DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl and a pretty good student. My problem: I have friends who like to drink and do drugs. While I have no interest in getting caught up in that stuff, I don't want to lose their friendship.
They know I won't hang with them when they're drunk or high on something. I've told them that numerous times, and they know how I feel.
Abby, I've grown up with these kids. They mean a lot to me. Can you please give me some advice so they'll stop these bad habits before it's too late and something really tragic happens? -- WORRIED IN RHODE ISLAND
DEAR WORRIED: It's painful to see people you care about do risky things, but your friends must decide for themselves about their alcohol and drug use. However, you can get information to help them understand the many serious consequences of substance abuse. The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information has a series of "Tips for Teens" brochures about alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and other free materials. You can call the organization toll-free at (800) 729-6686 or visit the Web site at www.health.org.
Whether your friends are willing to learn and reconsider their current choices is up to them, but you will have offered them sound information to help them make their decision.
You could also send a confidential letter to your school principal suggesting the school sponsor an assembly about drug and alcohol addiction. If possible, the assembly should include personal testimonials and warnings from older teens and young adults who have conquered their habit. I can't imagine a more powerful motivator for your friends and other young people to avoid the pitfalls of addiction.
DEAR ABBY: I am in my late 20s, the eldest of five children. (The youngest is 10.) My parents have been married 35 years.
A few months ago, my younger brother and mother discovered evidence that my father was having an affair. Dad denied everything. My mother is bitter and refuses to get counseling. She makes remarks about my father such as, "I couldn't care less about him, but divorce is out of the question because I need the money." She's also said, "I just wish he would die."
I understand that Mother is hurt and frustrated, but Dad is still my father and Mom's attitude hurts me as well.
Since this happened, I broke my engagement to a wonderful man I was to marry this month. Now I'm wondering if I called it off because of my parents' problems. I feel as though I am the parent to them, Abby.
My family reads your column, so I'm asking you to please advise us. -- MY PARENTS' PARENT IN WISCONSIN
DEAR PARENTS' PARENT: I cannot advise your parents, because they didn't ask me for advice. However, your life is just beginning, and you must live it for yourself. You need counseling to help you emotionally separate from your parents and their marital problems, which only they can resolve.
Now, pick up the phone and call your former fiance. It may not be too late to get your relationship back on track.
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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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