I am very much in love with my husband, but he is doing something that is absolutely freaking me out. Background: He is one of those individuals we often refer to as a "force of nature," and I'm his polar opposite. I'm a financially and emotionally stable worrywart, super-organized, overeducated, and working for a big corporation. He's a high-energy successful entrepreneur, hasn't read a book since junior high, can't balance a checkbook and loves to take risks. When I met him, I was hooked. He is my best friend in the world, and we have enjoyed a seven-year partnership that has been fabulous on many levels.
I've always been pretty straight (law-abiding and drug-avoiding), while he used to be an avid pot smoker. When we met seven years ago, his business and personal finances were in shambles. About a year and a half into our relationship, police came to our home, turned it upside down, and we were both arrested and hauled off to jail for the pot he was growing in the basement. Although it was only for (his) personal use, they tried to charge us both with intent to distribute. This was very traumatic for me -- I never had so much as a speeding ticket, and now I've got a criminal record for something I didn't do (which was of course splashed in sensational terms across the local papers at the time). Although I've always believed in live and let live, I did get up the nerve to tell him he needed to choose between me and his drug. After a brief jail sentence for him and six months of state-mandated drug counseling, he confessed that he had indeed had a problem, and realized his compulsive personality meant that he was unable to be a casual pot user. He chose me.
So, I married him. I had two beautiful babies with him. I keep his life and his business organized and on track, and he keeps my life interesting and fun. We have leveraged our joint assets and my stable corporate income into success in his business and other ventures, and have enjoyed several years of financial windfall. We work hard, play hard, and adore our children. Life hasn't been easy; two pregnancies in two years, plus the hormonal and logistical strain of being hardworking new parents have taken their toll, but I have to say overall life has been very good. Until about a month ago when I smelled pot on him again.
I freaked out and confronted him. He told me it was helping him to quit smoking cigarettes, and that he was only smoking a little every few weeks, blah blah blah. I decided not to make a federal (ultimatum) case out of it, but I asked him not to do it around me. A month went by, and I smelled it on him again. Twice in one weekend, right before dinner, he "toked up" outside and then came in to eat. I am devastated by this. Does he feel he needs to get high to sit across a dinner table from me? I was up all night stressing, tossing and turning, and finally got up, found his (albeit tiny) stash and pipe in his car. I smashed the pipe, shredded the pot, and threw them in the trash.
We're both furious at each other. He claims he has changed, and no longer is susceptible to addiction. He resents my attempt to control him. I still feel scarred by our prior legal troubles. We used to joke that when he would get high, I would get paranoid. It's worse for me this time around. It scares me and worries me to have illegal activity around me or our babies, and I am very hurt that he has so little respect for my feelings. In a very sad tone, he asked me if I was just searching for an excuse to dump him. This shocked me -- I can't imagine my life without him. I very emphatically want him in my life, but I very emphatically want drugs out of it. He very emphatically wants to smoke pot if, when and where he feels like it. How can I reconcile this a) with him, and if that's not possible, b) within myself and our marriage. Please give me some insight -- I can't go back to pretending it doesn't bother me.
Suffering From Reefer Madness
Dear Reefer Madness,
He knows he's got a problem. He said as much. But he doesn't want to have a problem. If he didn't have a problem, then he could smoke pot again. It would be nice to smoke pot again. So he's decided to say he doesn't have a problem.
When someone who knows he has a problem decides to say he doesn't have a problem, that's a problem.
He's already done jail time for possession. Yet he is willing to risk further incarceration in order to smoke pot.
That's a problem.
Personally, I love pot. I'd smoke it all day long if I could. But I can't. I can't even touch it. I know my nature.
I'm just like your husband. I can't be a casual pot smoker.
So what makes him all of a sudden so different? He's smoking pot to help him quit smoking cigarettes?!
I don't buy it. It sounds like the typical course of addictive thought processes.
And so you, my dear, are in a familiar fix. You are living with a husband who has an active substance abuse problem. You are living with an addict, basically. The pattern is quite typical: Lying, minimization, denial, anger, hiding, retribution.
So what do you do about it? You avail yourself of a support network for partners and family members of drug abusers. Did you by any chance happen to get to know the drug counselor or any of the people who were going through the drug counseling program with your husband? That might be the best place to start -- not so you can tell on your husband, but so you can get some help.
There's no telling where this will lead. It's clear, though, that you can't be happily married if your husband continues to smoke pot. So the sooner you begin examining your options, the better.
Now I know to casual pot smokers that might sound excessive, to say he's in the grip of an addiction, to suggest that you might have to leave him because he likes to smoke pot now and then. It's not like he's a heroin addict. But it's not crazy to you, who has to live with him, is it? You're climbing the walls. It's the addictive pattern that is so painful; it doesn't matter so much what the substance is. It's the fact that you're living with somebody who can't control what he does, who can't be honest, and who puts you and your kids in danger.
I have plenty of thoughts about what is going on with him, and I am tempted to share them with you. As an addict, I naturally find other addicts fascinating and sympathetic. But you're the one who wrote to me asking for help, not him. He thinks he's doing just fine.
So please avail yourself of the help I mention. Realize that you are going to have to find some way of detaching. You might look into groups like Nar-Anon, which exist for people who are concerned about the drug problem or addiction of another.
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