DEAR HARRIETTE: My fiance, whom I affectionately refer to as "My L'il Knucklehead," and I are very much in love. We consider ourselves each other's soul mates and believe that we were truly meant and destined for each other. Nevertheless, we have some issues that are very detrimental to our well-being -- drugs and alcohol. This has caused much turmoil in our relationship, and I don't know where to turn. I really love this woman, but for some odd reason, I'm afraid to lose her. I never really felt this way in previous relationships and now I question my reason or motives for not taking the initiative to better this situation. My close family and friends, for the most part, have distanced themselves from me, acting as if I have a contagious disease. They believe that My L'il Knucklehead isn't good for me and want nothing to do with me as long as I am with her. I can't walk away. Why? -- The Knucklehead's Sidekick, Shreveport, La.
DEAR THE KNUCKLEHEAD'S SIDEKICK: You are in need of support. You may want to start at an Al-Anon meeting. If your girlfriend is the drug and alcohol abuser and not you at all, you may be enabling her through behavior that you may not even recognize. Too often, when people are in relationships with substance abusers, they make excuses for them. They tend to diminish the effects that their partner's behavior has on their lives.
Rather than walking away, at least today, get some help. Visit www.al-anon.alateen.org, where you will find tons of information for people who have loved ones who are suffering alcohol abuse. You may also want to visit Nar-Anon at nar-anon.org, which is for people whose loved ones are suffering drug abuse. The point is to get help for yourself. You will figure out your next steps one day at a time. Keep the faith.