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Husband Gives Up Smoking, but His Drinking Persists

DEAR ABBY: I am married to a great guy. We've been together 27 years, so I know him well. He recently stopped smoking after 30 years of nicotine addiction. He did it cold turkey, and he's been smoke-free for three months now. I'm proud of him and tell him so.

The problem is, when he drinks he gets drunk -- which I'm used to -- but then he starts saying (sometimes belligerently) that he wants a cigarette badly. I don't know how to respond to this. I continue praising him for quitting and point out the health benefits that are already obvious -- his breathing, returned senses, etc. -- but it's getting old.

Should I continue to say helpful things or just ignore him when he's drunk? -- DUMBFOUNDED IN DALLAS

DEAR DUMBFOUNDED: Try this. Tell him calmly that his craving for a cigarette is normal, particularly if he used to smoke while consuming alcohol. Reassure him that with time the craving will lessen, and continue to reinforce that he did himself a huge favor by mustering up the willpower to quit. Tell him you know it wasn't easy and that the longer he resists the urge for a nicotine fix, the easier it will be for him to stay smoke-free.

The fact that he becomes "belligerent" when he drinks should be a sign to you that he probably shouldn't be drinking either. Instead of keeping him company when he's in his cups, consider leaving to attend an Al-Anon meeting. It's a supportive organization created for friends and family members who are affected by a loved one's alcohol consumption. It isn't difficult to find a meeting. Just go to al-anon.org.

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