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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please tell "Mike," the young man who told his friend's parents about their son's drug use, that he did the right thing. May God bless him for it.

When our son was 16, two of his friends told us about his drinking. We tried for three years to get him to stop, but he continued and went on to hard drugs. We were always grateful to those young men, even though we were unsuccessful in getting our son clean. Tell Mike that he did everything he could, and now it's up to the parents to do their part.

I encounter parents all the time who can't accept the fact that their child could be a "user." My son was a functional addict, so getting him to realize his problem became impossible. We kept trying but we failed.

I'm enclosing a letter our son wrote in 1989 to the high school students in our town. In 1990, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. -- JUDITH P. IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR JUDITH P.: Thank you for allowing me to share your son's letter with my readers. I hope his experience will provide a warning to others. Read on:

"My name is Daniel. I celebrated my 20th birthday in the Los Angeles County Jail. I've been here for the past nine months awaiting trial. I have been charged with robbery and murder. If I'm found guilty, I could be sentenced to life without parole, but that's not why I'm writing to you. I'm writing to talk about drug abuse. I'm a recovering addict. Just because I'm in jail doesn't mean I can't get drugs. DRUGS ARE EVERYWHERE.

"I started drinking on weekends with my friends. As my friends started experimenting with drugs, I thought, 'Why not?' I had this attitude, 'It's not going to hurt me. I won't get addicted.' You can't understand the control drugs have over you unless you have an addiction. Now that I'm clean, I see the power that drugs had over my life.

"I read someplace that two out of five people who try drugs become addicted. I think it's much higher than that. When people told me that alcohol and marijuana would lead to harder drugs, I just laughed. I started smoking weed in 10th grade, and in the 11th grade I did everything from sniffing glue to LSD. A few months before graduation, I dropped out of school. I was working and having a good time; that was all that mattered. I never thought about the future. I didn't realize that the decisions I was making in high school would affect the rest of my life.

"If you become addicted you will have a crippled future, if you even have one. You could be one of the lucky ones who get help and never go back. I always said that when I wanted to stop, I'd move out of state and stay with a family in a drug-free environment. But the problem was, I was addicted and didn't want to stop. I knew I had a problem, but I didn't want to face it. The most important thing in my life was getting high.

"My first two weeks in jail I received medicine for withdrawal. Nothing in the world is worth the high. It feels good, but let me tell you I don't feel good now. Many of my friends have told me they wish they could stop. I tell them to get out of the fast lane, get help, and start facing reality before they hit their brick wall. Two of my friends hit their brick wall, and now they are six feet under.


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