My parents have been divorced for over three years. Mom has been dating a guy for a year and they are planning to get married soon. She said they would be married in Las Vegas, Nevada because it is really easy there to become husband and wife. I sort of like my future stepfather, but one thing really bothers me is that he is a former alcoholic. He hasn’t had any alcohol ever since he met my mom.
I remember one of your columns where you said that there was no cure for an alcoholic and that an alcoholic is one for life. I discussed this with mom and she said her future husband is a “recovering alcoholic.” I didn’t want to make a big issue out of it so I dropped the discussion. That’s why I need you. How long does a person need to be a recovering alcoholic before this person is no longer an alcoholic?
I am a regular reader of your column for teens, but don’t worry, my mom rarely reads it. So please don’t put my name or city at the end of my email.
— Nameless, U.S.A.
Nameless: An alcoholic can live an alcohol-free life, but as I said before, there is no cure for alcoholism. A recovering alcoholic is an alcoholic who has stopped drinking alcohol 100 percent, but must never let his or her guard down and assume that a drink or two will do no harm, because that is simply not true. One alcoholic drink could reactivate the addiction.
If I had a choice of mom or you being the only reader of my column, I’m glad it is you. I wish you and your family all the best!
Dr. Wallace: I met a guy at a party and we seemed to hit it off really well. He asked me for my phone number and I gave it to him. He called me last night and we talked for about 20 minutes. I thought he might be a tiny bit shy, so I asked him if he was going to ask me out.
I was shocked when he said no, because he was going steady with another girl. I asked him why he was calling me and he said he wanted to get to know me better just in case he and his girlfriend broke up. I called him a jerk and told him not to call me anymore. Then I hung up on him. Was I too hard on him?
San Francisco, Calif.
Sandy: Hanging up on someone isn’t a good habit to get into, but this time it was warranted. Some people need the shock of that click and sudden dial tone to wake up to news that being deceitful equals being a jerk.
Dr. Wallace: I’m 17 and do a little drinking with friends on the weekend. I never get drunk, but I know that alcohol can alter a person’s judgment, so I need to know how long I should wait before driving after I’ve had two beers.
Nameless: According to the American Council on Science and Health, everyone should abstain from alcohol a minimum of five hours prior to operating a vehicle. Even the consumption of one beer or one glass of wine can affect a driver’s judgment and coordination.
Since you’re only 17, you shouldn’t be drinking at all. The minimum age for consuming alcohol in all states and the District of Columbia is 21. Every time you have a beer, you are breaking the law! Have you considered new friends?