Dear Abby: Beneficiary uses hardship gift for other purposes

DEAR ABBY: I have a moral and ethical dilemma. I nominated a co-worker for a benefit through our company. The person was awarded what I consider to be a good sum ($5,000) for replacement hearing aids.

Seven months have gone by and this person "still has the check" and hasn't used the money for its intended purpose. They bought two "beater" cars and took a trip to New York City. I feel like I was duped. Should I call the hotline and let the foundation know my suspicions, or let it go? I feel that this person got away with what I feel are dirty deeds. What to do? -- REGRETTING IT IN THE WEST

DEAR REGRETTING IT: What to do is contact the foundation that sent the generous check, explain your concerns and leave the ball in their court. They may, indeed, wish to follow up -- and possibly inform the police -- if there was fraud involved.

DEAR ABBY: I'm stuck in a rut here. My girlfriend is anxious and depressed. I love her very much, and I want to help her. I understand that someone with anxiety and depression can be a handful, but sometimes I feel like I'm dealing with too much. My girlfriend is so deep in this state that no matter how I try, it seems like she doesn't want my help at all. How do I deal with this? I feel like I'm going mad. -- NEED GUIDANCE IN THE EAST

DEAR GUIDANCE: I am sure you love your girlfriend very much, but it is important to realize that depression and anxiety are medical conditions. You cannot fix them. The most helpful thing you can do for your girlfriend would be to convince her to discuss what's going on with her doctor so she can be referred to a licensed mental health provider. Medications are available that could help her, as well as talk therapy, which she may also need.

DEAR ABBY: I've been a dental assistant for more than 20 years, and I'd like to share an observation with your readers. Over the years, we've seen many patients who diligently take care of their oral hygiene. Then, suddenly, we notice decay both clinically and on X-rays -- after years of no decay. We ask them, "Are you taking a new medication that's causing dry mouth? Have you started drinking some different beverage? Have you been eating more sweets?" More often than not, they tell us nothing's changed.

The problem often is sugar where they don't expect it -- in fiber supplements, meal replacement shakes, gummy vitamins, chewable antacids, vitamin water, etc. Many of these items contain a surprising amount of sugar. Please encourage your readers to read the nutrition labels of their SUPPLEMENTS. It could save their teeth. -- ANTI-DECAY IN DALLAS

DEAR ANTI-DECAY: Thank you very much for educating my readers and me. This is something I had never considered, and I'll bet many of them haven't either. Your letter is an important one, and I hope they will heed it as I plan to.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)