Dear Annie: Please tell me, when did alcoholism become a disease? A disease is when the body is ill and not functioning properly.
According to Webster's Dictionary, addiction is the quality or state of being addicted, and continues that it is a "compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine or alcohol) characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal."
So why do alcoholics have a disease and those who abuse drugs are addicts? Why do we tolerate the double standard? — Ventura, Calif.
Dear Ventura: It's not a double standard. Alcoholics are also addicts. The idea that addiction is a disease became popular in the '70s, when those treating addicts realized that stigmatizing them as simply lacking self-control and having character deficiencies was prejudicial and counterproductive to effective treatment. We now know that some people are genetically predisposed to becoming addicted and that repeatedly abusing drugs or alcohol can alter the brain. But there is some argument that addiction is not as similar to a medical disease as it is to a chronic disorder or compulsive behavior, which is why support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can be so helpful.
Dear Annie: A dear aunt passed away about six weeks ago. Unfortunately, I could not attend her out-of-town funeral due to the expense and my own health issues. But I knew she loved a particular flower, and I had the florist send some to the funeral home.
I have heard nothing from the family, although even a short note would have been appreciated. How do I check to see whether the flowers arrived on time? I am uncomfortable calling the family. Can I check with the florist? Our income is limited, and an expensive bouquet takes thought and budgeting. Have we lost all our manners in this day and age? — Dumfounded Niece
Dear Niece: It can be difficult for family members to put aside their grief long enough to send thank-you notes and other acknowledgments, and it helps to have friends assist them. Yes, you can check with the florist. But there is nothing wrong with picking up the phone to call your relatives and express your condolences, share memories of your aunt and, in the course of the conversation, find out whether the flowers were received.
Dear Annie: I am the 11-year-old boy who wrote to you about my brother-in-law who has been bullying me. I signed the letter "Your Friend." When I saw your answer in my newspaper, I knew it was time to do something.
I decided to start with my brother, who is in the Army. I emailed him before school and told him I had written you and asked him to find my letter on your website. He called me within 30 minutes, and I told him everything that "Chris" has been doing to me. He was so angry. He said he'd fix it. He called our parents and told them about my letter. My parents confronted Chris, who admitted everything, but said he was only joking. They didn't believe him. My sister has taken Chris' side, which I understand, but I don't think he will ever bully me again. My dad made it clear that he is never to lay a hand on me. My mother and brother said similar things. That made me smile because I know I can count on my family to protect me.
Thank you, Annie. You helped me fix this, and I love you for it. — Your Friend Again
Dear Friend: Your letter made our day! But it was your courage in confronting this issue that made the difference. We only pointed you in the right direction. Thanks so much for letting us know we helped.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.