I have been thinking about cautionary tales. A cautionary tale comes from folklore; its duty is to warn the listener of danger and essentially choose to take action or heed a warning. Oft times there is a dilemma which requires action.

It is no secret we have an alcohol and other drug crisis in our country. The death count mounts daily and hundreds of thousands of lives are effected in more ways then we can imagine. The data undulates before us and yet families and friends act in isolation as if there is no one else but them and as if help is out of reach.

Here are some cautionary tales from the field

A mother calls. She is crying and can hardly cobble out her words. Her 16 year old is in the hospital. He has difficulty breathing and yet is raging like a fire breathing dragon, yelling expletives to all that can hear. He tested positive for Xanax and other drugs and vaping marijuana has ruined his lungs. He stopped going to school and keeps his family hostage in their beautiful home, which despite it’s fine American beauty decor feels more like drab, dark prison walls that members come and go from.

A women who walks like a former beauty queen calls. She has the voice of a poet and grabs your attention with the melody of her voice. She is broken. Having grown up in an alcoholic home where mum brought home new partners all the time she thought that was just what one did. Alcohol bottles and cocktail shakers lined her home like fine porcelain knickknacks. Never quite right and always trying to please she was bright, beautiful, and talented; and yet she was so adult lured by men and women who have her things and wanted bodily favors in return. Masking herself with alcohol and drugs just as mum did at 16, she now has a full blown habit. Today she wanted help.

A husband calls . His life is in shambles . All the pot, all the porn, all the exercise can’t hide the pain of grief and loss. His son overdosed and and died. He grew up in a home that raged and whose middle name was “you’re not good enough.“ His life was meaningless and his marriage empty. There was no love just lies deceptions and secrets. What should he do?

A lawyer calls about his talented, over-the-top successful client who takes too many pills and has too many doctors on his payroll. They respond at all hours sending over and refilling prescriptions all in the name of health. We try and help him get the help he needs. He rejects armed with a symphony of white coats who are on retainer.

Despite all attempts several months go by and we get the call. He is dead. Like Humpty Dumpty we cannot put him back together again. There are bottles scattered throughout the house with the doctors name. An investigation begins.

A father calls worried about his 30 something daughter. She is not able to take care of her young children. Her husband is filing for separation. Mental health and addiction run in her family just as surely as blood runs through her veins. She has a back problem, a learning problem, and a depression problem. Most of all, she has a prescription problem fostered by a doctor who will fill prescriptions if you go to his office and use his pharmacy. Do we turn the doctor in? Do we get her help? These are the questions this family must ponder.

A brother calls about His 31 year old brother. He is an elementary school teacher using mouthwash daily to hide the alcohol on his breath. He lives with their mother who suffers from delusions and will not do anything to help her son. She is afraid he will never talk to her again

A woman calls because her 68 year old sister fell down and broke her arm. Once a talented musician, she now lives alone and the check out stand at CVS became her happy place as she checked out with gallons of vodka. She is too old for help, her sister said.

Each of these cautionary tales are stories of human love and of human error, of tragic catastrophes brought on by wounded hearts. Each of them can help you take action can make you wiser in your community.

Each of these stories may be The Reason people call. No one need sit back in the the shadows of their homes waiting for divine intervention to take place or for their loved one to reach a “bottom.“

Here are 7 things you can do immediately:

  • Learn that addiction is a disease that changes the circuitry of ones brain. It is not a moral failing.
  • Learn that nobody ever set out to be an addict or alcoholic or experience depression or anxiety etc.
  • That you can set healthy compassionate boundaries to help your love one get the help they need.
  • That saying no or restricting money or access does not mean you do not love one rather it means you are creating a scenario of health and wellness.
  • That just like the life guard who tries to save a drowning person the person helping is often pulled under the water and yet the lifeguard still keeps going.
  • That you can be a spokesperson in your home and in your community that takes mental health and substance abuse out of the closet and becomes issues which we can freely talk about and work together to solve.
  • Learn that help is just a phone call away.

So take a leap of faith and be The Reason your loved one gets the help they need. Not only may you be successful, it will change the trajectory of your life and those around you.


  • Louise Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CDWF, CIP

    Writer, Speaker, Clinician, Interventionist

    Dr. Louise Stanger founded All About Interventions because she is passionate about helping families whose loved ones experience substance abuse, mental health, process addictions and chronic pain. She is committed to showing up for her clients and facilitating lasting change so families are free from sleepless, worrisome nights. Additionally, she speaks about these topics all around the country, trains staff at many treatment centers, and develops original family programs. In 2018, Louise became the recipient of the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House Excellence in Service Award. She most recently received the Interventionist of the Year Award from DB Resources in London and McLean Hospital - an affiliate of Harvard University, in 2019. To learn more, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDf5262P7I8 and visit her website at allaboutinterventions.com.