DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and I caught my mom sniffing nail polish remover. She obviously doesn't want me to know because she tries to hide it.
I don't know what to do. I don't know why she would want to do this. It's something people my age would do. I know better than to do that.
Should I talk to her about it? She'll probably make up some excuse like she likes the smell. She sometimes tells me I need to grow up because I can act silly. But honestly, she is the one who needs to grow up.
I want to help her because I know what she's doing is not good for her. But how? -- KNOWS HER SECRET IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR KNOWS: Your mother may have an acetone addiction. Because you can't convince her to take your concerns seriously, tell another adult ASAP what's going on -- a relative, your father if he's in the picture, a teacher or counselor at school.
This kind of inhalant addiction is serious because in high concentrations acetone is a nervous system depressant. This means it can slow a person's heartbeat, respiration and metabolism, causing a person to become dizzy, confused and pass out. It can also damage the vital organs -- the heart, liver, kidneys and the bone marrow -- and cause cardiac arrest and death.
A support group for the children of addicts such as Alateen could give you emotional support. To find one, visit al-anon.org.