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Dear Abby: Mom’s secret sniffing puts teen on edge

Dear Abby: I’m a 17-year-old girl, and I caught my mom sniffing nail polish remover. She obviously doesn’t want me to know because she tries to hide it.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know why she would want to do this. It’s something that people my age would do. I know better than to do that.

Should I talk with her about it? She’ll probably make up an excuse that she likes the smell. She sometimes tells me that I need to grow up because I can act silly. But honestly, she is the one who needs to grow up.

I want to help because I know what she’s doing is not good for her. But how?

-- Knows a Secret in North Carolina

Dear Knows: Your mother may have an acetone addiction. Because you can’t convince her to take your concerns seriously, tell another adult ASAP what’s going on – your father, if he’s in the picture; a relative; a teacher; a counselor at school.

This kind of inhalant addiction is serious because in high concentrations, acetone is a nervous system depressant. This means it can slow a person’s heartbeat, respiration and metabolism, causing a person to become dizzy, confused and pass out. It can also damage the vital organs – the heart, liver, kidneys and the bone marrow – and cause cardiac arrest and death.

Not keen about in-law’s help

Dear Abby: My husband had a heart attack and is still in the intensive care unit. I visit him every day. Yesterday, I found out that he had asked his sister to stay with me to “be there for me.”

I’m furious. My sister-in-law is nice, but we’ve never been close. My house is a shambles (my husband and I are both disabled, he with peripheral artery disease and me after having been run over by a car) because housework is painful for me. So now, in addition to the stress of taking cabs to see him, I have the additional stress and pain of trying to make the house presentable.

I know my husband meant well, but I don’t want to go through this in front of an audience. I feel angry and also guilty for being angry. Can you help me put all this into perspective?

– Stressed in New Jersey

Dear Stressed: After spending a week in an ICU, your husband may be having concerns about ever emerging. He may have suggested that his sister come because he was worried about how you would handle being alone. That you might be upset because your home isn’t ready to be featured in House Beautiful magazine probably didn’t enter his mind.

However, now that she’s coming, be smart. Ask her to help you with the deferred housework so the place will be shipshape when your husband is discharged. If, as you say, you and your sister-in-law aren’t close, her stay with you may be shorter than planned.