DR. WALLACE: Recently, the parents of a 17-year-old son thought they were teaching him how to drink alcohol sensibly at home so he wouldn't learn how to drink outside the home with his friends. You blew a gasket, saying that they were doing their son an injustice. Sir, may I tell you that you were 100% incorrect. If all parents would teach their teens to drink sensibly and become responsible social drinkers, we would have fewer adult problem drinkers, which would mean fewer alcoholics and alcohol-related accidents, family problems and crimes.
When teens don't learn how to drink sensibly with parental guidance, they learn from their peers, and it can be, more often than not, quite troublesome. — Father Who Coaches Home Drinking, Arlington, Virginia
FATHER: I strongly disagree with parents introducing alcohol to their children. I believe they are making a serious mistake. Alcohol is a highly addictive drug that can cause bouts of depression and has wreaked havoc on millions of American families. Instead of teaching your sons to drink, you and your wife would have done a better parenting job if you had stopped drinking completely yourselves and encouraged your sons to avoid alcohol completely.
Isn't it possible that if you didn't teach your sons to drink, they might not be drinkers now?
ADVICE FOR A QUITTER-TO-BE
DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and have been smoking for five years. I've been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. I really want to quit because I'm starting to have a steady cough and, at times, pains in my chest. I know it's not cancer, but still, the pain and cough bother me. My smoking has kind of gotten out of control here lately.
How long would it take me to overcome my smoking habit 100% if I stopped smoking the day I read your answer in our newspaper? I'm very serious about ending this dreadful habit. — Need to Quit, Nashville, Tennessee
NEED TO QUIT: You are making a very wise decision. Not only will you feel better once you've stopped your smoking habit, but your financial situation will be greatly improved. Also, smokers often start feeling better within two weeks of quitting smoking.
Now, to address the hard part: finding a way to permanently quit smoking. This is really tough, and there are many ways to approach it. One would be to try to quit cold turkey, which is to stop altogether immediately. This is a difficult method to succeed with at first, as nicotine withdrawals often set in and are difficult to overcome. Another is to cut down gradually.
For example, try each day to reduce your intake meaningfully. You are at an alarming 40 cigarettes a day. I know that you are aware of this and don't need a lecture about it; after all, you came to me. Try to cut out three or four cigarettes every other day. See if you can get down to 30 within a week or so. Hold there for a handful of days; then try to get down to 20 within another week or so after that. Then gradually cut one or two every few days. If you can get under 10 per day within roughly six weeks, you'll be on your way. It will be tough, but if you truly desire to quit, you eventually will. Find a friend or relative who can follow your journey "down" to the very low number of cigarettes per day and tell this person honestly how you're doing daily. This type of second-party accountability is often a great motivator, as you'll have someone to share your successes with. Good luck and keep at it until you're off the smokes entirely!
Readers, this is an excellent topic and time for those who found a way to quit smoking to send in their suggestions. Any former smokers who have advice and stories on how they kicked the habit, please do tell us the methods you successfully employed. We will run a few of them in future columns, in the hopes of helping others to succeed using similar methods.
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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