She aspires to be a pothead!

I finally quit my daily habit. Now my girlfriend wants to smoke all the time!

Published September 18, 2013 11:00PM (EDT)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

I smoked pot daily from 1999 to 2011. I chose to stay home alone and smoke rather than meet up with friends, go out on dates or see family. For one year, mid-2007 to mid-2008, my only social contact was with my next-door neighbor, a pot dealer. I always dropped by his place to smoke and never offered anything in return. I was devastated when I came home one day and he'd moved out in the middle of the night without saying anything to me, but then it hit me how pathetic and parasitic he'd probably viewed me.

Pot came first in my life, and I hated what my addiction did to my sociability, creativity and work ethic, but I got high anyway and always thought about getting high when I was sober. I knew how horribly my addiction affected my life, but I developed a very defeatist attitude toward it. While high, I lamented all of the things that I could be doing if only I were sober, but when I was sober, all I wanted to do was get high.

Finally, my mom checked into rehab for alcohol addiction, which caused me to quit smoking and drinking. In the nearly two years that followed, I only smoked once, at a Halloween party last year. I've developed great habits -- work, exercise, cleaning, cooking, writing, socializing -- and have painfully cut pot-smoking friends from my life, some of whom I've known since childhood. I love my life right now, and I love not smoking pot.

So now the relationship part. "Helen" and I have been friends for 12 years. We're both in our mid-30s. We met through mutual friends, and when we met she was dating a former classmate of mine. We both had crushes on each other but were never single at the same time. This went on until three months ago, when I broke up with my girlfriend and Helen wasn't dating anyone.

Helen wanted to start dating, but I told her I needed a little time, as I didn't want to jump into another relationship immediately. We finally got together a month ago and have enjoyed each other's company as we'd both always hoped we would. On our second date, though, she told me casually that she wanted to become a pothead. She'd always liked pot but had always preferred drinking, so she drank way more often than she smoked. However, she was getting tired of hangovers and she just really wanted to come home after work and smoke a joint.

When Helen told me she wanted to become a pothead, this worried me. We kept seeing each other, though, because we get along so incredibly well. However, a couple of weeks ago she took me to a party where everyone was smoking pot, and for the first time in a year, I gave in and smoked. Last week, we went to a bar, and people were smoking joints, inside and out on the patio. This past weekend, she took a friend home from work in exchange for a pipe, then cooked dinner for some friends in exchange for some pot. She told me this when I went to her place last night. When she told me she had pot, I got that adrenaline rush I'd always get when someone pulled out their stash. She didn't offer me any, but for a minute I wanted her to.

Because she's so enamored with me, I expect that she'd offer to give up pot if that was my condition for dating her. However, she's taken steps within the past few days to achieve her goal of becoming a pothead, and most of her friends smoke, and the parties/bars she goes to are filled with pot. I've run through a hypothetical in which a friend who had a drinking problem for years asks for my advice when he starts dating a girl who wants to become an alcoholic, and the answer, very clearly, is "don't date her." "But she says she won't drink if we're dating." "Yes, but she said repeatedly that she wants to be an alcoholic and she's acquired a bunch of liquor. Don't date her."

I've never dated a girl who I get along with as well as I get along with her. Do you think I should end this before it gets serious? Should I see if she's willing to give up pot in order to date me? Part of me thinks this can work if I make serious efforts to abstain when in the presence of pot and to avoid those situations as much as possible, but I don't know if I can do that. I only have so much will-power. I absolutely dread becoming a pothead again.

Nip It In The Bud?

Dear Nip It In The Bud?

This relationship is dangerous to your well-being. You need to get away from this woman.

You don't seem to see the danger. Or maybe you do but you're not responding appropriately.

Here's what I think is going on. As the child of an alcoholic, you learned to pretend that the person closest to you is not actually destroying herself. You learned to play along with her lies. It is natural for a child of an alcoholic to pretend. It's unbearable to see your mother ruining her life. So you pretend. It saves you from what is emotionally unbearable. But the pretending becomes an emotional habit. And now this habit of pretending threatens to destroy your own precarious success in quitting pot.

I feel for you, man. I think you can be fine if you can get out of this alluring, seductive trap. But you're going to have to be clear and firm and not negotiate. I'd just walk away.

Seriously: You get along so well, you say. Why? Because you have learned to get along with self-destructive women. You probably associate self-destructive behavior with a mother's love.

So get away from this woman until you can begin to feel an appropriate outrage at her behavior. Get away from her and get into Al-Anon. There you can learn the effect your mother's alcoholism has had on your judgment, and why you find it hard to distinguish between people who love you and care about you and people who think it would be amusing to plunge you back into your addiction.

You've had some success quitting on your own, but there will be times when there's nothing between you and that joint except another person who's also working to stay clean. When you find yourself blindly flirting with a seductive and self-destructive partner, it's useful to have others about you who can see what is happening and help you change course. Plus, being in a program can help you see the role addiction has played in your relationship with your mother.

Personally, this infuriates me. Part of that is because I have some history with this sort of thing, I'll admit that. It pushes my buttons.

I'm not amused. I've seen too much misfortune to be amused.

And it isn't just about you and her. It's about the ripple effect of addiction throughout families and societies. If she becomes an addict and then decides it would be amusing to have children, then here come more children raised by a spaced-out, inconsistent, unreliable mom.

But the ruin does not have to spread. A pattern that may stretch back many generations can be stopped.

So have some backbone. Put your survival ahead of your infatuation. Back away.

By Cary Tennis

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Addiction Al-anon Alcoholism Marijuana Marijuana Addiction Pot Pot Smoking Recovery Since You Asked