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by Abigail Van Buren

Drunken Husband Gave Wife a Life Full of Harsh Lessons

DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, I received a personal letter from you in response to my frantic plea asking how to handle my alcoholic husband. You became my special friend. When my mother died, you called me at home. I will never forget that. Now I want to give something back; it's some advice to your readers from my own experience.

In a recent column, a John C. Seaman, referring to his personal experience with alcohol and drug abuse, said, "I recommend intervention to anyone who is frustrated by another person's drinking or using. You don't have to wait for someone to 'hit bottom,' which could ultimately be death." Those words hit close to home!

My husband's alcoholism ultimately led, although indirectly, to his death. For 12 years I tried to help him, and finally we agreed that he should enter an alcohol and drug abuse program in an area hospital. Six weeks after his release, he resumed drinking. I tried "tough love" and moved him out of our house, saying he could return when he got back on the program and quit drinking.

Well, he wasn't strong enough to quit drinking, nor was he strong enough to fight off the killer who knifed him to death in his motel apartment. It happened in the early hours of April 10, 1991. A drug-crazed man forced his way into my husband's apartment and stabbed him 14 times, then stuffed him into a closet!

Now I have to live with the fact that I let him down. I failed him. It is too late for intervention. So, Abby, please tell your readers to keep trying! Keep trying to rehabilitate your alcoholic or user. Where there is life, there is, at least, hope.

After death, you will want them back so badly, drunk or high, but alive! I, too, recommend intervention along with Mr. Seaman, not out of professional knowledge -- but from harsh life experience.

Call a treatment center, as he suggests. Please do not give up!

Kindest regards to you, Abby, and love to all of your readers. You may print my name. -- DIANE SMITH

DEAR DIANE: Please accept my condolences on the tragic death of your husband. For those readers who may have missed it, the 24-hour helpline of the McDonald Center for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Treatment at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., is: 1 (619) 458-4357. That call could be a lifesaver.

DEAR ABBY: Our son, who is 21 years old, is basically a fine person and he is usually very reasonable. He has a new girlfriend and she has been "sleeping over." Our son lives in our garage, which we have fixed up comfortably. He needed his privacy, and we needed peace and quiet. He feels that since he is in a separate area, it is OK to have his girlfriend sleep over, even though it goes against our values.

We have set certain rules for him and feel that as long as he is living in our house, he should discontinue this sleeping arrangement. He has always abided by our rules, but thinks we are off base on this.

What do you think? -- LOVER BOY'S MOM

DEAR MOM: I think as long as your son is living in your house, he should abide by your rules.

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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