Dear Annie: I am a recovering alcoholic who stopped drinking five years ago. Life was great until I

Dear Annie: I am a recovering alcoholic who stopped drinking five years ago. Life was great until I realized that I could get a buzz from cough medicine. The hardest part is that I'm convinced the abuse is making me more creative.
I'm a professional living alone, so I have no one to answer to. I don't want the "high" to sound too appealing. The downside is becoming more obvious, and now, three years later, I can barely keep my head above water. I'm sure I am messing myself up physically as well. Can you tell me more about the damage I am doing? I need help. Addicted in South Carolina
Dear Addicted: Some cough medicines contain a drug that, in high doses, acts as a hallucinogen or dissociative agent. As you build up a tolerance, you will need more and more of it to get the same high.
Here's the downside: Common effects include confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech, abdominal pain, nausea, irregular heartbeat, itchy skin, dry mouth, headaches, drowsiness, impaired coordination, disorientation and numbness in the fingers. Higher doses can lead to auditory and visual hallucinations, vomiting, loss of muscle control, seizures and loss of consciousness. Although long-term effects are just now being studied, there is some evidence linking abuse to dental decay, memory loss, speech problems, hand tremors and personality changes.
If you were once addicted to alcohol and have moved on to cough medicine, you need help before you find something else to abuse. Please try Narcotics Anonymous (, P.O. Box 9999, Van Nuys, Calif. 91409.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to "Perplexed in Pennsylvania," who was upset because she received bridal shower invitations asking for cash gifts. I don't find anything wrong with this. My fiance and I lived together and had all the usual household items, so I had a coin shower. We wanted to remodel our house, and money was much more useful than a bunch of kitchen utensils.
Let us enjoy ourselves. It is our wedding. What's the difference if we ask for money or return all the unwanted gifts? To the Point in Wisconsin
Dear Wisconsin: The point of a bridal shower is to help the new couple set up their home. Since you've done that, the hostess can plan a gourmet food shower, a wine shower, or even an entertainment shower with tickets to restaurants and concerts. These gifts should be mementos of the giver, and money doesn't do the trick. The guests have made a great effort to select something they thought you would like. It shouldn't be such a burden to return items you don't want.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Cambridge, Mass.," who said her husband told his mother personal things about their life together, including every medication she was taking. My husband did the same thing. He'd tell his mother, who then blabbed to the entire family.
When I needed a biopsy done, I made my husband promise he would tell no one, and he said, "Sure, yeah." Two months later, my mother-in-law asked me how the biopsy went. I became quite angry and said to the man I'd been married to for over 30 years, "I trusted you, and you crushed my soul. I won't repeat that mistake."
My husband never understood my pain at his betrayal, but I never confided in him again. Thank you for saying that trust is the bottom line in a marriage. Better Now in Worcester, Mass.
Dear Worcester: Some people cannot keep their mouths closed. They don't necessarily mean any harm, but it hurts nonetheless. Thanks for writing.
XE-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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