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Joan's juniors; Help me - I'm a teenage alcoholic.

Byline: Joan Burnie

Q I'M drinking more and more and I don't think I can stop. I'm 17 and it seems everyone, especially mum, expects a lot of me as I'm supposed to be the clever one in the family who will go to Uni if I get my grades this year.

I am also in love with a guy, but I can't tell him because he is my best friend's boyfriend and I feel guilty because he says I just need to say the word and he will dump her for me.

I keep telling him to get lost because I couldn't do that to her, as she has her own problems. So there is a lot of pressure on me and things build up until the only think that helps is vodka.

I take it into school in a mineral water bottle and, although I'm sometimes quite wrecked, no-one seems to notice. If anyone asks if anything is wrong, I say it is my period and they just accept it.

I am a prefect and they tell me I am a credit to everyone because I don't do drugs, or dog school. But I'm finding getting up every morning more and more difficult - so I take a drink to get me going.

You don't need to tell me I'm a stupid fool because no-one knows it more than me. I'm so angry with myself because my dad is an alcoholic and I hate him.

So why am I drinking as bad as him and why can't I stop when I really, really want to?

AAT least you accept there is a problem. That means you have taken the first, as well as the most important, step towards solving it.

But I also think we would both agree you aren't going to be able to do it on your own. Apart from your own alcohol misuse, you're also suffering because of your father's addiction.

It's a devastating double whammy, but you are not responsible for him - only for yourself. That includes every other area of your life.

So it's YOUR expectations you have to live up to - not your mum's, nor your school's. If you want to go to Uni, then that's great.

But if you feel it's too much and not what you really want, then you mustn't allow other people - no matter how much you love them - to influence you.

You're clearly both a very strong and very good person - if you weren't, you wouldn't have been able to reject this lad who keeps sniffing around you.

You're right to tell him to get lost. But you need an awful lot of help with the rest of it, so contact Alcohol Focus Scotland on 0141-572-6700.

The counsellors at AFS will be able to help you cope better - not only with yourself, but with your father, too.

Stolen love token backfires Q I AM in love with a girl and she said she would go out with me if I bought her a gold necklace.

I didn't have any money and I was too frightened to take one from a shop, so I borrowed one from my sister. I thought once I was going properly with this girl she would give me it back, if I explained.

But although she took the necklace, she still won't be my girlfriend. Also I'm worried my sister will notice her necklace is gone and think I stole it.

A WELL, you did, didn't you? I know you prefer to call it borrowing, but when you do it without asking first I'm afraid it's theft.

That means you must come clean. Throw yourself on your mum's mercy.

Maybe she'll have a word with the girl's mother.

My mum is making my father stay away Q MY dad left home when I was about six and I haven't seen him since.

My mum always said it was good riddance to bad rubbish and we were all better off without him.

But last month he approached my sister in the street and said he wanted to see us. He also said he sent us birthday and Christmas presents, but we never got them.

My sister asked mum and she got angry and said it was all lies. She also ordered us to run away and tell her if he ever came near us again.

But we would really like to see him. I am 13 and my sister is 12.

A I GUESS your dad hurt your mum an awful lot and that's why she's acting the way she is. I'm sure from her point of view, she thinks she did the right thing.

But if your dad is telling the truth, it was wrong. I think you have to be very grown up and make it clear you would like to get to know your dad.

If he is a waster, you'll soon find out - but you and your sister are both old enough to judge it for yourselves.

Q HOW old do you have to be before you can catch AIDS? My teenage boyfriend says it is a well- known fact you can't get it until you are over 20, so we don't need to use condoms.

He is my first affair and is very special, but I'm quite worried as I do not want to be ill or die.

No-one apart from him knows I am gay, so I can't ask anyone about it. If my family found out, they would disown me as they hate gay people and my big brother says they are the scum of the earth.

A FORGET the family - at least for the moment. When and whether you come out is entirely your business.

Far more serious is the huge risk you are being conned into taking by your boyfriend. Unprotected sex is NOT an option for anyone - gay or straight - so no condoms, no love.

If he still refuses, he doesn't love you and you're better off without him.

Q I'M 12 and I suck my thumb and everyone at home calls me a baby.

I try not to and my step dad put vinegar on it, which I didn't like, but I still do it.

It just happens - I don't mean to do it at the time.

Now my stepdad says if he catches me doing it again he will make me suck on a dummy like my wee sister does.

A YOUR stepfather is being an insensitive pig. Thumb- sucking is a habit which does no harm to anyone.

You do it because you find it comforting - and with a man like your stepdad, it's no wonder you need comforting.

If he lays off, you'll outgrow it in your own time.

Stick this where your mother can see and read it.

Then, hopefully, she'll tell your stepdad to start behaving himself properly.

He's the one who is being the real dummy here.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 3, 2003
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