DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have a friend, "Will," who is 25. We've known him several years, and he has always been a very down-to-earth, pleasant, easygoing person. However, it has become apparent that Will is bipolar and is currently in the middle of an extreme manic episode that has lasted for about a month. He agreed to go to a doctor for evaluation, and was immediately put on lithium, which he is not taking regularly, if at all. He has refused further treatment.

While Will is not violent, he has had at least one car accident that probably gave him a concussion, and he has wandered aimlessly in the desert and city for days, barefoot in hot temperatures, which resulted in dehydration. Now he is getting worse. He thinks he is superhuman, and he's hearing voices.

We feel he needs 24-hour companionship and support. Whenever he is left alone, Will runs away and disappears &

although he eventually calls to be picked up. He has disappeared for up to a week at a time and has run away three times now. He has no sense of reality at this point. He thinks he has transcended to a new level of understanding and doesn't want to lose his new "insight." He also has personal issues with his parents, so he doesn't want to stay with them.

We are no longer able to take Will into our home because the last time we did it ended badly, and it's obvious he needs professional help that we are unable to provide. We're afraid if he doesn't get treatment, he will hurt himself. How can we help him?

"" JENNY IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR JENNY: I took your question to Paul Fink, M.D., a past president of the American Psychiatric Association. After I read him your e-mail, he agreed that your friend is out of control, and your concerns are valid.

Will should be taken to an emergency room. You should inform them that he is suicidal and describe his car accident and days spent wandering in the desert. In order to save his life, he needs to be admitted to a 24-hour facility and medicated until he is calm and rational enough for release.

DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man I'll call "Alain" for 2 1/2 years. Both of us have a problem with alcohol.

I entered AA and have been sober for nearly a year. Alain hasn't entered AA, but (I thought) he hasn't had a drink in three years and regularly (I thought) takes Antabuse as an incentive not to drink.

He recently admitted to me that he is not consistent with the Antabuse, and that on a "free" evening he will drink a bottle of wine, hiding this from me and his children, who are very much afraid of his drinking again.

My AA friends are divided on what to do next. Both my parents were alcoholics, so I'm afraid to be with someone who isn't in the program. What do you recommend?

"" NEEDS ADVICE IN VERMONT

DEAR NEEDS ADVICE: Follow your instincts. Because both of your parents were alcoholics, you know what that kind of marriage is like. Alain may be a "wonderful man," but he is neither honest nor committed to sobriety. Therefore, if you're looking for a lifetime partner, you need to look for someone who is also in the program.

To put it another way, there's a price to be paid for the choices we make. In this case, Alain's choice has been to continue drinking &

and it has cost him YOU.

DEAR ABBY: My in-laws think that my husband and I are hard up financially. We both work good jobs that pay well for our area. We have nice cars and own our home.

The in-laws constantly try to give us money! Any little thing we do, they write us a check &

like watching their house while they're on vacation, taking care of their animals, etc.

I haven't cashed their checks in years. I thought that maybe this would do the trick, but it hasn't. We pride ourselves on paying our own way and surviving on our own. What would be a proper and tactful way to tell them we appreciate their thoughtfulness but we're doing just fine?

"" INDEPENDENT DUO IN SIOUX FALLS, S.D.

DEAR INDEPENDENT DUO: How about just saying it in English, the way you have said it to me? Your in-laws appear to be caring and generous people who love you both. I'm sure they are not trying to imply that you are not independent and capable when they write those checks &

they are trying to share their wealth. This is perfectly acceptable, by the way, and you should not resent it.

Have a loving chat with them. And if they continue to give you money, bank it and use it to throw them a special celebration on one of their "big" anniversaries.

DEAR ABBY: I have a unique problem. I have a very youthful appearance, and it never fails that I am taken to be 18 years old. It doesn't matter how I'm dressed, if I wear makeup or how I wear my hair. It's always the same thing.

Most people insist that being carded all the time is a compliment, but to me it isn't because it negatively impacts my social life. Inevitably, the only men who approach me are young men who think that I'm their age, and "dirty old men" who immediately lose interest once I tell them I'm 34. Also, when I try online dating I never get anywhere.

I'm at a complete loss on how to meet a decent man my age or a little older because I feel that the type of man that I would want would never approach a woman young enough to be his daughter. Can you tell me anything I can do about my situation?

"" FOREVER YOUNG IN NEW ORLEANS

DEAR FOREVER YOUNG: Something I learned when I was quite young was that people have to "play the hand they are dealt." Perhaps it's time to consider that in many cases, age is only a number, and ask yourself whether your standards are too rigid.

Today, many women your age (and older) are happily coupled with younger men &

and while men in their teens and early 20s may be too young for you, someone in his late 20s and early 30s might be "just right." My advice is to explore this line of thinking, loosen up, and stop prejudging men who might be interested in you. Then let me hear from you again in six months.

DEAR ABBY: When I was growing up, I was taught it is poor manners to chew gum in public. My family and my teachers would never allow it.

I had to change seats at a board of education meeting recently because a woman was popping gum so loudly behind me. I then noticed a member of the board was chewing gum as well! I have also seen nurses and doctors chewing it. Is gum chewing in public accepted today?

"" SMALL-TOWN ALABAMA

DEAR SMALL-TOWN ALABAMA: Obviously, it is. However, it's supposed to be done "discreetly" &

not like a herd of cows chewing their cud. And, "popping" one's gum is considered rude when it can annoy other people.

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