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judyprays's avatar

At what point is an intervention acceptable? Necessary?

Asked by judyprays (1304points) December 18th, 2008

a close friend is not in the best shape – he chain smokes, lives in literal filth, consumes alcohol constantly and hard drugs pretty regularly, barely can keep his job. he is still pleasant to be around and kind/considerate to a degree, but i know he has great potential that has yet to actually manifest itself. but then again he is only 24. am i being too square?
recently my best friend handed him a job that basically would pay him to do what he loves to do – and it would showcase his work to important people. how often does that happen? he committed to it and then flaked out last minute to do drugs with friends.
i get it – he’s young and this is brooklyn… but at some point i feel like it’s just not ok.
should i do something? what?

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24 Answers

augustlan's avatar

That’s a toughie. As long as he is in reasonable health, and is not a danger to himself or others I probably would have a talk with him, but not a full blown intervention. Now if it were my child, I might have a different answer.

Ducky's avatar

Call your local nircotics anonymus hotline and ask

emilyrose's avatar

You are NOT being too square….. this sounds like its beyond normal twenties partying. I am in my 20s if that means anything. I am not some behind the times granny. Not sure there is anything you can do though…......

breedmitch's avatar

Don’t forget that an intervention ends with only two possible outcomes: the person either agrees to get help or those that confront him cut him out of their lives. If you’re not at the point of ending your friendship, then an intervention really isn’t best. Perhaps some friendly advice might better fit the bill. If, however you are ready to let go of this person, then by all means intervene, but seek the help of a professional.
Good luck, and sorry you have to go through this.

skfinkel's avatar

It sounds like this guy is in really sorry shape. I always think it is easy to blame the obvious, but the layer below, what he is hiding from and running from, is what has to be aired. Of course, he is the only one who can do that, but maybe you can suggest that he get help to be able to figure it all out and move out from under his huge weight, and begin to really live his life fully.

But I also know that there are so many people who never do this. And they are having the same issues at 50 as they had at 20. It just will be there until he figures it out.

Trustinglife's avatar

Judy, have you ever done the Landmark Forum? It’s the most ass-kicking seminar I’ve ever taken. It’s three days, and many, many people have turned their life around by taking it. It’s for functioning adults, and it sounds like that basically fits for him (what I mean is it doesn’t sound like he has a mental illness). If he took the course, it’d be a chance for him to take a hard look at his life and discover what he really wants. You could try it out yourself, or recommend that he check it out. They have free intros all the time, too. Landmark has offices in nearly every city.

My own experience with it: Landmark totally rocked my world when I first took it. I really saw how much power I had to shape my own experience, and to have more authentic relationships. I loved it. I then spent 2+ years of my life going as deep as I could with it, taking nearly all their courses. By the end I was burnt out with it, and glad to move on to other things. I now recommend it occasionally. Especially when someone wants a good ass-kicking, in the direction of whatever it is they want. It’s one possibility.

@emily, you might want to be careful about talking about “behind the times grannies” around here.

cdwccrn's avatar

You will likely be unsuccesseful in helping this friend until he REALLY hits bottom and WANTS to help himself.
In the meantime, do NOT give him money. Give him care and a listening ear, and take care to set and maintain your own healthy boundaries.

Trustinglife's avatar

I think that’s true sometimes, cdwccm, but then again, you never know. Sometimes an innocent suggestion at the right time works wonders. And we can’t know what HIS rock bottom is. Maybe he just hit it, and is ready for help?

basp's avatar

At 24 he is old enough to take responsibility for himself. That he blew off a good opportunity to go play with friends is unacceptable at his age.
He needs to be told to shape up or ship out.

susanc's avatar

This behind-the-times granny agrees with cdwccrn – for all the good reasons other people on this thread have given – do NOT give him money (not that you suggested you might).
And sit in on some Al-Anon meetings. (I always say this.) They’ll help keep YOU sane and clear. The conversations you have with him will be less confusing to you and less easy-to-dismiss for him.
I’d suggest trying out a number of Al-Anon groups, if your community has more than one option. Getting sane-and-clear is the motivation; people go to these meetings who aren’t there yet, and they can be painful to listen to. (And instructive….)

emilyrose's avatar

@trusting, thought i might get busted for that

Mizuki's avatar

sounds like fear of failure—this often makes folks self sabotage (sp).

tiggersmom's avatar

I would most definitely talk to him about this. He might think that he is having a great time now, but in the long run, he will be paying for it. My husband almost died from something called pancreatitis, and luckily recovered from it. This comes from heavy drinking, and many times, people don’t recover from it. The drugs are all to easy to overdose on, and this will happen usually within minutes of taking the drugs, or when the person passes out.
Intervention isn’t always the answer for some people, as after rehab, they return to doing the same thing over and over again. What someone needs when there is intervention is a lifestyle change, and removal of the former friends. They have a tendency to try to encourage you to go ahead and have some.
They need something more than just getting rid of the friends, they need to learn new habits that will help to discourage a return to the previous problem. This is the hard part.Some people use the power of prayer and belief, while others find another outlet, like painting, a new type of career, and other things. I really hope that you can talk your friend into saving his own life, because all are worthy of saving in one way or another. Hope this helps, and best of luck to you both.

nebule's avatar

Can i ask… has something happened to send him this way? Or is he just having fun? Is depressed and therefore using drink and drugs to cover up emotions or just having fun like i say? I don’t know…but i think that if someone is living in pretty poor conditions then it means that they mustn’t have much respect for themselves and there must be a reason why he feels like this.

I think you should intervene if its got to the point that he is turning away fantastic opportunities like the one you’ve mentioned above…this sounds just way too self destructive and i think that in the end he might tell you to butt out now, but then he might also turn around in years to come and thank you for stopping him from ruining his life completely….

Trustinglife's avatar

Judy, any update? Did you decide on what you wanted to do?

judyprays's avatar

update—>
i told him that i’m really concerned and a major change needs to happen.
he completely agreed and i think there is hope for progress.
he is in our home town now with our mutual friends.
my best friend is going to give him a strict talking to, and i’m going to make him clean up his room (which is literally rotting with filth) – hopefully his life will come next.
optimistic!
thanks fluther!

Trustinglife's avatar

Thanks for the update. I’m heartened and hopeful that your friends’ talking-to, and your help cleaning, will help him. I feel nerdy asking, but I’m still curious… so if you want, feel free to update again after these things happen!

augustlan's avatar

I second that request. Good work, Judy!

judyprays's avatar

wow you guys are extraordinary.

he came back home and reality hit. my best friend has not gotten around to talking him and I didn’t have the heart to chastise him about his room. he said it was so stressful to be home that he thinks he’s getting shingles!! even i can’t insist a tired, confused man of filth spend his new years eve cleaning his shit hole.

his sister told me that at home he would constantly walk a mile from the house, smoke a cigerette, then come home and immediately change.

i know his family, and my guess is it was only stressful because he was trying to put on a happy, healthy face for his loving parents – and i think it’s incredibly frustrating and stressful to hide your problems from the people that care.

he’s a kind soul, and pretty aware of his problems – i think he just doesn’t know how to help himself or how to ask for help. i offer and he constantly denies – and it’s not at a point where i can just insist. also, i have my own life to take care of, and there’s only so much energy i can devote.

but he did tell me that last new years he made a resolution to be more of a ladies man, which is why he spent most of this year in bars. he said this year, he has resolved to settle down and get more productive.

i plan on instituting roommate dinners and creativity nights, to foster both more communication and a positive, structured environment for him to be productive in. we’ll see…

i’m feeling positive change is on it’s way – maybe just not on the express train.

thanks for caring!
ps – @trustinglife Nerdy and Kind are confused all too much. i really appreciate the inquiry….

judyprays's avatar

(ps – i don’t know if i mentioned this but he is my roommate)

augustlan's avatar

Sounds like you’re doing a good job of keeping things in perspective and balanced. Since he’s your room-mate, I can certainly understand how this affects not only him, but you as well. Providing a positive environment sounds like a great idea. Please do keep us posted :)

Trustinglife's avatar

@Judy, wow, didn’t realize he’s your roommate. Yes, you really are doing a great job of keeping things in perspective, as Aug just said.

I hear that you want to help him. And I’m hearing that you are tempering that with acceptance. As you know, the key to helping someone change is for them to feel already loved/cared about. That’s what I got from your saying that you didn’t have the heart to chastise him about his room on NYE, and other things. I hear that you care.

I wonder if there are any parts of your sharing a living space together that brings up your own issues? From what you’re saying, it doesn’t sound like it’s as much that, as your just simply caring about him and wanting to help him make his life better.

Here’s a thought. Sit him down and say something like this:

“I’m going to be really straight with you here. I care about you. I want your life to be better. I have my own life, too, of course, but I have energy to give in terms of helping you clean up your room, and anything else you might want support with. You might be embarrassed to receive my help. I don’t care. I’ll respect it if you really are saying no thanks, but I really want to make a difference in your life. How can I best support you?”

Ria777's avatar

a little warning on Landmark. it can also suck you up and make you a Forum junky. I have seen it happen.

beachwriter's avatar

He’s lucky to have a kind and loving friend like you. But you can’t make him better. HE can, though. Help is one meeting away. See www.aa.org and click on “How to find AA meetings” and type in your zip code. Maybe offer to drive him there, or attend the first meeting with him.

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