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by Abigail Van Buren

Stepson's Drug Addiction May Be the Death of His Dad

DEAR ABBY: After 30 years as a widow, I married a wonderful, gentle, caring man. The problem is his son, "Byron." Byron is a 50-year-old druggie who doesn't work and sponges off his father by making promises he never keeps.

My husband forgives him over and over because Byron is his only son. But the fighting is going to cause my husband to have a heart attack. His son rants, screams and threatens. I have personally heard him make death threats.

I finally lost my temper and told Byron exactly how I feel. Now he is refusing to come over, refuses to help his father in any way and blames me. I know what he is doing, and it breaks my heart to see my husband in such pain.

What can I do to mend the fences? Everything I said to his son is the truth. Please guide me. -- HEARTSICK IN SEATTLE

DEAR HEARTSICK: Your husband's "child" is an addict. One of the things addicts do -- and quite adeptly -- is manipulate those around them into enabling them to continue their habit. The harder a person tries to protect the addict, the more it makes the addict able to continue his/her self-destructive behavior. The reason Byron acts the way he does is because it has always worked.

Believe it or not, your husband needs help right now as much as -- or more than -- his son does. An excellent place to find it would be the Nar-Anon Family Groups, a support group founded in 1967 that offers insight and support to families and friends of addicts. It provides a safe place for members to share their experience, hope and strength with each other. To locate a group in your area, call toll-free (800) 477-6291 or visit its Web site at � HYPERLINK "" ���.