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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Concerned Daughter," whose elderly mother is being prescribed narcotic medication.

The daughter indicates that the narcotics were prescribed for "aches and pains." Generally speaking, narcotics are not prescribed for general aches and pains. I've had 20 years' experience working alongside physicians and have never seen this happen. Narcotic medication is used to treat pain associated with cancer, injury or other serious pain conditions.

No one is able to feel another's pain. If "Concerned Daughter's" mother has a condition that requires strong medication, that is her physician's decision. I agree that it's important for the daughter to meet with the physician. There may be a condition that the daughter is unaware of. It may be that narcotic medication is the only treatment for the mother because of her age, poor surgical risk, etc.

Chronic, serious pain can have a debilitating effect on an individual, seriously impairing the quality of life. Patients with chronic pain should not be considered addicts simply because they are treated with narcotics. Addiction must be placed in proper perspective. Physical dependence and tolerance of drugs are not the same as addiction. Addiction is aberrant behavior and compulsive use of drugs for non-medical purposes.

Individuals who suffer pain should be viewed with compassion. -- EXPERIENCED IN PAIN

DEAR EXPERIENCED: No one should have to suffer pain when relief is available. However, since many seniors have difficulty monitoring their medications, they are at risk of not only addiction but serious drug interactions as well.

If a physician determines that a senior patient needs narcotic medication, it would be a kindness for a family member to stay involved to ensure the medication is taken as prescribed.

DEAR ABBY: In response to "Disgusted in Florida": My husband and I met and married in Florida 16 years ago. He, being single and in the Navy, had visited many nude beaches overseas throughout the years, so of course he tried to persuade me to go to a nudist club with him. My response was always, "No way!"

Two years ago, we were sent to Virginia, where he promptly found a nudist club. For some reason, I finally agreed to go with him. I was just like "Disgusted" -- I had assumed that people went to nudist clubs only to gawk at all the naked people. However, I figured I might as well go just once, so I could justify my feelings and prove to him that I was right.

Well, I was WRONG! I was surprised at the "non-reaction" the people there had. I was also sure that I would either catch him looking around or that I would be intimidated, but neither happened.

Persuading me to go took a lot of perseverance on my husband's part, and although I had determined that I was not the type to frequent such places, I am very happy that I went once. It became a valuable learning experience.

I guess this is a long way of saying, don't be so quick to judge before you try something. You may be pleasantly surprised! -- HAPPILY SURPRISED IN MINNESOTA

DEAR HAPPILY SURPRISED: Call me hung-up, narrow-minded, square or behind the times, but I would never be comfortable in a nudist colony. However, I wholeheartedly support the right of anyone with an opposing view to do as he or she wishes. (P.S. Hand me a towel, please.)

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