Dr. Louise Stanger, Ed.D, LCSW has successfully conducted hundreds of family interventions throughout the United States. The professor, clinician, trainer, and lecturer is the author of a new book, Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal.
Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Journal of Alcohol Studies, Recovery View, Sober Way, and many other scholarly publications.
She has over three decades of experience as a college professor, a researcher who accumulated over five million dollars in government grants, and a licensed clinician working with families and individuals who experience substance abuse and mental health disorders. For more information regarding her intervention processes, please consult: www.allaboutinterventions.com.
Dr. Stanger received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, Masters in Social Work from San Diego State College, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of San Diego. She has served as faculty at San Diego State University School of Social Work and SDSU Interwork Institute, as well as the Director of Alcohol and Drug Services at the University of San Diego.
The San Diego Business Journal listed Dr. Stanger as one of the Top 10 “Women Who Mean Business” and Quit Alcohol named her as one of the Top 10 Interventionists in the country in December of 2013. Foundations Recovery Network – at their 2014 Moments of Change Conference held in West Palm Beach – proclaimed Dr. Stanger as the Fan Favorite Speaker.
She lives with her husband, John, in West Hollywood, California, with their two miniature golden doodles. She has three grown daughters, two step sons, and together with her husband has 7 grandchildren.
When Addiction Needs Intervention
by Dr. Louise Stanger
Addiction is the masked bandit that steals away control in the night and puts false capes of super power on as blinders to the truth that swirls around them.
When this happens, now is the time for the family to also get help, to create healthy boundaries with their loved one, communicating what is and what is not acceptable behaviors. Getting mad at and looking for fault in the loved one experiencing a substance abuse disorder is not the answer; rather, joining as a team, collaborating, setting and holding firm boundaries is the answer.
Stand back, pause, and let the professionals do their job.
Some families prefer that their loved one have a mental health or physical illness rather than a substance abuse issue or addiction. Sex, shopping, eating, gambling, porn, spending, and social media – addictions that professionals term “process disorders” – are also sticky to deal with. Families often become irritable, indignant, frightened, huffy, offended, vexed, and wrathful if professionals see the situation differently.
While in treatment, I’ve even seen loved ones take a professional off the clinical information sharing consent form as a way to exert control. I witnessed parents pull a loved one out of treatment only to later regret the tragic consequences, which ensued. That’s the key – control.
The frustration you feel as a family is not that the treatment provider has failed but rather the confusion, bafflement and trepidation over how long it takes for your loved one to connect their own dots and seek health and wellness for themselves.
Often times the “handing over the keys” or giving up control is the very thing the person experiencing substance abuse needs. It’s time away from family. When entitlement, poor judgment, and a lack of emotional intelligence due to coddling by their well-intentioned parents, is coupled with mental health and substance abuse disorders that have run wild, it becomes a toxic cocktail.
Do not fret. There is courage in handing the reins over to treatment professionals and centers. There is bravery in everyone getting help. Temporarily, this may feel like you are falling down the rabbit hole, losing control in the short term, but you, your loved one, and your family as a whole will benefit in the long run.
Like the life-cycle of the butterfly – whose life begins as an egg on plants that caterpillars like to eat like hollyhocks or thistle – you and your loved ones will change in time given the proper care and feeding, sunlight, and willingness. As a metamorphosis takes place, a butterfly begins to take shape. Then the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, a new creation. Such too is the life cycle of recovery. We all must be reborn from the chrysalis, dust off our wings and learn to soar with the help of family, friends, clinicians, coaches and mentors.
“I remember when my father died. I was seven years old.”
The opening lines of Dr. Louise Stanger’s memoir of renewal, Falling Up, indicate just the beginning of what has turned into a life of loss and challenge – and of perseverance and accomplishment. Dr. Stanger, a prominent addiction interventionist, has had to overcome more than her fair share of troubles.
Not only did she lose her dad and grandparents to suicide, but her husband died before she turned 45, and her infant son died of SIDS. Other family members and friends died young or suffered from mental illness and/or addiction. In some ways, she’s been in recovery her whole life and has been in an understanding position when it comes to her work of the last three decades—helping others live with addiction and families to rebound from the damage that comes from addiction.
“I live a life of recovery,” says Dr. Stanger. “On the one hand, I help others recover from addiction and in how they choose to live amidst life’s challenges. And in my personal life, I’m constantly finding ways to navigate the roadblocks, losses, and curves that come my way.”
Born into a tipsy-turvy world fraught with family issues, Dr. Stanger shares personal stories infused with that spark of human experience we collectively share – hope. You will follow her from an awkward little girl to a fearless adult. Through her family tragedies and triumphs – and battles with mental health challenges – Falling Up dares the reader to reflect on their own story as they witness the power that comes when we have the courage to get up. We all fall down, but with strength and conviction, the journey can lift us upward. Falling Up provides readers with a road map for their own successful renewal.
“This book is dedicated to all you wonderful vulnerable folks out there who have fought like me back to clarity out of the I can fix it bazaar,” says Dr. Stanger. “Back to solid ground. We’ve both been there –pulling out all the stops – from standing on your head meditating, to mortgaging your home, to blaming others, to rescuing, to bailing out, to stand-up paddling down the Amazon. All in an effort to help your loved one stop using alcohol or other drugs, stop the horror of depression and mania, stop hemorrhaging all their money away, stop sleeping with folks they do not know, stop binging and purging, stop becoming intimate with law enforcement, with drug cartels, with brothels, stop demolishing a house without a contractor’s license, and stop lying about where they went or who they were with and what they were doing.”
There are certainly many inspiring insights and lessons that readers can gather from her motivational message of renewal and transformation that no matter the odds one is confronted with, he or she can not only survive, but thrive.
Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal (WZY Press)
Trade Paper, 180 pages
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