What does it mean to betray a friend? Betrayal usually involves the breaking of a sacred trust between two people. It is often a feeling of abandonment and isolation. It is the fracture of the truth line shared by two people who say they care for each other.
Betrayal is also referred to as "ratting out" another when you are on the spot. It is an attempt to blur the truth so that you might be exonerated.
When is "ratting out" not an act of betrayal but an indication of real friendship?
AJ and KT have been friends for years. They met in high school and became fast friends. They played football together and even went to the senior prom with their dates in the same limo. After high school both young men went their separate ways, but stayed friends. At Thanksgiving and Christmas they would connect. During the rest of the year they would write and e-mail each other.
A few years passed and both young men moved back home. Living with their parents was not working out, so they decided to rent a house with a group of buddies. All of these young men were going back to school to finish college degrees. Therefore, they all felt the environment would be more conducive for studying.
AJ and KT were great housemates. They even became roommates. The other four guys were equally compatible.
As the months passed, the drinking on the weekends increased. After everyone was pretty buzzed, one of the guys would pull out the mirrors, straws and razors and do lines of coke. Needless to say, everyone was vulnerable because of the drinking and became more open to trying this.
Initially, AJ and KT said no. However, with some intense pressure from one of their housemates, they gave in and tried it. They liked the experience. So the next time around (which was two weeks later) they did not have to be pressured at all to participate.
When they were straight, AJ and KT would talk as friends. They would express concern that they were putting their lives on the line. Besides the health risks, they were running the risk of getting busted by the police. Each time they had these kinds of conversations, they agreed to stop, but they didn't. They only got deeper into the use.
One night during Thanksgiving break, AJ and KT were out partying together. They hooked up with a group of other former high school friends and got really coked up. AJ got really sick. He swore he wouldn't snort again. He begged KT to stop or at least support his abstinence. KT said he would support AJ, and he did. He also indicated that he was quitting, but he did not.
Initially, unbeknownst to AJ, KT started branching out and experimenting with other street drugs. He started using a variety of prescribed medications that were readily available and very cheap. For a while, he was hooked on "oxycotin" (that drug is dangerous and potentially lethal).
During Christmas break, everyone was gathering. It was like old home week. High school friends and acquaintances had come in from all over the country this year. Many were finished with school and were already established in their careers. AJ and KT were on the five-year plan and had another semester to complete before graduating.
As a group, they were wild. They went from one local bar to another, raising Kane, talking about old times and getting high. The alcohol was flowing like water. So were the drugs.
A couple of guys who were living out of town shared some heroin. They were snorting it. AJ and KT were reluctant to try. The peer pressure of the evening pushed them into trying it. AJ hated it. KT loved it. Neither friend ever talked about it or that night again.
The months passed and these two friends drifted apart. They remained roommates but started socializing separately. AJ felt KT was drinking too much and then always wanted to do more. AJ was cutting back because graduation was approaching and the reality of having to get a real job was consuming all his energy.
KT was also preparing for graduation, but was not that energized about finding a career path or full time employment. He was more energized about partying and getting high.
He was losing weight, sleeping less and becoming very hyper. AJ asked him a number of times if he was okay. Each time, KT shot back a snide response, so AJ backed off. However, he knew his friend was up to no good.
A number of mutual friends approached AJ and said they too were worried about KT. They saw him engaged in what they felt was reckless and dangerous behavior. He continued to do heroin after Christmas break, only now he was no longer snorting it, he was shooting up.
AJ confronted KT immediately. He vehemently denied shooting up. He only admitted to occasionally snorting. That confrontation created a real emotional distance between these two roommates who were best friends.
The ethical dilemma: what does a best friend do when his best friend is engaged in reckless behavior? Do you fracture the trust and "rat him out" to save his life?
In the name of true friendship, you "rat him out" to save his life. Your silence, in the name of friendship, is going to kill him. AJ struggled with what to do. He really felt that going to his parents or any other authority would be a betrayal of friendship.
Another few months passed. AJ was coming in late on a Friday night. He opened his bedroom door and found KT passed out on the floor with a needle in his arm. He had overdosed that night, but had not died. Presently, he is in a rehab. He is fortunate not to be dead.
What will become of these two best friends? Did AJ betray his friend by not acting sooner?