DEAR AMY: I have been using drugs since age 14 and I am now dangerously close to 50. Being in a drug culture, I have tried every high there is, but currently I smoke marijuana every day.
I have wanted to quit since my early 20s but have been unable to. I sought professional help twice and was laughed away because "it is just pot." Let me tell you, Amy, there is a whole culture of us old hippies who just can't quit.
Once again I am resolving to quit, and I am thinking of attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting locally. I am afraid I will once again be laughed out of the room because my drug addiction does not qualify as "real." I have struggled with this as much as anyone with any drug addiction.
Do you think it is like cigarettes, and I just need to suck it up and go cold turkey? Do I just need to be stronger? Or do you think this is a problem that could benefit from a program? I need to stop. — Toker
DEAR TOKER: Given that you have spent the great majority of your life addicted to and taking drugs daily (including during the time your brain was still developing), kicking your marijuana addiction will be challenging, but if I could drop confetti from the ceiling to celebrate your resolve, I would. Good for you!
I must admit I am unaware of the culture of recovery in which someone admitting to any addiction would be "laughed out of the room" if his addiction wasn't considered "real" or serious enough.
If this is really happening, then I suggest you need to prove to yourself that you have the strength to push through this, because you deserve to live as a sober person.
I suspect that the enormity of your long-term problem may be so overwhelming to you, and that when you find yourself in those chairs, you will fix upon any reason (real or perceived) to flee.
Please value your recovery enough to commit to a more professionally supportive approach. You may be able to find a low/no-cost addiction counselor through your local department of social services. One-on-one counseling, along with 12-step meetings, would be helpful.
DEAR AMY: I am a 57-year-old childless woman. At this stage of my life I feel terrible regret over not adopting a child when I couldn't have one of my own.
I know I have value in the world. Not having children has given me the time to do more charitable work for others.
My personal regret stems more from a sense of loneliness and a lack of joyful anticipation for the future. I have shared my regret with friends who have children. They have been wonderful in including me in their family celebrations so I feel a part of their lives.
When I shared my regret over being childless with my mother, she told me that many of her friends never hear from their children regularly, and they are lonely as well as heartbroken.
Do you have insight into my situation? — Childless
DEAR CHILDLESS: You can mitigate your own regret and expand your capacities to share your life with children by becoming a foster parent.
This experience could change your life; it would definitely change the lives of children in your home.
If you live in New York state, the Fresh Air Fund might be the answer for you. Every summer, children from New York City attend camps and live with host families in the country for two weeks. This wonderful program has hosted 1.7 million children since its founding in 1877. To learn more, check freshair.org.
DEAR AMY: The last time you ran a letter from a couple who gave each other the "silent treatment," it sent me into an almost paralyzing emotional state.
I truly believe the tension and silence in my parents' home was oppressive and traumatic. I would never do this to a child. — Been There
DEAR BEEN THERE: Stepping away from an argument is one thing, but engaging in long bouts of silence is damaging for everyone.
(Send questions via e-mail to askamytribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)