My long-term boyfriend smokes pot every day and won't quit. He smokes for anxiety issues and prefers pot to the pharma drugs that dumb him out. He isn't a deadbeat—has a stable career, and is very intelligent. He treats me well and we have an awesome relationship. However, I don't feel comfortable with him being so dependent on a drug. I also worry if I know the "real" him minus the high. I know pot isn't a big issue in society now, so am I creating a problem in my head? Or is this something that I should be concerned about while considering him as a prospect hubby?

by Simone Kornfeld

Upon reading your question the first thing we asked ourselves is, what is your guy so anxious about? It seems clear that your boyfriend is using marijuana to self-medicate. The type of self-medication is of less interest to us—it could be alcohol, sex, Xanax, shopping or gambling. But whatever his “drug” of choice happens to be, the intended effect is to numb emotional and psychic suffering. These vices serve to temporarily mask difficult feelings and uncomfortable states, yet they will never remove the underlying issues. So in your boyfriend’s case our question is, what is really going on beneath the behavior? What are the feelings and thoughts he’s trying to manage by smoking pot? The fact that you are asking this question shows that your instincts are telling you something is off. You’re probably right. Your partner may be avoiding whole parts of his inner experience by getting high. And it would be near impossible for him to fully connect with you when he hasn’t fully connected with himself. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you deeply, it sounds like he does. It just means he has some stuff to work through for himself, as we all do.

Fortunately it seems that your guy is still functional: he goes to work and maintains relationships. He is even self-aware enough to admit his dependence on MJ. This points to a good prognosis. We recommend that you kindly voice your concerns about his usage and encourage him to take active steps toward self-discovery. It is only natural that you would be concerned for his health, both physical and emotional. Tell him that you love him and want to deepen your connection over time, and you’re afraid his usage could prevent your relationship from evolving. Encourage him to find a good therapist and explore what’s going on with this “anxiety”. Through therapy, and perhaps a more appropriate medication monitored under the care of a good doctor, he will have the opportunity to work through his feelings and learn to manage his stress without pot.  More likely than not, this will also lead to deeper intimacy and honesty in his relationship with you.

But remember that you cannot force him to make changes. He must do it for himself. If after some time you don’t see a shift, you may have to exit the relationship. But whether or not you’re together forever and ever, we hope that your boyfriend will realize that the monsters he’s trying to avoid are not as scary as they might seem. With dedication and courage all of us have the ability to heal our wounds and free ourselves from the grip of our personal vices.