DR. WALLACE: Last year, I was dating a guy who was heavily into cocaine, and pretty soon, I joined him a time or two. Then, I found I was on it steadily (every day or every other day) for about a month, but luckily for me, we broke up and I stopped using all drugs — cold turkey.
Since then, I've read that drugs can have a devastating effect on unborn babies. Will my drug use cause me to have a deformed baby when I get pregnant? Please answer soon. I'm engaged, and we are about to set a date for our wedding. It's been over a year since I've taken any drugs of any kind, and I've learned my lesson. I'm confident that I will stay off drugs for the rest of my life, but I'm worried about damage that I've done that could be permanent. — Anonymous, via email
ANONYMOUS: First of all, congratulations on giving up cocaine cold turkey. That is no small achievement.
The greatest possible physical damage to an unborn infant occurs when the mother uses illegal drugs and alcohol while she is pregnant. The good news is that when a pregnant woman refrains from using illegal drugs and drinking alcohol, the chances are quite low that the unborn baby would suffer physical or mental damage from any past use well before the baby was conceived. Consider yourself lucky that you now find yourself in control of your life. You likely succumbed to peer pressure when you used alongside of your previous boyfriend. Be extremely wary from now on to control all of your own actions, for your own personal well-being. You must make good decisions and protect your health at all times. Don't ever do anything simply because someone else close to you is doing it. Peer pressure is one of the most powerful and dangerous forces that can subject an individual to potential harm. I trust you've learned this lesson, yet you must constantly defend yourself from repeating past mistakes. Keep those lessons learned in the forefront of your mind and realize just how lucky you are to be where you are in your life today. I send my best wishes to you and your fiance for a happy, healthy future.
TRAIN TRACKS ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS
DR. WALLACE: I lost my grandson to a horrible accident. I loved him. He was only 20 years old and he had his whole life in front of him.
He and his best friend were hit by a train and killed. They had been walking on the tracks and had gotten out of the way of the southbound train, but they didn't hear the train that was northbound. Both boys died instantly.
My grandson had been walking on the tracks for over 10 years. I had told him many times not to walk on the tracks, but he continued to walk them because it was a shortcut to where he was going. I raised this boy since he was 3, so it was like losing my own son. One day he was an active 20-year-old, and the next second, he was gone.
Dr. Wallace, please tell young people never to walk on the train tracks. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that a train would hit my grandson. I know that children and teens enjoy being around trains and train tracks, but the unexpected can and does happen. The grief I am suffering is almost unbearable, and the questions regarding his death will never be answered. Our family's grief will never end. I sure want to warn other teenagers, as this loss seems so senseless. — Heartbroken Grandma, Chicago
GRANDMA: It's amazing how railroads and trains act as magnets to draw young people. As a young boy in Gary, Indiana, I, too, walked on the railroad tracks occasionally.
Fatal train accidents usually happen when the victim feels safe after a train passes but is not aware of a train traveling in the opposite direction. Railroad tracks are not intended to be walkways for humans. Everyone should be extra careful when walking near trains and never, ever risk going through flashing red lights or around lowered gates when driving. Trains don't have the ability to stop on a dime; therefore, collisions are often, tragically, fatal.
Thank you for taking the time to pass on your warning on this topic. It's not a topic that is often discussed, yet the warnings you've outlined are so very important. I am deeply sorry for your loss and inspired to pass on your poignant warning to our readers.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.