Annie's Mailbox: Girl's relationship with sister waning

Dear Annie: My relationship with my younger sister is on the tip of breaking. "Lana" is 15 and habitually goes through my things and steals from me. When confronted, she becomes defensive and lies. She's been doing this for years and shows no sign of stopping. Mom says she is "trying her hardest" to rectify the problem, but nothing changes.

Lana has taken CDs, books, clothes, personal hygiene items, gifts from friends, jewelry and money. She is not a kleptomaniac. She is just evil and spiteful. I'm convinced this would end if I could put a lock on my bedroom door, but my mother won't hear of it. She says she doesn't want us to live that way, but we already live that way.

I can barely afford to pay for college fees and textbooks, let alone move out and replace all my stuff.

I can't take it anymore. What do I do?

- Debbie

Dear Debbie: Go to the hardware store, buy a lock and put it up yourself. Show your mother this letter, and tell her we said to do this. We don't know if Lana has some mental health issues or is just excessively jealous of you, but if Mom can't get her to stop stealing, professional help might curb her more damaging behavior. We also recommend you start saving your money and find a way to move out of the house as soon as possible.

Dear Annie: I attended a wedding dinner at an upscale hotel. A table just outside the dining room was set up for wedding gifts. I left my present on that table like everyone else.

Weeks passed and I did not receive a thank-you note, so I began to wonder if the couple had received my gift. Sure enough, it had gotten lost and they never saw it. Am I obligated to buy another present?

- Still Wondering in Alabama

Dear Alabama: You are not obligated to replace a gift that was lost through no fault of your own, although if you are particularly close to the family, you may wish to do so. This is why we strongly recommend that gifts be sent directly from the store to the home. That way, if anything is lost or missing, it can be traced and replaced by the store. Open display tables of gifts are not uncommon, but there is an unfortunate risk of theft or loss.

Dear Annie: I want to thank "A Doctor in California" for his statement that not everyone who uses pain medication is an addict. I particularly appreciated his sentence stating: "If it is prescribed by a physician and his condition monitored regularly for the purpose of improving function and maximizing potential, it is legal and beneficial." He goes on to say if he can't cure his patient, his next goal is to alleviate suffering.

I've suffered a chronic and debilitating pain condition for years. I went through the gamut of natural remedies (massage, acupuncture, you name it), and over-the-counter painkillers. Too many of us are accused of being addicts because we need painkillers to have some quality of life. There is so much media blitz about addictions and so many abusers that it hurts those of us who truly need prescription assistance.

To hear from a doctor who understands what we face, physically and socially, brought tears to my eyes.

- A Chronic Pain Patient

Dear Patient: Many readers, and their families, were grateful that doctor wrote.

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