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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 "" ���.

DEAR ABBY: I am 44, a newly single mother of three young children. Two years ago I discovered that my husband had been leading a double life -- including lying, cheating, stealing and substance abuse. One of his affairs was with my favorite cousin, "Charlotte." I had always looked up to her. The news was devastating.

Equally devastating is the reaction of my family. They consider Charlotte to be a "victim" of my former husband. They say I should get over it and move on. They want to invite her to family functions, including my youngest sister's wedding, in which my children and I have been asked to participate.

Since the affair, Charlotte has continued to be an alcoholic. She has never attempted to apologize appropriately. Once she did, but she was drunk and refused to take responsibility for her actions. Out of respect for my feelings, I think Charlotte should be excluded from the wedding. If she is invited, I'm not sure my children and I will attend. What do you think? -- OUTRAGED IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR OUTRAGED: You should thank your higher power that you're rid of the substance-abusing, morally challenged philanderer you married. He had the affair with Charlotte because she was handy, vulnerable and addled by alcohol. She has tried to apologize, but because she was drunk couldn't get her message across. Does this absolve her? No! But until Charlotte sobers up, expecting an "appropriate" apology is as unrealistic as asking someone with a broken leg to tap-dance.

Take part in the wedding and allow yourself to have a good time. Stop nursing your anger for Charlotte and direct it where it belongs -- at your ex. Do this if not for yourself, then in the name of family unity. No woman is an island, and with your current mind-set, you're only isolating yourself.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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