DEAR ABBY: I have a serious problem with my best friend. "Jennifer" and I used to tell each other everything, and I thought our friendship would be forever. But recently I have not been able to understand her at all.
Jennifer has started using drugs. I knew she was smoking pot, but she had promised me she wouldn't do anything heavier. Now I know she was lying to me. I've tried to get her to quit, but it's getting worse every day. We argue a lot and sometimes she swears at me. (She never did that before she was on drugs.)
We are students, and I can't study because I'm so worried about her.
Two weeks ago I decided I couldn't stand it any more and made a decision to stay away from her. I still would like to be Jennifer's friend because I remember what a sweet girl she used to be. But now I don't know if I even like her. Even though I feel freedom after separating from her, I worry that maybe I'm making her life worse by not being there for her when she needs me.
Abby, should I still be a friend of hers or not? -- CONFUSED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CONFUSED: Your friend is in serious trouble, and if you continue to keep her drug use a secret, you will be letting her down. She needs help. And the way to see that she gets it is to tell your parents, or a trusted teacher or school counselor what's going on. This is not the same thing as tattling -- you would be helping to save her life.
I recently printed a letter from the mother of a young man who had overdosed on drugs. That letter, and the accompanying piece, "King Heroin," produced an outpouring of mail from addicts and alcoholics, as well as from their families and friends.
A strong message of hope came from those who had found recovery in a 12-step program. Read on for a sample:
DEAR ABBY: I'm almost 50 years old and I had only heard of miracles, but had never experienced one. My daughter suffered from drug addiction for almost six years. During those six years, our lives were a living hell. I ranted, raved, threatened and bribed repeatedly, all to no avail.
After hitting rock bottom physically, spiritually and emotionally, she stumbled into a meeting of a 12-step program. She took one step and one day at a time. Through her belief in the program and the guidance of her sponsor, she restored her life to sanity.
She knows there is no cure for her addiction, but there is recovery. This month, she will celebrate her second year as a recovering addict. That is a miracle!
For those who suffer from addiction or have friends or family who are addicted, there is hope. If you attend a meeting of a 12-step program, you too can experience a miracle. -- MOTHER OF A MIRACLE
DEAR MOTHER (AND ALL WHO WROTE WITH A SIMILAR STORY): Your message of hope is worth repeating. Twelve-step programs have worked when all else has failed. The most well-known programs are: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon Family Groups (for friends and family members), and Alateen (for young friends and family members). Check your local phone directory or newspaper for meeting locations, or write to: Alcoholics Anonymous, General Service Office, 475 Riverside Drive, 11th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10115; Al-Anon and Alateen, 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach, Va. 23454-5617; Narcotics Anonymous, World Service Office, 19737 Nordhoff Place, Chatsworth, Calif. 91311.