William M. Vander Weyde (American, 1871–1929), "Ocean Liner, SS St Paul" (c. 1900), from the George Eastman House Collection

This is not a post about addiction. This is a post about love.

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"in·ter·vene (ntr-vn)"

1. To come, appear, or lie between two things:

The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew the way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.

2. To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development:

Every gardener faces choices about how and how much to intervene in nature's processes.**

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Here's something I'm doing these days that I'd really rather not be involved in: helping to plan an intervention for a friend who's addicted to narcotics.

An intervention is

a specific process designed to break through denial on the part of persons with serious addictive disorders. Interventions . . . involve carefully orchestrated confrontations in which friends [and] family members confront the person with the negative impact and consequences of his or her addiction. The goal of an intervention is to bring the addicted person to acknowledge that he or she suffers from a disorder and [to] agree to treatment. This goal, however, is not always realized.

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Why, you ask, don't I want to be planning an intervention?

Well, it's horrible to face the truth that a woman I love like my sister, a friend I've known since my very first day of college 31 years ago, is a junkie.

It's horrible to face the truth that my friend, a talented, dedicated and highly trained professional, is trashing her career.

It's horrible to face the truth that my friend cannot end her relationship with a man who: trades the drugs she gives him for pot and deals that instead, since he makes more money that way; has sex with a variety of other women and refuses to use a condom; and who recently gifted her with an STD.

It's horrible to face the truth that my friend, whom I would have trusted with my life, has lied to me over and over and over and over again for years.

I want to believe her. I want to believe that she's not risking her career, her reputation, her health, her freedom, her life. (A recent study indicated that, even after treatment, addict death rates are between three and 14 times higher than those in the general US population.)

But I know about addictions. Helping others get help for addictions is part of my job.

I know that we are doing the right thing. I know that we are doing the only thing there is to do.

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I'm not in this alone. Three of us are planning the intervention. Let's call us the four of us Amy, Beth, Jo and Meg. We all met on that first day of college. I, Amy, lived next door to Jo; Beth and Meg lived across the hall.

I know, because we love our friend, that we don't have a choice: even with the few details we have about her life right now, we have an obligation to be tough, to not enable her by giving her advice or by comforting her about her myriad real problems, to refuse to believe anything she says, and to take the risk that she'll hate us and that we'll fail anyway.

This morning, Jo wrote:

I’m not worried about being hated, I’m worried about failure.

I thought about how to respond. The only thing I could come up with was a quote from Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism:

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.

You gotta give it up for Buddhism. Whenever I don't know what to do, I google:

[insert problem, e.g. "failure"] quotation buddha

It works a lot better than the Magic 8 Ball, seriously.

It helps.

So I guess loving someone means doing the best you know how to do. Sometimes it's really unbelievably hard, though.

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*Ella Wheeler Wilcox, American poet (1850-1919)
**Dora Galitzki, former garden columnist for The New York Times


Joanna said...

Intervention services do not always end up successful, but they do have a high success rate of at least 85%. As such, each member of the intervention group is provided with drug intervention training to prep

Edward said...

A drug and alcoholism intervention is an attempt by family members and friends to help a chemically dependent person get help for his or her addiction.

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