DEAR ABBY: I'm sending you a picture of my brother. While I don't expect you to send it to "Stressed Out," who was tempted to ignore the school's rule against attending parties where there was drinking and drugs or be penalized by removal from sports teams, please stress how deadly drinking can be. The picture of my brother -- on life-support due to his alcoholism -- is very sad for me, and very chilling to see.
Abby, I don't drink, but I'm being punished because of alcohol. My parents died young from alcohol-related disorders and now I've lost my brother to the same addiction. He began drinking at weekend parties when he was a teen-ager, never dreaming that he, too, would be unable to quit. He was a gifted artist, but the more he drank, the less artwork he produced -- and now he's dead.
It hurts me to see advertising that draws teens into drinking and smoking. When will the insanity stop?
To any teen who reads this and hasn't given in to the pressure to drink, I would like to pat you on the back. I am proud of you. It takes great strength to go against the flow. Your chances of making your dreams come true are increased if you don't allow alcohol to get in your way. -- GRIEVING AND ALONE IN ANAHEIM, CALIF.
DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my condolences for the loss of your beloved brother. I am printing your letter so teens can see for themselves that drinking and drugs can have unforeseen tragic results. Alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases, and unfortunately some families are genetically predisposed to them. Teens, beware! It CAN happen to you, so don't risk it.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old high school sophomore. "Stressed Out in Washington" said it was difficult to avoid drinking, in spite of his school's rules that students would be dropped from sports if they went to parties where alcohol or drugs were used.
I have also made a decision not to drink. Many of my friends do, although my close friends do not. Sometimes I feel left out when I have to refuse invitations to parties with the popular crowd because they will be drinking and doing drugs. More than once, I have been tempted to go. I think that if I try drinking once I'll be satisfied and never do it again. But many of my friends who thought the same thing said it was harder to resist after trying it.
Now when I'm tempted to drink, I think about how I would disappoint others. My parents would no longer trust me, and I would let my little brother and sister down because they look to me as an example. Also, I volunteer with children in my church, teach Sunday school and work in the nursery. If their parents found out that I went to parties where there was drinking, they wouldn't trust me with their children.
My school also has a policy of dropping kids from athletic teams if they are caught drinking or are with others who are drinking. I am a cheerleader, and drinking would jeopardize my being on the squad. I agree with this policy because it probably keeps a few kids from drinking.
Abby, the reason athletes suffer consequences and kids who don't play sports get off with no punishment is that athletes are looked up to by everyone else. They set the standard for what is considered acceptable by the rest of the students. If athletes looked down on drinking, it would encourage others to follow.
I hope "Stressed Out" continues setting a high standard for other students. Maybe a few of them will follow his example. -- ARIZONA CHEERLEADER
DEAR ARIZONA CHEERLEADER: I hope so, too. You are a very wise young lady. When "Stressed Out in Washington" sees your supportive letter, I'm certain it will strengthen his resolve. Thank you for writing.
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