A professor at the University of Houston-Victoria pleaded guilty back in December to helping a synthetic marijuana drug ring transfer $200,000 out of the country. His lawyer’s characterization of the act as a “favor for an acquaintance” did nothing to distance the man from the crime. He was sentenced to a year in federal prison by a Houston judge this month.
This case stands as fair warning to friends and family members of people who are living in addiction and/or selling drugs for any reason. It demonstrates that even if you do not necessarily condone the choices of someone in your home, it does not mean that you will be able to avoid the legal consequences if you are caught up in someone else’s choices.
That is, if someone who is living with you is caught with illicit substances in your home, you are potentially liable for those substances as well. If someone gets high or drinks at your home and leaves and gets into an accident or otherwise is harmed or harms someone else, in some states, you may be partially liable – especially if that person is underage. If someone is getting high in your home – especially on a drug like marijuana that produces heavy smoke – and your children are in the home and exposed to those substances, you can lose custody of your children even if you do not use the drugs.
Non-participation or a claim that you were unaware of someone’s activities or how your activities would impact others is no defense. As the Houston professor found out, we are all responsible for our own choices and choosing to help someone who is engaging in illegal drug-related activities can end badly no matter what the intent.
Most family members living with a loved one who is struggling with addiction would be shocked and in some cases angered at the implication that they would do anything to perpetuate their loved one’s use of substances. Unfortunately, enabling behaviors of family members are exceptionally common and often inadvertent. That is, family members and friends who are trying to help their addicted loved one manage the ups and downs of addiction may think they are helping when they give them money, provide them with other things they need, or help them out of a jam caused by their drug use. However, buffering someone from the consequences of ongoing drug use or in any way making it easier for them to focus on nothing but maintaining their addiction will serve only to help them keep drinking and getting high.
This can be a startling realization. To find out that helping your loved one with money for groceries, providing them with a place to stay, or covering for them at work in any way may have potentially allowed them to continue in active addiction can be extremely upsetting. The good news is that you have the ability to create positive change going forward. You can make different choices that will empower your loved one’s ability to connect with treatment and begin to live a life that does not include drug and alcohol use.
An Honest Conversation
The best way to get the ball rolling and help your loved one to recognize their need for treatment – and the fact that you are committed to making some definitive changes going forward – is to stage an intervention with the goal of helping them to begin treatment immediately. With the assistance of a professional interventionist and the support of a few other family members who feel similarly, this can be the first step toward helping the whole family begin the healing process.
It is important to note that an intervention not only signals the beginning of healing for your loved one but for you and the rest of your family as well. Addiction is a disorder that impacts everyone involved, and whether or not your loved one enrolls in addiction treatment, you and the rest of your family can learn more about how to avoid enabling behaviors that can further destroy your lives and start living with healthy, balanced intentions.
Are you ready to take the first step toward helping your family overcome addiction and start the discussion about treatment today?