Dr. Wallace:

I’m a 17-year-old girl and I got a new mother after not having one for seven years.

My dad never disciplined any of us kids. We got to do anything we wanted. If my sister and I wanted to spend the night at our boyfriend’s house, we could. In fact, we had our boyfriends spend the night at our house many times when my dad wasn’t home. My sister and I got to come and go and do whatever we wanted to do.

Now that my dad is married again, things are changing. Our new mother makes us help around the house and tells us what to do. We had poor grades in school because our dad never made us study and we didn’t care. Our new mother is making us study and we don’t like it.

I talked to my sister and we both would like to live with our real mother, who also has remarried, but we don’t want to hurt our father because we love him. Please advise us.

— Sisters,

San Francisco, Calif.

Sisters: The best thing that happened to both of you in many a year is getting a new mother! You’re both well aware that your dad was doing a lousy job of rearing two teenage girls. In all my days, I’ve never heard of a parent who was that lax with discipline and control.

Moving in with your biological mom would not mean the return of a restriction-free life. Hopefully, she’d be as tough on you as your stepmother is. And if she gives you no more structure than your dad did before he remarried, no one wins — least of all either of you girls.

You and your sister have had your way much too long and were headed down the wrong path. Now get with it and make something out of your lives! I think your new mom, if given a chance, can really help and guide you both. Please allow her the opportunity.

Dr. Wallace: What makes one drug addictive and not another? Do people who use addictive drugs all wind up becoming addicted?

My boyfriend is starting to use cocaine, but he says he can control his use and won’t become addicted. Is this really possible?

— Nameless, Peoria, Ill.

Nameless: Simply stated, a drug is considered addictive when a user feels uncomfortable or unhappy without it. This discomfort can be either physical or psychological. Cocaine is an addictive drug and is so potent that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuses, people have become hooked on cocaine in as little as one month.

If a person uses cocaine only three or four times a year, chances are he will not become addicted. If he uses it three or four times a week, he will become addicted. Do you know a smoker who smokes on a regular basis who is not addicted to nicotine? I don’t think so.

Once a person becomes addicted to a certain drug, if he doesn’t get that drug he experiences withdrawal symptoms. That means the body or mind is distressed without the drug and demands to have it. These powerful symptoms cause the user to become irritable, lose energy and motivation, suffer severe depression and, in some cases, suffer acute physical discomfort. Your boyfriend risks plunging himself into a living nightmare!

If he still has the power to stop using cocaine but chooses not to, then leave him and go on with your life and don’t look back.

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