally receiving treatment. He now has over 30 years of abstinence from substances. Joe has a real passion for helping people caught up in substance abuse and also their family and friends. He is the founder of Changing Lives Foundation and author of the book Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery which won the Best Self-Help Book award in 2008.
Changing Lives Foundation is committed to bringing to the public clear and concise information on substance abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism and compulsive behaviors. Perhaps more importantly, they focus on how individuals and families recover from these problems. Although it is very challenging, many people recover and make dramatic changes in their lives.
In addition to the book Why Don’t They Just Quit? Joe has a number of other resources to help families:
• a DVD titled The 10 Toughest Questions, which seem to come up again and again during the counseling he does. These include such topics as: “How can I tell if a person is addicted or just a heavy user? How do I confront this person? How do I handle adolescent use and abuse? How do I show my love without enabling? How do I get my life back?”
• a wealth of resources on the website www.ChangingLivesFoundation.org
• seminars for the public, like the one he held at First Pres last April.
• radio shows
• family counseling.
Joe specializes in “crisis counseling” for those situations that seem hopeless or impossible. He’s especially gifted at helping families find their way “out” and partnering with them to formulate a plan. This counseling can be in person or by phone.
Joe is a quiet, calm man with a deep faith in Jesus Christ—important attributes for dealing with crisis situations. According to Keith Vandergrift, Missions Pastor at First Pres: “Joe strikes a fine balance—demonstrating religious values in his approach to recovery, but avoiding a preachy or pushy posture. He makes it clear he is a Christian, but speaks in a way that is comfortable to anyone who wants to learn more about how to help others in their struggle. That’s not an easy thing to do and Joe pulls it off as well as anyone I’ve seen.”
Joe’s wife Judy works behind the scenes. As the Director of Creative Development and Marketing for Changing Lives Foundation she manages all communications, graphic design, marketing, customer service, order fulfillment and creative implementation of content for printed and online resources, publicity and presentations.
Joe and Judy have three children—and are “empty-nesters.” They enjoy living in Colorado, playing with their two Cairn Terriers Lewis and Clark (yes, just like Toto), camping, and most of all—hiking above treeline in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
CLICK HERE to view a wonderful video of all the missions First Pres supports.