- Advice for your Everyday Life
Section: addictions 

Dear Ann Landers,
A few months ago, when I was recovering from surgery and in bed suffering post-operative pain, my sister, "Ellen," came by to see me. My husband, "Dan," who is a physician, happened to enter the room and saw Ellen take prescription drugs out of the box beside my bed and slip them into her pocket. Ellen looked up and realized he had seen her, even though I didn't notice a thing. Dan didn't want to alarm me, so he said nothing. He waited until Ellen went home and then telephoned her. She didn't say much, except that she had a very bad headache and needed medication. Ellen didn't know Dan had counted the capsules before her visit and knew she was lying about how many she had stolen. Later that evening, she phoned to apologize to Dan, but he wasn't home, so she talked to me and confessed that she had taken my pills. Ellen is an alcoholic and has been sober for approximately eight years. We are concerned about her health and safety. We also worry about her tendency to steal prescription drugs (as well as other things) from our home and possibly the homes of her friends. We are afraid she might start shoplifting and end up in jail. Dan and I don't feel comfortable discussing this with Ellen's husband, and she has always been very defensive, so it isn't easy to talk to her about personal problems. Please give us some guidance. -- Worried Sick in Newport Beach, Calif.

Dear Worried in Newport,
Your sister needs help. Ellen has traded one addiction for another. She is off the booze but is now hooked on pills. It is essential that you inform her husband about this latest occurrence. His wife needs professional help, and he must see that she gets it at once. By withholding this information, you are doing your sister a grave injustice.

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"Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset."
-Ann Landers