DEAR ABBY: I had my last cigarette and drink of alcohol 50 years ago. Back then, excessive drinking, smoking, overeating or nail-biting were signs of weak will, sinfulness, bad upbringing and who knows what else.

Fortunately, over the years the pendulum swung, making it possible for literally millions of people to get into recovery for what we now know is a disease — ADDICTION.

Unfortunately, the pendulum is now swinging back again. Now EVERYONE has a “disease” over which they have no control. Therefore, they have an excuse to drink too much, overeat, eat sugar while taking their insulin — the list goes on and on.

Sadly, this business of taking no responsibility for one’s own health and — worse yet — often blaming someone or something else for the problem, takes away from those who are taking responsibility for themselves. Getting by with a third DUI, or verbally abusing your spouse, being excused for being late to work for the fourth time because of one’s “disease” all contribute to the continuation of the stigma which many of us have been fighting for so long.

Addiction IS a disease, and there are many avenues of recovery: mental, spiritual, medical, intellectual and philosophical. What they all have in common is they require a commitment to getting well and, more importantly, a determination to recover.

It is true that there are people with serious maladies that cannot be controlled by any means. My heart goes out to them. Fortunately, they are few and far between and the medical profession is working hard to find answers for them.


Abby, I want to reinforce your dedication to promoting personal responsibility. It is desperately needed! — ROBERTA MEYER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ALCOHOL AND DRUG DEPENDENCE — CALIFORNIA

DEAR ROBERTA: Your letter contains many important truths, and thank you for taking the time to write. As I have said in columns past, the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one and deciding to do something about it. The same is true for addiction. That’s why 12-step programs are so effective. In these programs, people gain emotional support from others who are traveling the same path to recovery.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our 70s and have been married five years. I don’t understand his telling me that the reason we don’t have sex is because I always have too many clothes on. He says it’s too much trouble.

I wear normal clothing, and I undress for the occasion. What am I not understanding about his thoughts on this subject? — CONFUSED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR CONFUSED: I suspect your husband may not be giving you a straight answer because he’s embarrassed. When a man says sex is “too much trouble,” it’s usually because he’s having trouble performing. The problem may be his sex drive has diminished or it could be physical. But it won’t be resolved unless he’s willing to have a frank conversation about it with his doctor. For your sake, urge him to do it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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