Drug Issues in Mediation

September 22, 2012 · Filed Under Mediation - General · Comment 

In the 1940s your grandparents were singing along with Peggy Lee the still popular lyrics, “I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I don’t know enough about you. The coda to that song describes mediators:

I know a bit about biology, A little more about psychology, I’m a little gem in geology,But, I don’t know…etc.

One of the features of a really good mediator is an ability to bring wide ranging bits of information together in order to get to know enough about a mediation client very quickly. In order to pierce the body armor of the self-absorbed litigants and ask the questions needed to get to their real interests it takes a little time and a lot of human understanding. That is why we tend to know a little bit about a lot of things.

Drug issues may arise in a variety of different civil disputes such as employment, trust estates, and partnership cases among others. There is a good deal of misinformation abroad about drug abuse, addiction and drug treatment that can taint the attitudes of both the clients and the mediator.

Let’s consider a scenario. Dan and Jim formed a partnership a few years ago for the sales of computer chips custom configured for use in customer new product designs. Each headed a staff of representatives for whom they provided engineering backup and support. In recent months there had been a number of complaints about delays and miscommunications by customers of Dan’s team. Dan was in complete denial, but Jim learned from some of his reps that Dans group had grown dispirited and believed that Dan was using cocaine or methamphetamine or both. Through a series of investigative steps this was confirmed and Dan Finally admitted he had been using, but was sure he could and would correct his behavior. Still he eventually agreed to a psychiatric assessment when Jim threatened a dissolution action. The report concluded that Dan had a “drug abuse disorder”. Now Jim was even more upset and demanded that Dan agree to a buyout. Dan refused and mediation was commenced in accord with their partnership agreement. You are the mediator.

Do you know what a drug abuse disorder is? Can you distinguish it from a drug dependence disorder? Do you believe as Jim did that no one recovers fom addiction to methamphetamine? Do you believe as Dan does that all he needs to do is join a narcotics anonymous group for treatment? What facts contained in the psychiatric report would you be looking for as likely helpful? What provisions might be best included in a settlement agreement that would allow Dan to stay on board?

In my next post on this topic I will offer some answers to these questions. How much trouble is Dan in? Hint: Among the myths about mehtamphetamine addiction is that only 6% will achieve sobriety. Studies in four different states have shown substantial periods of sobriety following treatment for 65% to 88% of meth patients. The picture is not as bleak as often thought.

I am well along in the writing of a book on the topic of our counterproductive national drug policy and a workable plan to change it. Needless to say (but I willl say it anyway) I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about drug abuse and treatment and look forward on this site and a separate blog site which I am developing to sharing with my colleagues a useful array of facts and insights on drug related topics.

As for the song: today Diana Krall does a dynamite rendition.