DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and have stopped smoking. I haven't had a cigarette in over a week, and I won't ever smoke again. That's a promise I made to myself, and I will keep it. I'm a very strong-willed guy.
I still have nine full packs of cigarettes, and my uncle offered me $25 for them, but I hate to contribute to his nicotine habit. I had intended to destroy the cigarettes so they wouldn't bring harm to anyone else. Your opinion will be appreciated. — Kenny, St. Paul, Minn.
KENNY: First of all, congratulations for being smoke-free! It wasn't easy, but it was a very good decision.
One option is to destroy the cigarettes, and there is symbolic value in doing so. Another option — since your uncle would get his cigarettes anyway — is to give him the nine packs and give the $25 to the American Cancer Society. That way, the money would go to the cause of helping others who are addicted to cigarettes and who are eager to eliminate the powerful nicotine habit forever.
IS MY MOTHER REALLY BEYOND HELP?
DR. WALLACE: I live with my mother and father. My dad is a good man and works hard to support my mother and me, but he finds it very difficult because my mother has evolved from a social drinker into a full-blown alcoholic. She doesn't get drunk every day, but she drinks every day and it causes my dad and me a lot of concern. She admits that she is addicted to alcohol, but tells us she can't control herself and knows she will be addicted until the day she dies.
I keep telling her that she can be cured if she would find help, but she says she is beyond help. Isn't it possible for Mom to go to some sort of hospital where she can be cured of drinking? Dad and I would do anything to get Mom back to what she once was. — Nameless, Elkhart, Ind.
NAMELESS: There is no "cure" for alcoholism, but your mother can join millions of Americans living an alcohol-free life as a recovering alcoholic. One of the best self-help organizations to keep an ex-drinker free from alcohol is Alcoholics Anonymous. But nothing will help Mom until she wants that help. Do all in your power to get Mom to become part of this group.
I would recommend that you become a member of Alateen, a group that helps teens cope with parents and friends whose lives are affected by alcohol. Find the local group in your telephone book. Best of luck to you and your family. Your story is heartbreaking, and I hope Mom listens to you and finds the courage to break free from her addiction.
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.
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