Should I live with a marijuana addict who is otherwise a good man?

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Dear Stanton,

I am writing because my boyfriend is a daily pot smoker. We have been together for almost five years and for five years, it has been the one aspect of our relationship that I would consider a huge problem. He has been smoking pot since high school so he has quite an extensive history. Strangely enough, my boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic, went through rehab and AA and has not had a drink in over ten years. He does not smoke cigarettes or do any other drug but needs his daily joint.

I, on the other hand, do not drink, smoke or do anything and never have. The legality of marijuana is not this issue for me as there are legal substances which cause plenty of problems. It is what it does to your body and mind and overall health. Not to mention the addiction (although they may say pot is not addictive physically, only mentally, it is as addictive as can be that’s why people can’t quit). I used to try to get him to quit which got me nowhere. He just can’t. He recently moved in with me. I decided that I would simply have to accept him the way he is. His pot is really his problem not mine. I certainly never made good on my threats to leave because I love him and wanted to be with him. I realized I either had to accept it but not approve of it or leave. When he moved in, I told him that he had to keep it to one designated room. I am not thrilled with this but I guess I am too tired to argue about something he isn’t planning on quitting. He did manage to completely quit marijuana on his own last year (his descision) and kept it up for six months straight. Then he fell back into it. He doesn’t like that he does it but he just finds it so hard to stop.

For some people, this is a simple problem. They would say, “if you don’t like that he smokes it, leave him” or “if he won’t quit for you, then he is not worth having.” It is not as simple as that. He is a good man who is kind and cares about people, does many things for others and treats me wonderfully. We have fun together and it isn’t like he sits on the couch all day and does nothing. He makes a good living and is productive. I think I am doing the right thing by taking the “accept it” approach but I do feel unsure sometimes. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Sincerely,

Abby


Dear Abby,

Thank God he’s not leaving you because you won’t smoke pot! No, I’m sorry for being flippant. I guess I just think the answer to the question, “Should I accept and stay with a man who fits this description?” – “He is a good man who is kind and cares about people, does many things for others and treats me wonderfully. We have fun together and it isn’t like he sits on the couch all day and does nothing. He makes a good living and is productive.” – is “yes.” Actually, he does seem to be susceptible to substance addictions, and I’m guessing marijuana works better for his life than alcohol. Would you like him better if he took antidepressants?

Stanton

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Many of us have been told that addiction is a chronic disease that cannot be cured. We don’t. We believe that addiction is a compelling, destructive involvement that, because it detracts from other areas of people’s lives, forces them to rely with greater exclusivity on the addictive experience they get from the involvement, whether with drugs or anything else:

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Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

Comments

  • Lucy says:

    When I married my husband I knew of his pot smoking. He was successful in his career, family oriented, loving, considerate, warm, etc. He was 38 and I was 32 when we got married. I realized I had a problem with his smoking when he was running low or out. He was inpatient, kind of mean, mentally abusive , obsessive so different from the man I fell in love. I told myself I have to be smarter and keep a low profile when he wasn’t smoking so I wouldn’t trigger his bad temper. We had two kids and he never quit and I honestly didn’t want him to quit. Life was worse if he wasn’t smoking pot and I was an enabler. I should have pressed and asked him to quit and seek professional help for his anxiety. He had smoked since his teens years. He was a heavy smoker and when life and work was more stressful he would smoke more. Don’t take me wrong he was a great guy. Great father, friend, son, uncle, husband but our marriage suffered since he did not want to take trips where he couldn’t smoke his weed. I felt very lonely in this marriage and I take full responsibility for my own mistakes the way I see it now. The last 4 years were the worst since his company was bought out although his high end pay job did not change the new management company put more pressure on his directors. He smoked more to cope with it but he was not happy. I always wonder where we will end up with his smoking since I always fear he would have a heart attack or other health issues. His coughing was bad. Well he is gone. Cancer unknown primary, 2 rounds of chemo and got what the doctors thought was pneumonia but in reality it was the cancer spread to his lungs in the most rapid way. Doctors never seen such an agressive form of cancer. I believe the smoking killed him. He was 56. So think it really hard since your marriage will never be a normal one. And live with the consequences. I had 17 years of happiness and unhappiness, ups and downs. I loved him and he was the love of my life but now he is gone.

  • jenelle says:

    Abby I have a similar situation: my hubbs is smart, funny,kind and caring. He is a great dad. Ever since I met him he has been addicted to pot. When we were younger I would smoke with him, but then I grew up a little, finished school, had our daughter, and realized that pot just wasn’t something that fit in my busy, working mom life, since it made me kind of groggy the next day if I smoked it night before. Through the beginning years, I went through the stages of threatening to break up with him if didn’t quit, getting angry that he was smoking in the house, etc.

    Then I decided that I needed to look big picture to see how this seeming personality flaw weighed against all his good qualities, and ultimately decided that I would accept it as part of who he was, I wouldn’t take it personally when he was “present but not present”, and I tried to communicate to him that I needed him to take nights off from getting stoned so we could actually “be” together. Sometimes it made me feel a little lonely, but I’m a big girl, nothing I couldn’t handle. And I literally had a line in our budget for his pot-I wasn’t happy about it, but I made myself accept it, bad with the good kinda thing. And although he had all the potential in the world to have a meaningful, fulfilling career because he was so smart and funny, he never put in the hard work to grow because he was just too damn stony. He has always made enough money to pull his weight and keep us afloat, so I decided “hey that’s ok, that’s enough for me, he makes me happy, that’s what’s important”.

    Flash forward 11 years: We had a tragedy in the family, and he fucking lost it. Just absolutely fucking lost it, like off the deep end. And I have come to the tragic realization that this was somehow inevitable. During those wonderful 11 years, he never had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the more minor hard things in life–he just got stoned till he didn’t feel the bad feelings anymore. 11 years of emotional development just kind of like lost on him. And I realize now that, looking back, I should have chosen a partner that had developed coping skills-cuz when the shit hits the fan, a loving shoulder from your partner and pot is just not going to cut it if you haven’t already developed at least some rudimentary coping skills. He cheated on me and started drinking during this time, and honestly I guess I should have seen this coming, a long long time ago.

    I am giving him one last chance to get treatment and put in the work to develop coping skills, or I don’t think we will be able to stay together. I will always be afraid for when the next bad thing happens (cuz its life, bad things happen), that the same situation will bubble up again.

    So. I hope this was helpful for you or anyone reading. Honestly, in the end I guess it just all depends on what YOU want, if someone like that is a good fit for you. I have friends whose husbands are super stoners and it doesn’t bother them one bit, they are more independent ladies who honestly enjoy having husbands like that, they like doing their own thing with the kids sans husband. I have a friend who hates that her boyfriend smokes, they fight about it all the time. So I think you just have to look inside yourself and see how that feels for YOU.

  • Ken Thompson says:

    Stay with him. I suggest you start a daily marijuana schedule. There’s many health benefits. Your life will never be the same ever again.

  • Jim Gibson says:

    Be the source of his inspiration to change. Cannabis can be helpful but if he is too addictive, encourage him to be a better man. You can do it with God’s help. If you both love each other, it is possible.

  • Emily says:

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for about six months, and I love him dearly. Like your significant other. He’s an amazing man with a wonderful heart.

    When we saw each other the other day, he threw me a curve ball. (Note: He moved in with his roommate the week before.) He not only mentioned that his roommate’s girlfriend (both are coworkers) smokes weed but he’s planning to start smoking weed when it becomes legal.

    It broke my heart. Now, I’m questioning his motives plus I do not fully trust him anymore. This is in part because I saw the effects of weed took on a friend’s roommate. I’m not sure if I can put myself thru it like my friends. I’m beginning to wonder about our future.

  • Sue says:

    Hello, I am in a relation with 59 year old, never married man who smokes pot from the time he gets up till night when he goes to bed. He lived in a house that he called it barn but I helped him to change the entire house to a better place to live. Now he is asking me to more be responsible with paying his bills that he calls it our bills. He is nice man. He doesn´t eat breakfast but he smokes the pot. I believe he has issues but hidding it behind his pot calmness. I can´t rely financially on him but he calls it emotionally support, which is useless. I am trying to find a way to leave him meanwhile focusing on being helpful if he wants that.
    Thank you for sharing stories and good luck to all.

  • Heart hurts in Va says:

    I love my bf but after six years breaking it off a year and a half ago and being back together few months thereafter I feel I’m at the same place I was before I broke things off. He smokes and while I don’t find the substance itself to be totally awful, I’ve smoked more off than on since being a teen, other contributing factors make it more than hard. He lies about taking money from my account and I know he spends it on weed, and non opioid, but still illegal pills. He lies about how much he consumes and buys for his mother, who also hides her use from his dad that doesn’t consume. He works, even earns more, but still needs money from me due to his drug spending. I want a home, a child and the truth but fear after arguing and trying too many times to count things will never change. Ive stopped even occasionally as I know he uses this to get me on his side. Ultimatum and try in a more strict way or just accept it won’t change and if my goals are important to my happiness I have to end the relationship? Views?, I do love him but I can’t be driven nuts trying when our goals aren’t the same.

  • Heart hurts in Va says:

    I love my bf but after six years breaking it off a year and a half ago and being back together few months thereafter I feel I’m at the same place I was before I broke things off. He smokes and while I don’t find the substance itself to be totally awful, I’ve smoked more off than on since being a teen other contributing factors make it more than hard. He lies about taking money from my account and I know he spends it on weed and non opioid but still illegal pills. He lies about how much he consumes and buts for his mother who also hides her use from his dad that doesn’t consume. I want a home, a child and the truth but fear after arguing and trying too many times to count things will never change. Ultamatim and try in a more strict way or just accept it won’t change and if my goals are important to my happiness I have to end the relationship.

  • Caz says:

    Met my younger husband whilst on holiday, he was working at the hotel. I knew he liked a drink but never knew about the weed addiction until after he came to live with me in the UK. Would not have married him had I known. Apparently he started smoking it as a young teen and this can affect the development of the brain. He was a nightmare to live with at times when he was getting low on his supply, moody silent and angry and would smash things. I began to get scared every morning when he woke up fearing of his moods. I finally saw sense and the bigger picture and what the next 10 to 20 years or so would be like and we separated. It controlled his life, he was emotionally abusive to me, he withdrew socially and had major paranoia issues again something which I believe happens because he started so young. The money it cost deprived us of having a social life too, I worked but he couldn’t hold down a job, I stupidly , but to keep the peace gave him money for his habit. But as I’ve said I managed to get out of the relationship and marriage as proceeding with divorce, just wish I knew about it when I married him though I suspect he would have said that he would have given it up. IMO it destroys relationships.

  • alice says:

    The case is a bit different . I had a crush on someone 2 years ago and i’m 18 now. He smokes weed . But recently he proposed me .Slowly my friends started to talk about him,like those bad things they heard about him. I heard things like he’s addicted to weed,alcohol. What should i do? Should i accept and make him change or continue with my life without him?

  • Charntenae says:

    oh and I don’t mean you as in Abby are the problem , I meant the abuser are. And I forgot to say I also have a job and my boyfrind does aswell. And I i see you posted this years ago but i really do hope you didn’t give up on him

  • Charntenae says:

    Hello!
    I have seen a lot of negative comments here but i guess all these women really does have a hard time or atleast had. But I would like to change their and your mindset if possible. Me and my boyfriend are together now for 4years. We have been smoking pot all the way together. We met at a get together and gor intrigued by eachother. We are both very productive. I am studying law and he just finished studying risk managment and economics. We used to be very lazy, depressed and thought it was the weed. I even broke up with him after I decided not to smoke anymore but then i realized, the depression, anxiety and laziness got worce. All the pressure of my daily life got to the best of me. And I also realized the problem didn’t lay with the weed (humans like blaming things) it lied within myself. I took him back and started working on myself. Now I am a hardcore stoner but I love life. I go to the gym, i jog every morning, i eat and live healthy, i am neat , i do great at my studies and I end this all every night with a joint to relax. I don’t drink alcohol at all, I don’t smoke ciggarettes and I was such a great influence on my boyfriend that he has the exact same lifestyle as me. We still take tolerence breaks but boy I love hitting a bong with him, watching movies and laughing my ass off with him over everything. What I am trying to say is that you should not leave your boyfriend if still has a productive life, has a nice personality and still participate in life. These other men had other phsycological problems (i study it aswell with law). To be honest their pain was rooted deep and weed was the obvious victim of the blame. If a man is lazy, depressed, has anxiety and gets mean when he doesn’t have weed then he probably has a underlying problem and thinks weed helps or will help but you can’t let that you down , unless he is willing to go for phsyocological help. Your man seems amazing!. Keep up with him. All problems starts within!. And if I can give you some advice, try trying it sometime with him and see his perspective on things. He will appreciate it and you will expand your mind and understand him more. Weed isn’t the colprate ,you are!. I bet if you take weed away most of these men will still be the same as they are. And besides I don’t smoke to escape , I love my life! I simply use it because it is part of life!. And I love my boyfrind to bits and I believe we are going to be happy for a very long time ,having a blast all the way. And please don’t let social ideas come to your head, follow your heart (intuition) it knows what you need. Lots of love! Sorry for all you ladies having bad experiences…

  • Nk says:

    I met my boyfriend at 18, he was 19. He was a pot head, i didnt really kno what it was. Just fell for him at a naiive age , still finding myself. After a year weed was becoming a problem where he would put weed first. He would sneak to see his friends to smoke bc he knew i didnt like. I actually felt left out and didnt want to lose him so i tried to smoke. I didnt like it at first but soon after we moved out together i felt more comfortable smoking at home instead car and dark alley hide outs. It helped with my petiod cramps, hangovers and got my appetite up. Food tasted the besttt. I got addicted with him. 12 yrs later im 30, still with him. Im not happy and i know its bc of weed, bad habits . It def doesnt help your mind stability, makes you bipolar moody and impulsive. I tried breaking up bc at this point we are both infected , bitter and cant help each other. If anything we will tempt each other to smoke just by each others presence. I feel like im living in hell cant escape

  • Jen says:

    I am too struggling on coping with a husband that is addicted to pot. My husband is using it even before I met him. If only I knew then about it before I got pregnant I could’ve back off, but It was too late.

    We got married and have two kids now.I always thought he will stopped using it when we had our 1st child, but he never did. He couldn’t accept the fact that he is addicted to it, comparing his usage is nothing to what other people consume. I am so tired of arguing about it. I do not want to leave him. He is a good man and a father to our kids.

    I feel like I am on my own all the time. On his day off he stays in the attic the moment he wakes up and starts smoking. I am worried of what it cant do to him and as well as my kids finding out about it. Nobody knows what I am going through, not even him. He thinks I am over reacting.

    I just keep on praying that one day he will realise what he is doing to himself and to our family. God Bless everyone thanks for taking your time in reading this.

  • Shana says:

    Hello
    Just reading the comments and the man I love is a weed user too. He hates taking showers, brushing his teeth and having breakfast.
    He wanted to rent in my home and as much as I couldn’t give him the house I offered to help with money so that he could pay the deposit etc.
    There were horrible fights, comparisons with the ex-S who did stuff and me who did nothing.
    He constantly threatened to leave and said I was boring because I didn’t want to be tied up. He said we should try 50 shades of grey. I didn’t know what 50sog was about. When he told me I refused.
    Then there were more threats of leaving.
    I was accused of being selfish and so on.
    He claimed I was restricting him and was constantly getting enraged.
    As he said it was “all because of you”

    I’m upset but after he hit me I asked him to return my money.

  • Daniel says:

    I am married to this man who is also addicted to weed. We have been married for 11 years now. Am 32 and he is 47. I want to leave him but am scared he is going to take my kids away. We had a big argument couple of months ago and he threatened to take the kids away from me. He cares for his family but am tired of feeling anxious and scared when he doesn’t have weed because I know is going to be big argument which will leave the kids scared. I don’t know what to do. Everyone thinks I have this perfect marriage and I don’t want to let people down.

  • Lou says:

    I’ve been married to a good guy for 38 years. Hes smoked pot & lied about it up until this day. I’ve been a good wife to him. We no longer sleep together. He coughs constantly. He always says he will quit but never does. He only says that when I find it. I’m so sick of his lies & deceit. Today is Sunday. We went to church & he’s sneaking around in his shed smoking pot. I take a pill for depression. I feel ubsafe with all the lies & deceits I have had for so many years. It’s like our marriage always takes 2bd place. I wish I had left many years ago. Now I’m 63 & I’ve given everything to a man that only thinks of himself. You young girls….it will never end. Leave & find you an honest, reliable, mature man that wants to experience life & not escape it.

  • Sally says:

    I too am in a similar situation, my partner is 61 and we have been together for 10 years. What really bothers me is l have been conned as 4 years ago he made a point of showing me his bong in the rubbish, and told me he would not use anymore. But l have always been suspicious and a few months ago discovered his bong and pot and cigarettes in a locked cupboard in his shed. Not only has he continued to use but he is also drinking a
    2 – 3 bottles of whisky a week. On a recent weekend away together he got really drunk and verbally ranted at me for over 6 hours about whats wrong with me! His personality is all over the place and making life difficult. And yet he has a good job with responsibilities! I have two adult children living
    with us and also now have a grandchild to protect. I dont want any of them around this. But l feel sorry for my partner, he has no children of his own or family that he cares about and friends are few. I have to get out of this relationship but l’m really scared. I dont know how to end it. Any suggestions would be a great help! Sally

  • Michelle says:

    Hi Leaha, Let him go, I have just done the same thing, I’m 61 and my partner is 57, a successful business man and I’m also a professional. We have been together for 10 years and he adores me. I also have the problem of him drinking after work at a social club, and find myself eating alone In the evening. I find when I have a little grumble he will explode into a rage, I’m not prepared for a further 10 years of this. I feel pretty strong this time as it’s not the first time I have told him to leave. He has no interest in anything really outside the office. You’re worth more than that.

  • Sandybay says:

    I always have had a problem with my partners use of marijuana. Although I don’t think I admitted it to myself.When we got together it was an issue for the first year. He stopped and I think was clean for several years. We’ve been together 12 years now. Over the last few years he’s been using again and also other drugs. Life got harder and he leaned on it to cope. I’m learning a lot about addiction and that it’s a progressive disease. It tends to get worse over time. Over the last year he became more and more abusive to me. I learned that he was using hard drugs behind my back. When I confronted him about his drug use, he told me that he would continue to lie to me. I asked him how he expected to have a relationship founded on lies and he didn’t seem too concerned. Then he said that he no longer wanted to be with me. He said he’d never been happy in the relationship. He is quite depressed from what I can tell. He doesn’t seem to connect any of his problems with us or with his life in general to the drug use. That is often the case with addicts I’ve discovered. They don’t see their use as a problem. I’ve started to ask myself why i am even drawn to him when he treats me badly and rejects me. I’ve been learning a lot about codependency as well. I think with educating myself about the issues and working on myself I’m starting to believe that I deserve a healthy intimate relationship. I feel sorry for him because I think he’s living a shutdown life. But I can’t change him I’ve realized. It’s devastating to end a 12 year relationship. I wish I’d had the courage to walk away earlier. I guess It had to get really bad before I could see it for the problem it was.

  • Miss Purple says:

    Hi ., im also living with man who is Marijuana user and now he turning 50. I find its really not healthy for me to live with though he is hard working person. But due to his drinking and smoking his patient and control is gone. I always ask myself why I’m still living with him. Yes i love him but never the marijuana will never happen. I never dream in my live to retire with a marijuana user. Sometimes i think if i let him go he will find way to stop it to other partner. Im very conservative when it comes to that cause i know even people say its ok my heart says its not ok. I feel sad because i know he is a good man too. But i have my dreams in life. I just pray that one day he will decide to quit it while its not too late for both of us. I always read post about it. i don’t even know what to do!

  • leaha says:

    Tonight i left the man i really love due to a pot habbit it affects his mind and he become abusive when he doesnt have it. Im from a successful family and i have 2 very successful academic and sporting kids who thinnk my partner is a loser. This has been the toughest decision Ive ever made because he is the first man that Ive truely loved. Feeling craap tonight and up for a chat with anyone that will listen.

  • Melanie says:

    If you can accept it then stay. But, I’m guessing you’ve written this because you cannot actually accept it so leave him. Why waste your life living with someone who will always choose a substance over you. It’s exhausting. End it now before it’s too late.

  • E. Boyd says:

    I don’t know when this was posted, I hope that your boyfriend has found the strength to stop.
    My boyfriend also smokes, he has since he was 14, he is now 55.
    We have been together for 25 year, I stayed with him because I also thought he was a good man, but now I have my bags packed because we are about to lose our home and are about to be on the street.
    He lost his job 6 years ago, and has not really looked for work, he’d rather smoke all day, he did get a job through a temp agency but lost it because they drug test, they told him he could reapply after a year which he did but was rejected for employment because he failed the drug test.
    I say the best thing for your well being and health is to wish him well and leave, don’t be like me, I suffer with depression and support the both of us on my disability and savings. Run for your life dear, it will never improve.

  • cordelle says:

    what if they get married wouldn’t it have an effect on their baby’s?

  • Rose says:

    Abby, you need to leave him. As much as it hurts, you have to know down in your heart that you’ll be happier elsewhere.
    I’m going through the same thing right now, he just won’t stop. We’ve fought so many times. But, I don’t have the strength to leave him. I love Him and he is a good man otherwise.

    God can help you if you ask, but it’s going to take a lot out of you so when you leave, make sure you are ready. I’ll be praying for you.

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