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by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Dog Outranks Wife in Household Pecking Order

DEAR ABBY: I'm a college student who has been looking up friends from my past, ranging from elementary to high school. One of my close friends from elementary school was a boy named "Martin." We were close because we were sort of the outcasts of our class.

I recently contacted a friend who knew Martin. He told me that Martin had become addicted to hard drugs and is now in jail. I have not been able to stop crying over this. Martin was the one who made me happy about school -- a kindred spirit.

I blame myself because I moved over the summer break and never got a chance to say goodbye to Martin. When I visited the school again, Martin came up to me, gave me a hug and demanded to know why I left him! We had been there for each other when others had not.

I know I can't change the past, but I feel if I had been there I could have stopped him from getting into the trouble he did. I can't think about our good times without being sad about his grim future. How can I get over this? -- CRYING FOR A FRIEND IN LOUISVILLE, KY.

DEAR CRYING: Please stop blaming yourself for the path that your childhood friend chose. People do not become drug addicts because a friend from elementary school moved away. Whatever led to his substance abuse, it wasn't you. Because this has hit you so hard emotionally, make an appointment to visit your student health center and talk to a counselor about your feelings of guilt.

While what Martin has done to himself is tragic, it's still not too late for him to kick his habit and straighten out his life. This has nothing to do with you, and you should not make it your problem.