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Author Topic: The Ethics of Intervention  (Read 2407 times)
Perzephone
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« Topic Start: January 08, 2010, 09:46:27 pm »

I have found myself in an odd situation. My best friend (I'll call her Marie) is an alcoholic. She is dying of liver failure that has affected her kidneys and heart. She may make it to the end of the year, but most likely, she will not. I've known her since I was 10 years old, so 26 years now, she's been my closest friend - but we've drifted apart over time and space, so we're not even that close anymore. She lives in northern California, I've been in Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Louisiana, etc.

Anyway, one of her closer friends informed me via a social networking site that Marie was in the hospital & the prognosis was not good. She also said that no one - none of Marie's friends or family, knew that her drinking had gotten to this point. I've known all along that once Marie started drinking around the age of 21, well... she's been an alcoholic. Most of my family have been or are alcoholics & addicts, and I struggle with it myself. I know all too well the signs and symptoms of a drinking problem.

However, partly because of my drifting away from Marie, my own demons, and partly because of my religious ethics, I have never talked to her about her drinking. As her friend, I never felt I was 'close' enough anymore. As a fellow drunk, it's like the pot calling the kettle black - and I know all too well that you can't make an addict or alcoholic stop unless they really want to stop. As a Pagan, I did not feel it was my right to inflict change on her without her permission. In fact, I think my religious ethics are the biggest stumbling block to all of it. I am opposed to things like interventions because other people are forcing their opinions on someone, even if (and maybe worst of all) they're doing it out of love or because they will miss that person if they die or ruin their lives to the point of no return. I always feel like, since I am Pagan, that I should know better and mind my own business so I won't infringe on someone else's right to live their life in the way they see fit.

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?
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« Reply #1: January 08, 2010, 10:27:05 pm »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?

I am an alcoholic, people spent  a lot of time trying to get me to stop drinking.  I did not hear what they were saying, until I was ready to hear it.

Questions to consider before intervening:

What are your true motives for intervening?
Is this intervention necessary?
Are you the one, or one of those who should be intervening?
Is this in line with your beliefs?
Does you beliefs allow you to do nothing?
Are you going to try to guilt (a laundry list unpleasant things the person has done) of the person into stopping? Not recommended.
Love (reasons why they should stop) them into stopping? (guilt by another name).

Lastly if you decide to intervene make no promises to them.  If you must you can say "this may help", do not say "that it will help".


 
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« Reply #2: January 09, 2010, 01:23:28 am »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation?

Fairly black and white for me. If a person perceives a change in the world as necessary that imposes on them the duty and the responsibility to act, together with the moral authority to do so. Of course, same goes for all the other players Smiley
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« Reply #3: January 09, 2010, 08:09:04 am »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?

I think I have an obligation to try to help friends in such situations, but unless they are a danger to themselves (planning to kill themselves type danger, not just making poor choices that could shorten their life) or others, I don't have the right to try to force them to change.
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« Reply #4: January 09, 2010, 10:41:44 am »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?

As a healer, it is my obligation to step in where I see this sort of thing happening and do what I can to improve the situation, as early on as possible.

That said, I cannot force anyone to do anything.  If you're an addict and don't want to make the effort to free yourself from that, I can't force you to.  But I can hand you the tools to do so if you wish it, and I can be there to help you through the worst of it.

I do not feel that it is unethical to call someone on their crap.  Mind you, if you're also an addict, you have to call yourself on your own crap at the same time or you're a hypocrite.

Now, Intervention.  That is a loaded gun right there.  I don't believe that the model used for Intervention is ethical or effective.  Confronting the situation is one thing, but the way that the current intervention model is usually implemented isn't just confrontation, it's accusation and venting of the spleen upon the person.  Calling an addict on their crap is good, but the way that I've seen interventions done isn't that.  It is spewing bile upon them because those holding the intervention are hurt.  That's not effective.  That most often results in a rousing round of F-you.  What a great way to deal with the issue.  </sarcasm>
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« Reply #5: January 09, 2010, 10:59:11 am »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?

I'm a champion of free will up to and including the point where a person harms him or herself, or others around them. I feel that if one of my friends is harming themselves, it's my prerogative to step in and stop it. Personally, I'm really not a fan of putting non-medical drugs in my system, but so long as my friends are being legal about it and not bothering me, I won't say anything. However, you can bet that as soon as I suspect drug abuse, I'm on my friends like stripes on a zebra.

I do not believe people have the right to harm themselves. People are certainly welcome to disagree with me. The reason I think this is because I've had multiple friends who have either been bipolar or depressed and have resorted to self-mutilation. They certainly were not in the mindset to make rational decisions involving their own health and self-worth. Had I been there at the time, I would have stopped them - and, if it happened again, or if I thought for a second it'd happen again, I would have either told their parents or (now that I'm at college) talked to the health center and made sure one of our school counselors knew what was going on.

I've actually been called a snitch for this attitude, which makes me laugh. I'd rather rat someone out to the "grown-ups" than watch another friend spiral hopelessly into depression. Or worse.
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« Reply #6: January 09, 2010, 10:59:27 am »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?

My religious view - we are the eyes and hands of the Divine.  If we don't do it - who will?

HOW it's done - method, caring, all that's very important.  Just intervening isn't the answer - it has to be the right way and for the right reasons.  Because you care, not because of moral righteousness, etc.

But .. if not us, then who?  If something must be done - it falls to us to do it.  And if someone's sick, why would you NOT want to help?  If addiction is sickness .. then isn't it our place to try to find a way to help heal, if we can?
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« Reply #7: January 09, 2010, 02:30:01 pm »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?
Personally, I'd feel obligated to mention it.  Telling them what you see isn't the same as forcing your will upon them.  The issue for me would be how to address it, rather than whether to. 

You could be just the right person because you struggle with alcoholism yourself. 
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« Reply #8: January 09, 2010, 08:50:00 pm »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?
I think if you have the oppourtunity to intervene with someones destructive behaviour you have not only the right but the responsibility to do so. I am not saying you should force your will on to people since it won't work anyway and may be unethical but helping, supporting and refusing to enable someone elses bad habits are different. We all have our own dragons to face and sometimes we need help to do so. Obviously every situation is different and a lot does depend on the relationship with the other person and their circumstances. Unfortunately these decisions are never easy as situations are complex and you need to balance how much different values mean to you.
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« Reply #9: January 10, 2010, 01:51:24 am »

So now I ask, what's everyone else's take on this kind of situation? Do you feel you have the right to step in or intervene if someone is an addict or alcoholic, or harming themselves in this way?

My husband and I are in a similar situation with one of his best friends. Cliff split up with his partner of 5 years just before I got married as she was seeing someone else (she was my bridesmaid, he was the best man and the guy she had been seeing for a year was in the grooms party, due to the fact he was also one of our friends). Since then he has been drinking very heavily, and as I got married 11 and a half years ago it has been going on for a long time. He has never gotten over her. Recently my husband decided that he had to intervene as he was frightened that he would soon lose Cliff because of what the drinking was doing to him. He went to see Cliff and spent 6 hours talking about the drinking and health issue. He did not say that Cliff must do anything, but they talked about the effects of the alcohol. Cliff has not stopped, but he has cut down a great deal. We would never try to live his life for him, but we are there to help and support him and Cliff is well aware of what we are trying to do. He has us there whenever he needs us and we are always there to help. That is the best we can do-make him aware of how his drinking is affecting him mentally and phisically and let him know that we are there for him.
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« Reply #10: January 11, 2010, 02:03:01 pm »



I think the most you can do is let the person know how you feel about what they are doing.  Strongly worded enough that they actually hear what you are saying.  Whether they act on it is their choice. 

My sister was diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis in her 30's.  She called me when she was drunk and I told her that if she was going to keep on drinking she should get her casket picked out and plan her funeral so the rest of us didn't have to.  She told me later I was the only person who would be straight with her like that - and I felt I was only venting.  BUT, while she finally dried/cleaned up for a while, she ended up on heroin, then the methadone program (one NGO after another so that she kept it up for 10 years or so) and then when they recently came out with a pill for the methadone/heroin addiction so she couldn't get the methadone anymore, she went back to alcohol and drugs.  So, for her, straight is not a place she has ever been happy in.  And because of the behaviors associated with her substance abuse problems, most of us won't have anything to do with her. 

Do I think I could have done more?  Not really, she has never wanted to face live clean and sober since she was 15.  I think what she really needs is to be under a psychiatrists care - but I have no clue how to force that.  And she has never seen anything wrong with herself  - not when CPS took her child, and not when APS took our father from her. 

I have washed my hands of her.  No one told her (we had no clue how to get a hold of her) when our father died.  She has made no effort (cleaning up, parenting classes) to get her child back (fortunately he is with his paternal grandmother - but my sister doesn't know this).  I didn't hear from her for a year - until she called between xmas and new year's - high as a kite.  I let it go to voicemail and didn't return the call.  She has made her choices, I do not have to condone or enable them.
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