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Your How To Source: Issues of Value, Ethics, Human Needs and Deeds       Edited by Heinz Dinter, PhD

Fighting alcoholism and other vultures (2006-09-14)

CLICK TO ENLARGEThis is a story of despair in pursuit of three objectives driven by hope:

· Awaken the one suffering and give her strength to help herself.

· Warn others who are at the brink of becoming enslaved to the life-destroying villain — alcohol.

· Expose the vultures who feast on the ill — the elderly and infirm.


How true, practical and fair is the following? “You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone.” It's supposedly an awakening call for the one who's facing demise.

It is downright the proclamation of a death sentence if the one who’s suffering from the ugliness of demise is neither physically nor mentally capable to make that prudent, life-saving decision. How can you expect someone with his hands tied behind his back shake your hand? That sufferer needs help.

Who are the ones that come to the sufferer's aid? Who are the ones that will place family values or friendship ahead of selfishness, avarice, or "I don't want to get involved"?

It was a sunny day — typical for a Florida mid-summer Wednesday afternoon. I was headed south on US 1, passing the University of Miami. Traffic was bumper to bumper but, fortunately, moving swiftly.

CLICK TO ENLARGEMy right foot jammed on the brake pedal instinctively, not realizing my action could cause a pile-up. There, just feet from where the front of my car came to rest were two little doggies, Cocker Spaniels. One was lying there lifeless, hugging the white stripe warning from the cold asphalt separating the center lane from that on the right. And that’s the scene solidly impregnated in my memory after nearly two years aside from the sight of the poor animal having suffered the deadly hit: The victim’s companion, who looked at me with pleading and such sad eyes, unwilling to move from the deadly-struck companion. He is my hero because he didn't abandon a kin and friend.

Why am I telling you this story? It’s those pleading eyes, the devotion to a kin, and the true friendship of the Cocker Spaniel who would not leave his companion’s side and braved the insurmountable dangers of the roadway — that’s why. It’s only an animal, we say. That pooch, however, confirmed what family commitment, friendship, love, compassion and duty for those in need is all about.

Now let me tell you about you — yes, YOU — and Julie (I changed her name because to her privacy is more important than saving her own life). We commingled as “friends” whilst life was good, without dark clouds, with days of pleasurable encounters, and without the hardships of facing complications and responsibilities.

Then Julie's life spun out of control; she did not do it on purpose. Two and three bottles of wine a day, sometimes more, left this beautiful human being vulnerable — vulnerable to an ugly, painful death; vulnerable to the greed of family, and vulnerable to the avarice of those hired to serve her. Julie found herself at the mercy of persons of a rapacious nature.

The perils of DUI apprehension, coupled with an unavoidable night in jail, cirrhosis of the liver or worse, killing innocent people on the road, are known to all. Who cared? Who stepped forward to protect Julie from these dangers? No one! Not even those who are kin and not those who once used "friend" as an identifier.

Let me address Julie's family: "Why did you drag your feet and did not rush to her aid whilst you knew that time is of the essence? You knew that every additional day in which Julie drowned her senses and body in health-destroying, excessive volumes of alcohol would speed up the arrival of irreversible illness."

Not even the words of a friend to whom Julie often turned for advice would bombinate about the family's conscience:

Without “Baker Acting” her I don’t see much point in destroying her or ourselves. She did not benefit from that which she has attended, and apparently will not or cannot help herself. Bottles of wine a day destroy brain cells, Julie is in a downward spiral. Left to her own devices she will eventually wind up hurting herself or others. Bringing her alcoholic drinks is only enabling the worst kind of behavior and preventing any hope of recovery. Friends don’t do that; for her sake she needs to totally dry out and be in a rehab program NOW.

Let me address Julie’s friends: “You continue to do nothing (aside from inquiring from time to time how Julie is) and you may soon, very soon, face the opportunity to visit Julie in the hospital. The odds are in favor of the intensive care ward.

In the meantime, other abhorrent acts are committed that contribute to Julie’s misery now and, should she be lucky enough to survive, those material things needed for a life of contentment and peace of mind may then no longer be there for her. They will be spirited away and in the hands of others. What others?

First and foremost, there's the family member who accepted to take care of Julie and who knows Julie’s Last Will and Testament places him first in line. And then there is the maid who is paid handsomely to handle Julie’s housekeeping chores, but whose cunning made her a confidant with access to Julie’s possessions, including the monies in her bank account and other personal property. And then there are her precious pets — her affectionate companions who share Julie's loneliness. Will the promise of caring for Julie’s beloved pets in the future protect the welfare of Julie’s sole and tenderly cared for four-legged family?

Here’s a twister: The family member who — living more than a stone's throw away and pursuing his career in a distant city — eagerly and without hesitation accepted the responsibility of taking care of Julie and save her life, gave the hired maid carte blanche.

Are we observing here a conspiracy festering on, “Let’s get it over with now. Why wait?”

Should I not be committed — by my conscience — to address the following to Julie’s family?

As you know, I have thoroughly documented the details of your conduct relating to your actions and non-actions pertaining to your family member whose well-being you accepted to protect. As you well know, your aunt is very ill, rendering her incapable of making prudent decisions regarding her welfare and management of her affairs and physical assets.

My conscience no longer tolerates my waiting for efforts on your part to do what is right to save your aunt — a human being who is the subject of the shameful, criminal exploitation of the elderly and infirm.

Let my pleas for help engage a source of impeccable credentials and powerful motivation — ready to help the one who suffers and ready to help  family and friends who want to help: The Al-Anon Twelve Steps.

Julie, You MUST do it. You must save your health, your life. You can do it with help. But who is there to help?


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