Dear Annie: My 27-year-old son was just released from prison after serving 18 months on drug charges.
While there, he was enthusiastic about turning his life around, saying he’d find a job and attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings when he got out.
Since his release, however, he has not attended a single meeting and has done very little to find work.
He lives with his mother, consuming caffeine and mooching off of her.
My heart breaks that my son had such a positive attitude toward changing his life while in prison and, except for the drugs, is now back to his old behavior.
While he was incarcerated, I spoke to him every week.
But now he rarely calls or visits, and we live only a few miles apart.
I am devastated that he doesn’t want to help himself.
What can I do? — Bummed Out in Bradenton, Fla.
Dear Bradenton: Your son may be depressed.
He may have given up on finding work when he noticed jobs are scarce and most employers are reluctant to hire ex-cons.
Don’t wait for him to call or visit.
Go see him. He needs your emotional support and encouragement.
Check city hall or the governor’s office to see whether there are programs to help ex-offenders.
Goodwill Industries does some job training and placement, and the military also accepts some enlistees who have a criminal record.
Offer to go with him to NA meetings.
And you should look into Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) for families and friends of drug addicts. Good luck.
Dear Annie: Last year, President Obama signed new legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.
It was a huge victory for teens like me who have been targeted by tobacco companies for decades, but there is still work to be done.
My city has enacted an ordinance eliminating smoking in most workplaces, but tobacco companies are still finding new and clever ways to hook kids on tobacco.
My town has been a test market for new smokeless tobacco products, which include dissolvable orbs, sticks and tiny pouches disguised in colorful packaging that look like small breath mints or gum.
Instead of doing nothing, I have spent the past year working with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as a youth advocate, letting people know that Big Tobacco is still trying to target and influence teens.
We need to do more on the state level to pass laws that protect kids and to send a message that we will not be manipulated.
One way your readers can get involved is by visiting tobaccofreekids.org and learning more about what is being done in their home state. — Emily Kile, age 18, Greenfield, Ind.
Dear Emily: Thank you for a persuasive call to arms.
We hope all our readers will visit the website and learn what they can do to help.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from Cornered in California, whose friends use their entire paycheck for the husband’s cancer medications, and now they’ve been evicted.
Please tell them to call United Way’s three-digit social services line at 2-1-1.
The couple can also visit a local United Way office or other social service offices in their area.
Look under social services in the Yellow Pages. Good luck to them.— Concerned for the Homeless
Dear Concerned: Thank you for the excellent information. We have mentioned 2-1-1 (211.org) in the past and are happy to do so again.
Currently, this number serves all or part of 46 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and sections of Canada.
It connects people with community services and volunteer opportunities.
It is spearheaded by United Way and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems.
Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.