Integrity Matters
August 25 , 2004

Loyalty doesn't rule out confrontation

Question: (E-132)

Dear Jim:

A group of my buddies smoke marijuana on a regular basis. They do not leave the garage where my friend lives while high, so they only do harm to themselves and thankfully not others. I want to help them because I know they are doing themselves harm and breaking the law, but at the same time I don't want to violate their trust. Is there anyway I can help them without breaking the loyalty of friendship?


Former Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson has defined loyalty as follows: "Loyalty is not always saying yes to me. In fact, it may mean saying harsh things to me. But disloyalty is ever saying anything negative about me to anyone else." Whether you agree with his definition or not, one truth is evident. Friends are defined by the integrity of their relationship. Even the adult-beverage commercials remind us that "friends don't let friends drive drunk."

Not wanting to offer inadequate counsel to your question, I sought the advice of a recently retired chief of police. His response was clear: The effects of marijuana use on the brain, heart, lungs and social behavior are negative. So, how much do you care about your friends? Before determining what you should do with reference to confronting them about their marijuana use, please study the findings posted on the Web site of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse,

What you will learn is that marijuana use, with reference to the brain, a critically important organ, decreases memory and learning abilities and distorts perception. It reduces coordination and alters activity of dopamine neurons that are responsible in regulation of motivation and reward. Marijuana numbs the individual.

Marijuana accelerates heart rate, raises blood pressure and raises the chances of heart attack by 400 percent within one hour of smoking. Regarding damage to the lungs, consider this: heightened risk of lung infections, increased tendency to have obstructed airways and the greater likelihood of throat, lung or mouth cancer.

Additional research from the National Institutes of Health also found that marijuana may cause depression, anxiety and a lack of motivation. Studies have shown that habitual marijuana use causes students to have lower grades that could be related to their impaired attention and memory.

So, what should you do? Your answers to these questions may help you decide: Are you willing to jeopardize your "popularity" with your buddies and tell them of your concerns about their own personal health risks?

Will you be comfortable with your own conscience if you elect not to confront your buddies, and they wander from their current smoking center and injure others with an automobile?

Now that you have well-researched information -- literally at your fingertips -- that could help these friends look at their priorities and their behaviors differently, how can you not share it with them?

Integrity-centered relationships present the truth to friends, compassionately, even when it hurts.

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