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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: On June 6, 1989, your column included a test: "Are you an alcoholic?" I was only 27 at the time, and the 10 questions woke me up. I answered nine out of 10 with a yes. When I saw that three or more yes answers meant I had a problem, I took the test again. There was no way I could answer less than seven with a yes.

On June 12, 1989, I walked into DePaul Hospital for treatment. I've been sober ever since. Over the years, I've told hundreds of people about my experience and always promised myself I would write to thank you. -- KURT H.

DEAR KURT: You're welcome. There's an old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Obviously, you were receptive to the idea that you might have an alcohol problem and willing to do something about it. I applaud you for it.

For other readers who are concerned about their drinking, I'm printing another test. This one has 12 questions:

ARE YOU AN ALCOHOLIC?

(1) Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but lasted only a couple of days?

(2) Do you wish people would stop nagging you about your drinking?

(3) Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another hoping that would keep you from getting drunk?

(4) Have you had a drink in the morning during the past year?

(5) Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?

(6) Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?

(7) Has your drinking caused trouble at home?

(8) Do you ever try to get extra drinks at a party because you did not get enough to drink?

(9) Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want, even though you keep getting drunk?

(10) Have you missed days at work because of the drinking?

(11) Do you have blackouts?

(12) Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are either an alcoholic or on your way to becoming one. So, now what do you do?

For openers, look up Alcoholics Anonymous in the telephone directory. It's listed under "A." There are no dues, and you need not identify yourself unless you want to.

You can also write to AA, P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, for information.

If you need treatment, your physician or local mental health professionals can help you choose among available resources for expert, professional treatment.

Good luck and God bless you.

DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old. My boyfriend of three months is 32. My parents have met him and like him very much. They believe he is the right guy for me. However, when they asked me about his age, I subtracted four years and told them he was only 28. Now I am afraid the truth will come out soon.

Abby, I love my boyfriend and want to stay with him, but I don't know how to break the news to my parents. Please tell me what to say. -- CONFUSED PRINCESS IN PASADENA, CALIF.

DEAR CONFUSED: Tell your parents you need their help with a "math problem" -- and proceed from there.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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