Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Lessons in Addiction Are Part of Co Ed's Education

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 21-year-old college student with a lot of ambitions. I don't smoke, drink or use any drugs. My boyfriend, "John," is 18. We've been together for 2 1/2 years and are very happy. We plan to be married someday. He's my best friend.

The problem is that he smokes pot almost daily, and he drinks occasionally, too. I knew he did this when we got together. In fact, I did it too, but I stopped. This really bothers me because he often puts me second to going out to party with his friends.

When I talk to him about it, John thinks I'm overreacting. I also worry about him because his father is an alcoholic, even though John didn't grow up in that environment and swears he won't screw up his life like his father did. I am beginning to wonder how much control he has over his lifestyle.

I'm very much in love with John and want to spend the rest of my life with him. Do you think this is just a phase that he'll grow out of? I don't know what to do. Please help me. -- SAD IN NEW YORK

DEAR SAD: The fact that your boyfriend prefers to party with his friends rather than go out with you speaks volumes. It says that he cares more about his friends and his drugs than he does you, and indicates how immature he is.

Although he does not intend for his drinking to get out of hand, because he is the child of an alcoholic, there is a good chance that it could before he realizes it. And if it does, he will undoubtedly try to rationalize his usage so that he can continue with his addiction.

Some say that marijuana is not addictive. But if it's not, then why do so many people continue using it long after they should have stopped? When it's used daily, pot affects judgment, short-term memory and the ability to concentrate.

Before you make a lifetime commitment to John, I urge you to learn all you can about drug and alcohol addiction. It could save you a world of heartache. Call the CSAP hotline (the Center for Substance Abuse) at 1-800-662-4357 for information about drug and alcohol addiction and/or referral to your local help agency.