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by Abigail Van Buren

'Date Rape Drug' Scare Is Lesson for All Teens

DEAR ABBY: I'm 17 and recently made a very bad decision. I'm sure you and your readers have heard of "ruffies," the "date-rape drug." This drug has a very dangerous potential. I was at a party last weekend and decided to try one.

All the stories you've heard about not remembering anything are completely true. You have absolutely NO control over what you do, or what's done TO you. I was very lucky, because I was with someone I can trust -- my boyfriend, who loves me and would never hurt or take advantage of me. Unfortunately, not every guy is like that.

My memory of that night is totally blank. I could have been everyone's toy for the night and not have known it. Luckily, I wasn't, and I learned from my mistake. Please, girls out there, learn from my experience. Don't let it happen to you. -- ANONYMOUS IN FLORIDA

DEAR ANONYMOUS: If your mind is totally blank, how do you KNOW nothing happened? If there's the slightest doubt, see a doctor to be sure you are OK.

According to the Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., the following is what young women can do to protect themselves from drugs like Rohypnol ("ruffies") or GHB:

-- Don't drink beverages that you did not open yourself.

-- Don't exchange or share drinks with anyone.

-- Don't take a drink from a punch bowl.

-- Don't drink from a container that's being passed around.

-- If someone offers you a drink from the bar at a club or a party, accompany the person to the bar to order the drink, and watch the drink being poured. Carry the drink yourself.

-- Don't leave your drink unattended, especially when talking, dancing, using the rest room or making a phone call.

-- Don't drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance, like a "salty" taste or unexplained residue.

-- If you realize that your drink has been left unattended, discard it.

-- Don't mix drugs and alcohol. When drugs are mixed with alcohol, the results can be lethal.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old man who has been married for 22 years. My wife and I have two wonderful teen-aged children.

About six months ago, my wife's niece (I'll call her Rene), whom I had never met, came from another country to live with us so she could go to college in the United States. She is in her early 20s.

For the first few months everything was fine. Now I find myself thinking about Rene all the time. I think I'm in love with her. I travel quite a bit because of my job, and every time I come home it's torture. I have to act as if nothing is going on in my mind. No one knows the way I feel.

If I tell my wife, she'll be crushed and it will be the end of our marriage. If I tell Rene -- who has done nothing wrong and loves my wife like a mother -- she may want to return to her country without finishing her studies.

I have always tried to do the right thing. I never thought at this age I'd be feeling this way. I don't want to ruin anyone's life, including my own. What should I do? -- DESPERATE IN DELAWARE

DEAR DESPERATE: Although it's common for older men to fantasize about younger women, the consequences of your fantasy could irreparably damage at least five lives. Talking this out with someone you trust would be helpful. I recommend a professional therapist, who can help you assess the consequences of acting out this fantasy.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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