Dear Straight Talk: In regard to your recent columns on heroin addiction, it’s my sister who is the drug addict. My parents spent most of our college fund for her rehab and I now will need big student loans. They say they had no choice in order to save her life.
She lays around our bedroom in her thong while I work two jobs to save money for college. I dislike seeing her this way all the time, and my friends don’t come over because it makes them uncomfortable.
Why does all money, compassion and sympathy (including from Straight Talk) go to the drug abusers, while those doing the right thing get nothing and have to suffer for it? — J.N., 17, Carmichael
Brie, 23, San Francisco: My same-age stepbrother got the trips, the toys, the attention, and my stepmother even did his homework and chores. THEN, I was jealous. NOW, I’m successful. I’ve almost finished working my way through college and am getting great job offers. My stepbrother barely graduated high school, has a DUI and couch surfs. The world doesn’t owe you. You could talk to your parents about at least some appreciation, but trust me, your hard work will equip you well for the future.
Rachel, 23, Corte Madera: I’m mind-boggled over this myself. But every friend who made tons of money dealing drugs either got caught, or that money went back into drugs, leaving them with nothing but an addiction. I’ve had family on the street because of addictions. I remind myself that my hard work and daily struggles are worth it because I’m healthy, with the ability to succeed in whatever I want to do.
Julian, 16, Napa: Would you rather trade places? It is unfair, but you will have better opportunities.
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: Consider the drug addict as BP Oil. Society hates them for the Gulf spill and their investors must spend like crazy to make them an attractive company again. Say those same investors have holdings in Google. Consider yourself Google. Why pour money into something that isn’t broken? You’re a great company and for that, you get a million dollar bonus! But, wait — that IS your potential! Do drug addicts have that potential? Between relapsing, a criminal record, and their physical appearance, NO. The entitlement generation may want a trophy for being “good,” but it’s its own reward
Christina, 22, Marysville: Your parents are probably oblivious to your perspective. I’m the “good” sibling. While my sisters have had problems, one with a drug addiction, my parents always helped all of us, including paying for my college. Situations like yours can cause family contempt. Plus where’s the incentive to be good when your sibling isn’t and is getting more attention?
Ashley, 26, Auburn: Parents will do anything to save their child’s life and you should be thankful your sister is alive. That said, her post-rehab approach seems lame. I’m glad you aren’t letting this deter you from going to college!
Dear J.N.: You’ve written an important wake-up call for parents. Thank you! If yours don’t hear it, I hope others do. My compassion for those entangled in drugs (as opposed to codependence, which may explain some of what’s bugging you about your sister’s situation) is as strong as ever. I’m also a huge advocate of rewarding and incentivizing good behavior. All children benefit from positive attention and positive incentives. It’s just plain smart to nurture what’s working as well and rehabilitate what isn’t. Sadly, life isn’t always ideal and ultimately, you must be ready to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Even with loans, college is still a good investment. Kudos to you for going forward despite the obstacles! — Lauren
Ask a question or go deeper in today’s conversation at www.straighttalkadvice.org — or write P.O. Box 1974, Sebastopol, CA 95473. Straight Talk Advice.org is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Please consider a donation!