is daily weed smoking normal or a sign of underlying issues?
February 18, 2014 10:47 PM   Subscribe

my SO smokes weed pretty much every day. is it safe to assume that this is some kind of self-medication for stress or anxiety, and if so, what are the best ways that i can help as a partner?

i realize that drugs have different effects on different individuals, and i don't really have a problem with weed in and of itself, but i have become a little concerned about the fact that my SO partakes every single day, with only the rare exception. he also takes antidepressants for persistent headaches, although he seems to be in denial that these might actually be caused by depression. (i.e. he's been to numerous doctors who have found nothing physically wrong, but he continues to wonder aloud what could possibly be causing these persistent headaches, etc.)

for a while, i kept my thoughts mostly to myself because i wasn't sure how i really felt about it... and i'm still not completely sure which are my own opinions and which have just been influenced by negative social stereotypes. but i've now tried to bring it up on a couple of occasions in the form of questions about what it does for him, what he feels is positive and/or negative about it, how he defines addiction to a substance, etc., without much enlightenment. it recently came to a head, though, when i stepped into critical territory after feeling weird about the fact that he'd gotten up earlier than me to smoke before the day had even started. (usually it's a nightly thing, and the fact that it was the first thing he did kind of bothered me for whatever reason.)

i could tell he was high, and i felt concerned that he something was wrong or he was upset about something, but he insisted that this was not the case. he became startlingly defensive about his habits and seemed genuinely shocked that i'd been harboring some conflicted feelings about it, as though i were suddenly attacking his character or something. it became pretty clear to me that the weed is here to stay... although, honestly, what concerns me most is the probability (i feel) that he's using it to cover up other problems. i'm not sure what these might be specifically, but i suppose it could be untreated depression of some sort that he's self-medicating.

i love the guy, and he's a great partner in almost all respects. i have no intentions of asking him to completely quit smoking, and i'm aware from my own experience that asking or telling people to change is never helpful... they have to want to do it themselves. i guess i'd just kind of like to get to the bottom of WHY he feels the need to smoke every day. he says it helps him relax, focus on tasks, and appreciate small everyday things. i feel concerned that it's masking stressors and perhaps causing complacency with situations that might otherwise inspire change. (i.e. sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason... but i also want to tread lightly, because i think this whole thing might have to do with depression and his headaches, etc. he's said before that he also uses the weed to treat pain, which is hard to argue with.)

(it also might be important to note that i have smoked occasionally, but only around him, and i've mostly decided that it's not super beneficial in my life.)

thoughts? anyone ever been in a similar situation? i want to be helpful but also kind. and also realistic... is this a legitimate problem? does it have to be? can anyone advise any good barometers or methodologies for deciding whether or not it is a problem?
posted by humiliated_grape to Human Relations (42 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
can anyone advise any good barometers or methodologies for deciding whether or not it is a problem?

If you feel compelled to post on Ask MetaFilter about this, it is an issue.

because i think this whole thing might have to do with depression and his headaches, etc. he's said before that he also uses the weed to treat pain, which is hard to argue with.

Yes it is. You aren't comfortable with it. A medical professional has not prescribed the marijuana for self-treatment. You seem to be allowing him any reason that you can think of to continue his addiction. However, you aren't allowing yourself any reason whatsoever to dislike the fact that your partner has a distasteful addiction and doesn't listen to your objections to said addiction.

i guess i'd just kind of like to get to the bottom of WHY he feels the need to smoke every day.

If you did get to the bottom of this and he didn't change anything about his behavior, would it make you feel any better? Really?

i have no intentions of asking him to completely quit smoking, and i'm aware from my own experience that asking or telling people to change is never helpful.

This is your problem here - you don't think it's possible for him to change. If that is actually the case, then there's nothing for you to do and you either need to accept his behavior (which I don't think is good for you) or reject him entirely. If you think it's possible for him to change, then you need to start getting him to do so. It is possible for people to change. However, in general, people without any motivation to change don't do so.
posted by saeculorum at 10:55 PM on February 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Well in terms of a barometer I'd say you pretty much answerd your own question several times. Red flags. Bothers you. Conflicted feelings. Its a problem. That's frankly the easy part. My advice in the hard part is going to pretty much firmly be in the "honest conversations followed by a decisive action" category. Something along the lines of "is this a deal breaker?" If yes. State that. Be ready emotionally for him to choose weed over you. Here's the thing. It doesn't natter if it's weed. If he's addicted to star wars legos or putting up extreme Christmas lights it's still an addiction and a very serious detriment to healthy interaction. So discount the weed and focus on the larger behavioral issues you have with it. Not confrontational, just honest.

And again, be prepared for the potential of him choosing the weed.

I purposefully stepped over the depression because your not facing his depression. Your facing his behavioral issues and addictive actions regarding his self medication ...

Good luck!
posted by chasles at 10:57 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't know why your boyfriend smokes pot. I was a big pothead in high school and college and I started simply because it was fun. It felt super good and it made me happy. But I kept doing it because it made me complacent. I never got angry or frustrated and I never cared about anything too much to let it get me bent out of shape. (Except weed. I got really angry when I couldn't smoke weed.) I think some people do specifically do it because it takes the stress of caring away. It makes things easy. Maybe your boyfriend feels stressed out. I also had some depression at some point in my potheadedness (I don't remember where), and smoking pot was an activity that felt good and passed the time. As a depressed person, I couldn't pour myself into hobbies, but I could indulge in physical pleasures like pot. Since he's smoking when he wakes up, to me that seems more of an approach to manage stress. I'd add, some people do just enjoy smoking pot, but the everyday part and the waking-and-baking makes it seem like a crutch. Whatever it is, I don't think it's something you can change and if you try, will probably just result in fights and be unpleasant for you. You should decide whether you're OK with him dealing with stress or passing his time this way or not. And if you're not, find a new guy.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:57 PM on February 18, 2014 [12 favorites]

Well, it's a problem for you, clearly, which means it's something that's a problem in your relationship, and therefore something worth figuring out with him. What is it that bothers you about his consumption level? What is it that you want out of a discussion of his use?

I personally do not find regular marijuana use in and of itself to be a problem -- I don't consume it myself, but have several people in my life who consume it on a daily or near-daily basis, and it does not create problems for them, or me. Daily mj use without problems is entirely possible, and does not necessarily constitute an addiction.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:00 PM on February 18, 2014 [14 favorites]

If I was intoxicated, and my partner did not want to always communicate with me when I was intoxicated, I would listen to her wishes.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:29 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

So, here's the thing about self-medicating: If it's working, why is it a problem? The problem with self-medicating iwith drugs and alcohol usually comes down to whether they are having a destructive impact and whether they're addictive. The same problems exist with some prescription drugs.

I am currently not taking drugs for my anxiety problem, but I am doing half an hour of fairly strenuous cardio every day, because that has been helping and has fewer negative side effects. Is that self-medicating? Is it wrong? Well, people aren't apt to say that because the social view of exercise is positive.

I think you need to look at what the negative things you're seeing here might be. Is he unable to do things he needs to do? Does he seem to feel worse for doing this? Does he seem to be at risk for criminal prosecution? Those are certainly reasons not to. But "the improvement could be gotten from a prescription drug instead, possibly, maybe" is... well, overly optimistic about the ease of finding prescription drugs that work for mental health problems, anyway. If he seems to feel okay and you can't point to specific areas where this is harming, I would suggest that yes, this has to do more with your pre-judgment of the issue than his drug use. And I say this as somebody who has never personally touched marijuana.
posted by Sequence at 11:42 PM on February 18, 2014 [48 favorites]

I know that some people smoke weed in the evening to unwind like others drink wine or beer but getting up early to smoke it seems like it's crossing over into something else. That suggests to me that A) He feels like he needs it to function in his regular life, not just to unwind, and B) He's trying to hide how much he's using by doing it before you wake up.

I don't know what you should do next but I wanted to give you an outside perspective that supports your instinct that he may have a problem.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:46 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

i guess i'd just kind of like to get to the bottom of WHY he feels the need to smoke every day. he says it helps him relax, focus on tasks, and appreciate small everyday things....he's said before that he also uses the weed to treat pain, which is hard to argue with.)

He has told you why he smokes but for some reason you don't believe him? That would be where I would focus your attention. I smoke cannabis every day. I use it for chronic pain, stress, focus, creativity and for plain old enjoyment. If I had told my SO that and then they expressed concern if I smoked up one morning, I too would be surprised and a little hurt. When I smoke in the morning its because I hurt and smoking it makes me able to go about my day in much less pain and be more productive. Just because this is an issue for you doesn't mean it is or should be an issue for him. If I didn't smoke cannabis every day I'd have to be taking more than one other medication and the side effect profiles of all the pain killers and mental health meds that would be appropriate are much scarier than any side effects that come from smoking weed.
posted by smartypantz at 11:47 PM on February 18, 2014 [40 favorites]

I'm guessing you've got a diagnosis, though smartypantz. If the SO here hasn't, yet he still needs daily pain relief, that would seem to be an issue that needs addressing first.

The idea that he's smoking for relief is otherwise somewhat worrying, because it seems to rule out the two main reassuring possibilties, namely that this is either (a) normal for the subculture he identifies with, or (b) just recreational and voluntary.
posted by Segundus at 1:31 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you ever seen him run out, with no easy way to get more? Does he say, well, better forget about the bong for a few days, and carry on, or does he devote himself to calling everyone he knows, trying to meet new dealers, etc?
posted by thelonius at 1:37 AM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

is it safe to assume that this is some kind of self-medication for stress or anxiety,

No. Just flat out no. Millions of people smoke pot every day recreationally, for no other reason than that they like it.

although he seems to be in denial that these might actually be caused by depression.

Depression... does not cause headaches. There is research to show that anxiety disorders can cause headaches, though the headaches are most often migraines.

he's been to numerous doctors who have found nothing physically wrong, but he continues to wonder aloud what could possibly be causing these persistent headaches

It would be very rare for a healthcare provider to find a physical cause for migraines or other headaches from a physical exam. So unless there have been CT scans or MRIs involved here, what you're reporting isn't adding up.

But whatever, it really doesn't matter why he smokes pot if you don't like it. You are allowed to decide it's a dealbreaker.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:55 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think you are trying to second guess this and overthink it. Some people just really like being stoned, you know?

and i'm still not completely sure which are my own opinions and which have just been influenced by negative social stereotypes

You should really try to unpack this first! If it is just a problem within your head, caused by wrong social conditioning, then no need to mess things up with the other person, right? So start thinking about that... when he is stoned do you like him less, does he do something irritating, is he less fun? What is the real nature of your hangup?

he became startlingly defensive about his habits

Get into his shoes! It turns out his lover might actually be The Man, and has a mind to fuck up his business. Think about how huge a bummer that is, seriously.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:51 AM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

although he seems to be in denial that these might actually be caused by depression.

Depression... does not cause headaches. There is research to show that anxiety disorders can cause headaches, though the headaches are most often migraines.

Echoing DarlingBri above, I wanted to chime in and add that antidepressants are often prescribed for the management of chronic migraines. The fact that he's on antidepressants doesn't mean he's depressed or being treated for depression.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:03 AM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Addiction self-tests (which all treatment centers give to people) do NOT ask what quantity of the drug that you use. They ask about the impact on your life of the drug use:
- has it caused you to miss work?
- has it caused conflict at home?
- has it created personal financial strain?
- does it make you careless about family and friends?
- do you have specific craving triggers (always use at a certain time or place, for example)?

You can find lots of addiction self tests online. I suggest you take 4 or 5 of them, and answer them as if you are your SO. After taking a few of these tests, you will know if he has a REAL problem.
posted by Flood at 4:12 AM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I couldn't care less if people want to smoke pot, but I cannot help but think that if people need pot to be creative, unwind and have fun, there is something lacking in their motivation or skill sets. It's a crutch, not that there is anything wrong with it. I would be turned off by it in my partner, it's just not my thing. You don't have to like or accept it but you may need to walk away if he isn't interested in changing his habit to a more comfortable situation for you.
posted by waving at 4:54 AM on February 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

Headaches can be really tricky to diagnose - just to put that out there. And the side-effects from migraine meds are non-trivial (migraine meds have changed my life and luckily I experience few side effects, but I know someone who can't take them and still gets multi-day headaches). If your partner experiences chronic headaches (if - this isn't clear from your question) and he treats them by smoking a little every day (assuming it's a little) that seems reasonable. If my choice were the headaches I used to get versus smoking a little every day, it would be no contest.

I would talk to him about this more. And ask about the headaches - what kind, how often, does he notice any triggers?

Migraine hadaches do seem to be wound up with anxiety and depression for a lot of people, but when I looked at the research it wasn't all all clear what the relationship was - brain goofiness causes both? Anxiety causes headaches in some brain way? Anxiety causes headaches through changing how people react to triggers like food or air pressure? Anxiety causes physical changes through tension leading to things like TMJ and thus headaches? It wasn't at all clear that treating the anxiety via pills (for example) would also consistently clear up migraines, even where migraines were related to anxiety.

If your boyfriend is smoking daily because of headaches, it might be worth it (assuming insurance, etc) to get a good work-up to try to identify the cause - but it might not be treatable in an obvious way. Or it might. Or it might but the expense and side effects might be significant.
posted by Frowner at 4:55 AM on February 19, 2014

How does his habit affect you?

Can you two not hold a conversation when he's high? Does it affect sexuals when he's high and the sex is worse? Does he drive a vehicle when he's high and you don't feel safe? These are what you should focus on because it's your only leverage.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:00 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

If his smoking doesn't affect him in everyday life, then the only problem is the cost and the smell.

Substitute alcohol for pot. Do you feel better, worse or indifferent to it? Is the issue that it's pot, or is the issue that he's high all the time?

If he used enough pot to help with pain, that's one thing. If he's getting high to sit around and stare at the walls, or check out of life in general, that's a whole OTHER thing, and one that would be concerning.

Has he been to a doctor for a thorough check up? Does his doctor know he is using pot in addition to other drugs?

Pot is just another drug. It can be abused just like any other drug.

So do you feel that the amount your SO is using is appropriate, or do you believe that he's abusing it?

This is something that his medical team should help him evaluate.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:20 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming this is the same guy as in this question. I'm curious whether there was any sort of resolution or progress made on the issues that were troubling you a year ago. Because the starting point for you needs to be not "what is causing the problem behavior?" but rather "what problem is the behavior causing?"

If the weed is not causing any problems for you or your relationship, then it doesn't really matter why he's doing it.

If the weed is causing problems for you or your relationship, then it STILL doesn't really matter why he's doing it.

My husband was a daily pot smoker throughout his 20s, and then he switched to alcohol a couple years before we met--he drank every day, and increasingly heavily, in the first years of our relationship, until it got to the point where it was definitely a Problem for me. The main problems being that when he was drinking he would spend most of his time tuned out in front of a screen and was completely demotivated to socialize with the family, friends, do his fair share of household responsibilities, etc.

Did he use these substances as a way to deal with anxiety and manage his emotions? Absolutely--and that is something that he's now working on in therapy. But coming up with other ways to deal with anxiety and manage his emotions wasn't going to happen until the cost for dealing with them through substance use became greater than the benefit.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 5:54 AM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's possible that the marijuana is causing the headaches, or making them worse. Do his doctors know about his daily smoking habit?

He actually told you why he does it every day, but you didn't really like his answer. It sounds like this guy is not a good match for you. What he is doing is not necessarily an indication that something is wrong with him - he might just be a pothead. If you don't want to date a pothead... I would advise you not to date him.

It doesn't even matter why he smokes so much. He fact that it bothers you and that he can't have a conversation with you about it without being defensive - those are the real problems here.

You might again try to approach him to discuss it openly and honestly and in a loving way. But first I would think carefully about what exactly bothers me and why it bugs me and why it is a dealbreaker for me. I would try to remove judgment from the equation, too. That should help you identify how to talk to him about this problem that you have together.
posted by sockermom at 6:00 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

i guess i'd just kind of like to get to the bottom of WHY he feels the need to smoke every day. he says it helps him relax, focus on tasks, and appreciate small everyday things.

I might try to attempt a longer answer later, but the focus thing makes me wonder if he (or people in his family) has ADHD-like symptoms. When people ask me 'why?' my short answer is always that it makes me normal. Medicating with pot allows me to function better in human society by alleviating social anxiety and a scattered brain.
posted by 0 at 6:03 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh, another quick hit regarding defensiveness: he's been told all his life that smoking pot is shameful. Of course he is defensive.
posted by 0 at 6:05 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

All this dancing around the issue.. He is a pothead, and no amount of rationalization will change that.

So, the decision for you is if you want to be in a relationship with a pothead.
posted by eas98 at 6:31 AM on February 19, 2014 [8 favorites]

Substitute booze for pot in this question, and people would be telling you to get yourself to Al-Anon. Pot's a bit of a different thing but it does seem like the habit is affecting you on a deep level and you're doing the kind of back-and-forth that people do with an addict in the family. It's not confined to addiction; people do the same kind of stuff with each other's weight, health, money issues etc. But whatever category you consider this habit in, it seems like you are getting way up in his head when you should be paying attention to getting your own wants and needs met.

I grew up in an extended family where half the people were addicted to something and the other half were trying to figure out and manage the addicts. Honestly, who needs that? It doesn't help the addict any and it may drive them further into addictive behavior. Your boyfriend may not be acutally addicted but I don't think he has to be, for you to be involved in a somewhat codependent dynamic.
posted by BibiRose at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Answering your very first question: it depends. My husband smokes pot every day, but he doesn't ever smoke before work or before riding his motorcycle. EVER. My husband has medical issues and the pot helps a lot. I have been married to him for 14 years and I know that to be true. I also know that he is an incredibly responsible user (see above) and he will not use if he needs to be sober for some reason. If we were having issues with communication because of the pot or I needed him to be sober for something and he couldn't be, that would definitely be a problem, but it isn't in our marriage. If it is in your relationship, then you need to reassess.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2014 [8 favorites]

If you are uncomfortable with it, that's all that really matters. You have the right to make a reasonable request for him to change his behavior, and he has the right to say no.

After that, the decision's yours.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:26 AM on February 19, 2014

Just about the smoking in the morning issue: I think it's really wrong to look at this specifically as a warning sign. Smoking in the morning can be really enjoyable for a lot of people, and if it's not having negative effects on his ability to do what he needs to do that day, then I really don't think you should consider it a warning sign in and of itself. Some people like to have sex in the morning; others like to smoke a little weed. It is normal for many people, and it is not necessarily a sign of addiction or a problem or anything else, as long as he isn't doing things that would be unsafe to do while under the influence.

BUT obviously his use bothers you -- and that is totally valid -- so maybe address that with him and talk about what boundaries make sense for you. I would encourage you to specifically consider what it is that bothers you: is it the smell? his trouble with memory? not listening well when he's high? etc. But if you soul search a bit and discover that you are just uncomfortable because you have a preconceived notion that one cannot smoke every day and sometimes in the morning and still be a good, functional, well-adjusted human, well then I would tell you that that is simply not true. I'm not saying everyone can function well when they are smoking daily (it affects people differently), but some people absolutely can. If examples would be helpful to you, I'd be happy to give you some via memail.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:29 AM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

The answer to a lot of your question is simply, "It depends." Certainly there are people who smoke regularly, either for recreational or medicinal value, without it negatively impacting their life, and there are others for whom it becomes a major problem.

Although this is intended specifically for alcohol abuse, one short questionnaire that clinicians use to asses dependency is the CAGE questionnaire:

1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to
get rid of a hangover (eye-opener)?

There is definitely a lot of grey area in your situation. One concern I would have is whether he's up front with his doctors about his substance use, especially as this pertains to his headaches, the medications he's taking, and what sound like chronic pain issues.

I wonder if part of your discomfort/confusion comes from mixed messages he's sending. On the one hand, it sounds like he's saying that he's smoking daily because he enjoys it (recreationally); at the same time, it seems like he needs it to function (medicinally). It's not that those two things are necessarily mutually exclusive, but the combination can be unsettling.

If he's open to it, I would recommend seeing a couples counselor. This is obviously a charged topic for both of you, so discussing this in the presence of a mental health clinician could be useful. If it turns out he's unwilling to pursue this, then you may want to seek someone out on your own to explore your feelings.

Ultimately, the fact that this clearly is troubling you should be enough to warrant further discussion and exploration. If he's absolutely unwilling to hear you out on this and seek outside counsel, then it will be up to you to decide whether or not this is a deal breaker.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am close to someone who smokes pot many times daily, starting in the morning, but is not addicted to pot by any reasonable measure. They would absolutely agree that it's in large part self-medication for anxiety, among other things, but this is a person who has extensive experience with prescription pharmaceuticals and has found that the side effects of those medications are way more unpleasant and debilitating than the side effects of marijuana. They're blessed with the ability to be basically totally functional while high, and so I can't help but conclude that they're managing their mental state in a way that is appropriate, healthy and sustainable.

I point this out not to suggest that everything is fine in your relationship, but just that frequency of use, time of day of use, and reason for use are not in and of themselves sufficient to determine whether someone has a problem. What is sufficient are things like: are you uncomfortable with things like smoking in the morning no matter what? Does pot change his personality in a way that bothers you? Does it seem to be affecting his life negatively? You have the right to be bothered by his pot use, you have the right to be bothered by pot use period, and you have the right for it to not be something you want in a partner, but I think it will be to your and your SO's benefit to know where your feelings on the topic are coming from.
posted by invitapriore at 8:19 AM on February 19, 2014 [7 favorites]

Consider whether your view of cannabis, likely nurtured through years of indoctrination (if you're an American who grew up during the DARE years, anyway), is causing you to exaggerate his problems for him or create divisions between the two of you that might not otherwise exist. That's not an uncommon occurrence. Is he happy, getting relief from pain and enjoying being alive? If so, then the issue of "he smokes a bad thing" is exclusively yours. The fact that he can't talk about it to you says nothing about the drug and more about the level of combativeness that exists between you. That is definitely worth puzzling out before blaming your partner's habits.
posted by fartbutt at 8:32 AM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have an SO with a robust substance-use/abuse past, and who continues to use a variety of substances for a variety of reasons. I struggled with this question, too, and what seems to be working currently is that we agree on the following:

- That none of his substance use (except alcohol) is habit-forming. This means cannabis is okay, but opiates are not. Huge difference.

- That there is no (or minimal) legal risk.

- That whatever he does won't get in the way of fulfilling responsibilities.

- That we are on the "same level" whenever we interact. That means we can get a little tipsy with wine together, but if he wants to have a psychedelic experience I will be busy with other things that day. I think it's reasonable to want to be on the same level with your partner, especially if attention and presence are what makes you feel respected and loved in a relationship.

That said, it's possible that you could be on the same level even if your SO has been smoking, and some would argue that legally-prescribed meds will put a person into un-sober territory...but ymmv. Basically, it could help to a) assume his proclivities are here to stay, in one form or another, and b) identify specific concerns and see if you can reach some terms that are agreeable to both of you.
posted by magdalemon at 9:30 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

As the other commenters have said, it's an issue if it's an issue for you. My SO smokes (well, vapes) most days...with me. It's our glass-of-wine-after-work (we don't drink because neither of us likes it much) and a part of our social life and our relationship. Sometimes we don't want to do it every day, and that's fine - we take breaks when it feels good to do so.

For me personally, my pot habit is way more healthy than my drinking (before I quit) was, especially since we're not actually smoking - it's much less destructive to my health and my relationships than the way I used to drink was. Few people would consider having a few drinks after work each day to be "an alcohol problem" even in cases where those few drinks are actually causing the user a problem, so there's some societal stuff around the pot/alcohol divide going on. I get the feeling that people judge me more for being a fairly harmless stoner than they did when I was drinking an unhealthy amount because, hey, booze is a fun party but marijuana is srs drugs.

I guess my point is that it's possible to smoke every day and it not be a problem - this is how I would categorise my own use and that of my SO. I smoke most days and I sing barbershop once a week and I kick ass at work - it's a big part of my life, but it's not preventing me from living the way I want to.

But it's equally possible to smoke every day and it be a problem for you and/or your loved ones, just as it's possible to smoke once a week/month/year and have it be a problem because of the way it impacts on your life and relationships.

If it's a problem for you, it's a problem.
posted by terretu at 10:32 AM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

My friend dated a guy that sounds a lot like your SO. He had the same history of depression too. He deflected a lot of things in life by smoking. He had a job he hated, so instead of applying for new jobs, he could just smoke and not care that he hated his job, etc.

She had gone into the relationship knowing he smoked, she was fine with this in the abstract. "Sure pot can be like having a glass of wine at the end of the day!" When he started waking-and-baking and hiding this from her, she decided that she was not ok with pot in the way he was using it.

Its ok for this to be a problem for you. Its ok to be a square. You don't need to lend him some kind of medicalizing legitimacy to this.
posted by fontophilic at 11:29 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some people smoke daily due to real issues, and for them smoking can make their issues worse still. Anxiety is often one of these issues.

I have also known people who smoke daily and are better for it.

Why don't you make a list of what a person who smokes daily would have to be like for you to not mind, and then try and see why this doesn't mesh with your partner.

Conversely, you might have traditional/conservative views on drugs, and simply do not wish your partner to use any drugs. If this were the case it is very unfair for you to not be upfront about that prior to choosing your partner.
posted by jjmoney at 12:10 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it's a problem for you, that's fine, but trying to find a reason beyond what he says is the reason for his habits seems, well, not good. It comes off like you actually want him to change without having to tell him you want him to change; therefore, you're hoping that there is a really good damn reason why he won't change so that you can just accept it. I don't think it works that way and I don't think internet strangers can give you that reason, sorry.

Personally: I dated someone who smoked every day. It was a problem because he was very boring, unmotivated to any sort of action, wanting to play video games and lay around only when he was high, and since he was high relatively often I decided it wasn't for me and I dumped him. The problem wasn't the habit, the problem was the guy.
posted by sm1tten at 5:29 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a bit of a tangential answer, but if your SO is smoking weed daily to medicate for headaches, and he hasn't seen an actual neurologist who is a headache specialist yet (wasn't sure if the several doctors he had seen had all been primary care or what), I think approaching this from a place of concern about his headaches and how much they are interfering with his life might be useful too. There is an entity called persistent daily headache that can be very challenging to treat, and certainly if he has a headache that hasn't been helped by medical treatment thus far after trying multiple therapies, he deserves to see a sub-specialist for this. Because of the lack of great treatments for this problem, it may be that marijuana is his best option, but it could be useful to find that out. I would try not to mention the marijuana thing at all when you bring this idea up, if you do, so that you don't run into the defensiveness issue.

The thing is, if by saying he just smokes to relax he meant to imply that he's doing it for fun and recreation, that just doesn't square with waking up super early in the morning just to smoke pot, from my perspective. The first thing that came to mind (and I am a doctor so I am biased) was the CAGE questionnaire, which is a short screening tool for alcohol abuse. It has not been validated for marijuana abuse as far as I know, but drinking first thing in the morning (an "eye opener") and getting annoyed when someone questions you about your drinking are two of the 4 items. Anyway, just wanted to offer that as some validation for your feelings.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:50 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I absolutely believe that pot should be legal.

I also absolutely do not want to be in a relationship with someone who smokes pot every day.

It's not logically inconsistent to believe that weed is generally benign and yet still not want your partner baked every day (or even every evening). I think watching reality TV is generally benign and yet I would still not want to deal with my partner watching it every evening.

As others have pointed out, you seem to be trying to suppress your concerns about the relationship because of your political/ideological views. Don't do that. You can disapprove of the drug war and still dislike the way your partner acts when he's high, or be concerned that he's not addressing some underlying psychological issues, and your concern about either or both of those things should be important to him if he's a decent partner.
posted by jaguar at 7:49 PM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

The thing about using intoxicants for self-medication is that they don't last very long. When I was getting high every day my whole world was split in two: getting high, and wishing I was higher. The former lasted a few minutes each day. The latter took up the rest of my existence.

I didn't have any need for anything other than the drug in my life. Other people were just window dressing.

If your partner is self-medicating every day then yes, there is something deeply amiss in his emotional universe, in my opinion. But you cannot help him by making his suffering your own.
posted by macinchik at 9:50 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

nthing the notion that if it's a problem for you, it's a problem. But...

I also want to challenge the notion that cannabis in the morning is inherently a problem. Cannabis is not alcohol. People who do not partake or engage in very light use often have the idea that pot is only a PARTYTIME!!!! drug or limited to eating [stereotypical snack food here]. There is a whole other aspect of cannabis use related to enhancing creativity, empathy, productivity etc. And this is only becoming more fine-grained as specific plant strains with different qualities become available to more people. Many people use cannabis to get work done because they find it helps them do a better job and enjoy that work more. Some times that work is in the morning. It's not clear whether he was consuming in the morning purely to hide it from you, or that he had other reasons.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:49 AM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was a hardcore pot smoker in college. Some of it was definitely self-medicating (ADHD, Anxiety, Depression) but some of it was recreational and that's where it gets a bit murky. Responsible use means being able know the difference between getting high for fun and using it to address legitimate medical issues - back in college I didn't understand that.

I use cannabis medicinally now. Aside from using it to treat muscular/skeletal pain (I'm old!), I use it to keep my anxiety & depression symptoms at bay. I've tried almost every different anxiety, ADHD and antidepressant on the market and aside from the fact that they tend to "poop out" they can also have some pretty unpleasant side effects. It got to the point that I was considering ECT because nothing else was working.

Getting a recommendation and talking to budtenders at dispensaries has made a huge difference. I've been able to wean off of an anxiety medication that has very serious side-effects: highly addictive, very difficult to discontinue due to some pretty horrendous side-effects (seizures, shakes, flu-like symptoms, "brain zaps", etc.) and I no longer feel constantly drained by having to fight off the relentless suicidal thoughts and anxiety. Cannabis/marijuana is an amazingly effective medicine when used responsibly.

Using medical cannabis is very different than using it recreationally. I have to be alert during the day, so I prefer to use high CBD/ very low THC strains (THC is the stuff that makes you high, CBD and other chemicals in cannabis help with pain and anxiety). I stay away from the super strong stuff except before bed. I do not "wake and bake".

If your boyfriend really wants to use it to help with his pain & anxiety issues he's going to have to be more responsible about how and when he uses it. That includes respecting your feelings and not getting so high that he's not able to be a present and aware partner to you. Here is an outline on responsible cannabis use for you to read and pass on to your boyfriend. Best of luck finding a solution that works for both of you.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The outline sounds interesting, echolalia. But I think the link may be messed up. Please try posting it again?
posted by 0 at 11:49 AM on February 21, 2014

Whoopsie ... here you go.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:38 PM on February 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

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