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Drunk man sleeping in park on wooden bench

The Consequences Of Choosing Not To Help

There are many times at Valley Recovery Center where we receive calls from people who are addicted and in need. Then, there are other times (a good portion, in fact) where the call comes from a close friend or family member. In those scenarios, we like to think of the advocates as true heroes. People who are doing the right thing and putting their necks on the line to help someone they care about. But what about those from the inner circle who do nothing?

The sad matter is, there are a great deal of family and friends who choose to turn the other way when a loved one is struggling. Sometimes, it can be from a pure state of selfishness and “not wanting to get involved.” But the truth of the matter is, taking no action can actually have legal consequences.

One recent story that brought this topic to our attention came from a local NBC affiliate in New York. In this case, a group went out drinking with a friend who had suffered from alcoholism. After a hard night out, three of the men decided to leave their heavily inebriated friend on the front lawn of his grandmother’s house.

Tragically, that man ended up dying. But what was interesting about this scenario was that his death led to negligent homicide charges against the other friends from the group that night. And ultimately, they all received a six month prison sentence.

The man who died, 19-year-old Liam McGlinchey, had a history of intoxication and certainly shouldn’t have been left unconscious under a tree on a lawn. His mother, Helen Savastio, echoed that fact and spoke out against the defendants in court.

“I just don’t understand why no one called 9-1-1,” Savastio explained. “Although my son’s alcohol level was extremely high, had he gotten help he would have had a chance to survive. But by leaving him under my mother’s tree they left him with no chances. Kids need to wake up and realize that it is not OK to leave someone to die.”

Obviously, this is an extreme case. But it does illustrate that ignoring people suffering from severe alcoholism or perhaps a drug addiction can have bigger repercussions than you may realize.

Though it may be hard and though you may feel it is not your place to help, we strongly encourage looking out for addicts within your circle. As illustrated in the story above, one phone call can most definitely save a life.