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Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Is My Boyfriend an Addict?

Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Is My Boyfriend an Addict?

Dear Dr V ~

I’ve been dating this guy for almost six months. We met at a party, and I still think about our first conversation. He was just so charming, smart, funny, not to mention very handsome. We went out the following weekend after that, and here we are six months later. At first I felt totally swept off my feet, but now I feel like clouds are rolling in. I recently discovered that he smokes a lot of pot. As in daily. I found this out because I caught him getting high when I stopped by unannounced this past weekend. I got upset because though he told me he smoked occasionally, I didn’t know that he was keeping it in his house, doing it alone, and so on. I don’t want to be with a drug user. I don’t smoke pot, and don’t feel comfortable around it (we live in California and he has a prescription, so I guess there’s no legal stuff to worry about, but still). Either way I feel like the spell has been broken and I have to make a choice now about this relationship. What do you think?


Dear Brenda,

Like many of the folks who write to me, it seems you have answered your own question in how you asked it, which leads me to think that you know already what needs to be done, and are simply looking to me for affirmation to do it. And, seeing as I agree with you, I’ll go ahead and give you that affirmation; once now, and once at the end of my reply, after we chat about this a moment.

So, the first affirmation: Yes. Leave this guy.

Here’s why:

What you’ve described to me is classic addict behavior. Like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this guy wooed you with finer qualities before letting his guard down enough for you to see the ickier warts and what not that lay beneath.

Without getting into a legal discourse on the absurd yet draconian nature of our drug laws, suffice to say that, legal or not, marijuana remains a drug, just as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are drugs. Much has been made of the idea that while marijuana is not physically addictive, one can develop a psychological dependency. In other words, it’s addictive, you just won’t go through the physical trauma of withdrawal when trying to kick the habit as the victims of opiates and stronger narcotics do. Also, its growing social acceptance makes it trickier to discern when its presence is as innocuous as cosmos at a cocktail party, or when it is in fact being employed as a deflector shield against the users own emotions or unwanted perceptions of reality.

That being said, it sounds like your boyfriend probably has a problem with pot.  I realize that not every pot smoker is an addict, just as everyone who drinks alcohol isn’t an alcoholic. The red flag for me is the secretive and deceitful way in which he presented his use to you (I think we can all agree that “occasional” and “daily” do not mean the same thing). This leads me to think that he is either in denial about the nature of his habit, or he is aware it is an issue and wishes to hide it. Either way, the matter of pot smoking is obviously a major one for you; it’s something that concerned you enough to inquire about right at the relationship’s inception, and you were compelled to seek my advice on it. Perhaps worst of all, this guy was dishonest with you about something that is obviously a make or break condition. So a major part of your relationship’s foundation has in fact been based on a lie.

What troubles me more than this guy’s daily intake of THC is a single line in your question. You said that you “caught” him getting high. There are numerous other ways you could have put that (“I found him getting high”, “I discovered him”, etc). Maybe I’m off the mark here, but you almost sound as if you assumed a maternal role there, like you were his mom walking in on him rolling a joint on his Led Zeppelin album (I know record albums don’t exist anymore, but you know what I mean). My concern is that, just as an addictive behavior may lay nascent in a drug-user before they get their first taste of whatever chemical it is that releases their awful genie, you may have latent co-dependent tendencies. Without knowing you better, what your home life was like and family history is, there’s no way for me to know if you yourself have been primed by your past to step into a role as a dysfunctional caretaker for an addict/alcoholic. Without getting into the gory details, please know that is a place you do not want to go to, as it’s a prison just as painful and damaging as addiction itself, and equally hard to escape. You have to ask yourself, if this guy not only appears to be living a live anathema to what you believe to be right, but was also dishonest with you about it, why do you want to stay with him? Do you hope to “fix” him or (yikes), save him? If that is even a niggling thought in your mind I hope you are able to turn from it, as it is a fool’s errand to attempt such a thing. Nobody can damn or save us but ourselves. Sad and unfair perhaps, but those are the rules we must play by in this life.

Six months is at once an eye blink and a decent stretch in “relationship time”. You are definitely beyond the point of just seeing each other or dating, and as such deeper truths are being revealed. As I said before, I really do think you answered this question for yourself. If you don’t mind, I’ll quote you again, “The spell is broken.” If that is indeed the case, why continue to act spellbound if you see things as they are?

As promised, I’ll close as I opened:

Yes. Leave this guy.

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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