August 25 , 2004
Loyalty doesn't rule out confrontation
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
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, www.drugabuse.gov/Infofax/marijuana.html.
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.