Please help me decide whether to get drunk or high every night.
August 22, 2007 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Please help me decide whether to get drunk or high every night.

I got married in April of 2006, and the wedding planning stage was very stressful for a number of reasons. So, during that period of time, beginning around November of 2005, I started drinking alcohol every night to the point of getting drunk. Alcohol makes me aggressive and generally an asshole, so my wife was less than happy with this habit. So, around July of 2006, I started smoking pot every night instead of drinking (I had earlier smoked pot every night for about a year in 2003). The pot made me more happy and creative and helped me open up emotionally. The problem with the pot was that I was smoking it every night while watching t.v. and eating junk food in excess. Also, I am inherently introverted, but the pot made me refuse any activities outside the home in the evenings. So, although it was difficult, I was able to stop smoking about two months ago. The problem is that I have now gone back to getting drunk every night. I believe that I abuse alcohol/pot because I don’t want to do anything productive at night other than just relax, which I have trouble doing without some substance.

I have been diagnosed with mild social anxiety, dysthimia, and adult ADD. I have been taking Strattera and seeing a therapist for about a month now. I believe that I have remained fairly productive during the period in question, as I have gotten married, started working in my career of choice, and exercised regularly. However, I would like to learn to relax in the evenings with something other than eating, watching t.v., and smoking/drinking. The problem is that nothing else seems appealing and I have not been successful in breaking this habit. Even when I do something else in the evenings, no matter how late I get home, I need to smoke/drink before going to bed – and not because I have trouble sleeping. I feel like my time of smoking/drinking is my time to relax, recharge, and reward myself for the day. Although a copout, I am resigned to the belief that I will continue to smoke or drink in the evenings until something comes up in my life that requires my attention, like having kids, etc. So, my main question is whether I should go back to smoking pot since it has a better effect on me and I enjoy it more than drinking? The counterpoint to the likely obvious answer in the affirmative is that I believe that it will be easier for me to quit drinking than it will be to quit smoking pot when that day hopefully comes. Also, I acknowledge the view that all of my reasoning is bullshit, and that I should just stop smoking/drinking. It’s just the reality is that I haven’t been able to make myself stop or find something else to fill my evenings.

Thank you in advance for all answers to my question and for any other insights or advice.
posted by metawabbit to Human Relations (57 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If alcohol makes you an asshole, and pot doesn't, then stick with the reefer. If you decide to step outside this either/or way of doing things:

Although a copout, I am resigned to the belief that I will continue to smoke or drink in the evenings until something comes up in my life that requires my attention, like having kids, etc.

I would suggest working on some skill or knowledge-acquisition that you would be able to share with your kids, in lieu of either substance. I know you said that "I feel like my time of smoking/drinking is my time to relax, recharge, and reward myself for the day", but if you're thinking about having children, it will not be. They will be emotionally and physically demanding. You might think of this time as a way to build up to that, cutting back to sobriety every third night, then every other night, slowly bringing yourself towards a position where you can care for your future children while sober.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2007

You should checkout Adderal. All of my recreational drug using buddies highly recommend it.
posted by dead_ at 1:24 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't have any sources to quote, but there have been many studies that show that alcohol is way more addictive than the gonge. Personally, I find it easy to not smoke if I know I have something important to do or if I just don't feel like it. I have stopped for months at a time before just because I didn't feel like it.

This, of course, is different for different people. I also enjoy the sleep I get after smoking versus the hangover I get after drinking in excess.

*all smoking refers to 'tobacco'
posted by ThFullEffect at 1:26 PM on August 22, 2007

Oh, hey, also: if you're looking for a chemical that's relaxing without being debilitating, have you tried kava?
posted by Greg Nog at 1:30 PM on August 22, 2007

OK, you know the answer already. First, stop smoking pot. Contrary to all the trite hippy stuff you see in High Times, weed is bad for you. It is linked to lung disease and mental disorders like schizophrenia and dementia. I kid you not.

Well, you know where I am going with this - you get the picture. The point is, smoking pot and drinking have become bad habits. Eating junkfood and watching TV is an ok way to relax sometimes, but every day?

I don't want to sound patronizing, but I really do know what you mean. The trick is to find something to do after work as a substitute reward. You can't just quit cold-turkey. Replace this habit with a better one. Join a gym, take a class, pick up a book, go for a walk, take the wife out, etc. I know it sounds lame, but IMO this will improve the quality of life and it beats TV. Once you break the rut, figure out how you got there in the first place. Reflect on it and if you can pinpoint the situation/circumstances which made drinking/smoking daily seem appealing, avoid it at all costs.

You said it yourself, you are copping-out. Grow up and face the facts!
posted by mateuslee at 1:31 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

For most people, smoking pot is probably better than drinking, but for many people those are benign activities which can be and are dropped easily. For you they're not. You don't sound like you can quit (nor do you sound very willing to quit) without scads of help. Get help. Smoke dope in the meantime, it's probably less harmful and probably less annoying to your wife.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:32 PM on August 22, 2007

I would say quit the pot. I used to smoke pot only on the weekends after my kids went to bed, but soon decided that I could not be 100% committed to my family and keep illegal substances in the same house at the same time (and I'm not trying to pass judgment on anyone who smokes and has kids, just detailing my own personal perspective).

Not sure what you could replace the booze/pot with. I'm a big fan of the reward-myself-system as well, but I can't think of any alternative that is legal or not somehow bad for you in the long term, like RX opiates. The only advantage of mild RX opiates like Vicodin/Hydrocodone is that you get a nice buzz without getting completely fucked-up, but damn are they addictive, so be forewarned if you take this not-so-highly recommended path.

Good luck!
posted by Brocktoon at 1:45 PM on August 22, 2007

Stick with the smoke. IMHO & from personal experience, booze makes a person more likely to be assholish, stupid, and overly egotistic. Cannabis makes a person more relaxed, and makes evening leisure activities (cooking dinner, watching TV, reading books & comics, listening to music, talking with the wife, etc) more enjoyable and in-depth. Heck, it even makes cleaning the house or doing the laundry more fun.

And never mind that "weed will make you TEH CRAZIEZ" nonsense. Booze will make you teh liver fail in the long run.
posted by ekstasis23 at 1:48 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hmm. Have you asked your wife what she thinks?
posted by dragonsi55 at 1:52 PM on August 22, 2007 [5 favorites]

Also, I acknowledge the view that all of my reasoning is bullshit, and that I should just stop smoking/drinking. It’s just the reality is that I haven’t been able to make myself stop or find something else to fill my evenings.

How to deal with the question of how to fill your evenings might be a biggie, here. Excluding the question of motivation for a minute, do you have any hobbies? Are there any hobbies you'd be interested, in abstract, in taking up, if you could get yourself to do so?

I have a hard time with motivation—ups and downs on managing to do things, even things I like to do like creative projects, in my other down time; some afternoons it's just read the net or a book or watch a movie with the wife or other pretty passive things. Some nights, that's just fine, honestly; and then, some times, I want to do something but don't feel like it, and there's really pretty much nothing to do for it but grit your teeth and bootstrap yourself into doing something. Much of the time, you'll probably find that once you get started in on whatever it is, you get caught up in it and don't have to try so hard.

You talk about getting out of the house and pot making you disinclined—are you naturally inclined to get out of the house, or do are you just rejecting homebody instincts on principle?

I have been diagnosed with mild social anxiety, dysthimia, and adult ADD. I have been taking Strattera and seeing a therapist for about a month now.

What does your therapist think about this? Have you talked it out with them, in these terms?

I don't know what the uptake routine is like for Strattera, but meds in general can take a while to steady out—at a month on or so, you may not really have a clear sense of where that's going to take you, so if part of the goal is to deal with the anxiety on that front, it might make sense to wait it out a bit.
posted by cortex at 1:53 PM on August 22, 2007

how about you start attending a substance abuse recovery program in the evenings instead? Failing that, I'd stick to the smoke. Its less destructive than the drink in the short and long term. Also please don't have kids while your drug use is uncontrolled.
posted by subtle_squid at 1:54 PM on August 22, 2007

The problem is that nothing else seems appealing

Nothing is going to give you the feeling that alcohol/pot does. In order to break the habit, you will have to accept that life without it isn't as relaxing/interesting/whatever.
posted by desjardins at 1:54 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]



I know a guy in his sixties who is clean and sober and who grieves each and every day for the nearly four decades, the marriage, and the relationship with his (now adult) children that he (apparently permanently) flushed down the toilet when he was a drunk.

Do you honestly think that deciding to have kids is going to make you suddenly snap out of the habits you are forming now?

Do you think the fact that you have mild social anxiety, dysthimia, and adult ADD give you some kind of permission to be a drunk or an asshole to your wife? Substance abuse never makes mental illness better. Are you in a hole in your life right now? Rule one of being in a hole is don't take a dump in the hole. Stop using that shit and clean up your life.

I'm not trying to be an ass. I honestly want you to get better, but it seems to be that you are doing a lot of rationalizing here and that some of the (probably well meaning but crap) advice will only serve to enable you.

Best of luck.
posted by 4ster at 1:55 PM on August 22, 2007 [10 favorites]

Seconding the idea of talking to the person prescribing you Strattera. You are not giving Strattera a fair trial if you are adding in pot or booze every night. If you get your Strattera dose right then your feelings about your evening activities may change. In the meantime, I would quit both regular smoke and drink until you are reasonably confident that the Strattera is doing what it is supposed to be doing.
posted by crazycanuck at 1:57 PM on August 22, 2007

Dude, get a hobby.

I realize that is ridiculously flippant but I can't honestly believe you've exhausted all your other relaxation options and are left with deciding between being a drunk or pothead. I know it's hard to break the habit, but you yourself admit you're giving up without really trying. There are countless mindless, absorbing, completely unproductive activities you could be doing instead. I personally would have gotten to: "Have invigorating sex with my new wife every night and pass out" as a solution to the doldrums before "Beer gut or munchies gut?" Speaking of which, what does your wife do with her evenings while you're getting drunk and/or high? Is it something relaxing that you could do together?

I'm going to go ahead and read your question as: "What can I do with my evenings to relax, recharge, and reward myself for the day?" and answer that quandary. Maybe I'll get deleted for being off topic, but I hope it will give you some other options.

Video games - There is an absolutely massive industry devoted to leisure just waiting to hook you on some sort of passive entertainment. If you've already got a computer, the PC gaming options alone are nearly endless. Civilization is my personal addiction of choice.

Crochet or Knitting - Yeah, so you've got a Y chromosome, doesn't mean the repetitive motions of these activities won't relax you too. The upside is that it requires just enough focus to keep you engaged, but can be done while watching a movie or chatting with your wife, and bonus: keeps your hands busy and out of the cookie jar.

Spend time with your wife You married her, you must enjoy her company at least a little. There's a great AskMe thread on ""What are some fun things we could do at home with our clothes on that aren't too expensive or unhealthy, in a couple of hours?"

Reading Comic books count, and I promise they won't make you think too hard.

Cooking, especially baking Teach yourself or improve your skillz without really trying. Listen to the radio, sing along, and be unproductive while producing rewarding cookies or a fabulous meal.

Tinker putz around in the garden, get a soldering iron, buy some Legos, tune up an old car, buy some paints etc etc etc. Give yourself an new moneypit of a sandbox to play in to unwind a little, no masterpieces required.

I really could keep going but I think you already know you've got a bigger question in front of you than what will be your substance of choice. I wish you all of the best.
posted by nelleish at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2007 [11 favorites]

Get a hobby.

You realize how transparently stupid your justifications are for choosing to take up either getting high or drunk every night and you know that the majority of intelligent people here will tell you to do neither, yet you’re still asking.

I'm sure you know that the daily abuse of either substance is slow, ugly suicide. Drinking is a sure way to kill your liver and cardiovascular system (hearts and parts of livers are hard to come by, and no transplant surgeon will waste any organ on someone who will continue to drink) and brain as well (no brain transplants yet anyways). Marijuana is more damaging to your lungs than cigarettes, has more tar and carcinogens and carries the same familiar succession of bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer. And if you read the headlines on the right of that page you'll see that it also damages sperm and affects developing fetuses.

Speaking of which, you make no mention of your wife's stance on your proposed daily binge. I'd have a hard time believing that any marriage, no matter how harmonious now, will remain unaffected by long term, active drug or alcohol abuse. It tends to be one of the most reliable methods of precipitating divorce. And children: as far as I can understand, having them also brings on a lot of stress. If you are considering become physically and psychologically addicted to a drug right now in order to deal with the stress of your current daily life, even before the burden of parenthood, having kids might not be the best plan. Plus, people still get arrested for possessing pot, and people loose custody of their children to the state because of drug and alcohol abuse.

Like many other people, you seem to have an addictive personality. You say you "need" either drug in order to relax, and I'm sure you know that's exactly the same predicament of every other user out there. It sucks, but because of any number of genes, people like you, people in my family and probably me (although I don't care to find out) have the decks stacked against us when it comes to becoming addicted. So the only rational way of dealing with it is simply to avoid addictive substances as much as possible. Although I refuse to give up coffee.

So don't start. At night, make a habit of working out with your wife, going for long walks, volunteering, gardening, blah blah blah. I'm sure you've read all the usual advice people give about making a commitment and sticking to it by involving your spouse and making it a habit. Or do what I do and eschew good TV shows for the entire season until they're released on DVD and then sit down on the couch with your spouse and watch a ridiculous amount of episodes every night for a week or so. And then find another really good show, and start again. All you need is Netflix and British television. Or perhaps have a lot of sex (with your wife, obviously). Just don't become a sex addict, I guess.

Oh, and join AA or NA, or at least attend a few meetings. You'll probably recognize yourself in a lot of the people there, and perhaps you'll see the wisdom of abstaining.
posted by buka at 2:01 PM on August 22, 2007

I will continue to smoke or drink in the evenings until something comes up in my life that requires my attention, like having kids

Holy Shit, Man! Don't even think of having kids till you get this problem fully extinguished. Kids aren't going to make it any easier. Just get a second job if you need something to do to stay away from drink/drug.
posted by DarkForest at 2:07 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Eh, nelliesh said it better and before me.
posted by buka at 2:09 PM on August 22, 2007

Putting aside all the moral, social, psychological and physical aspects of this, as a practical answer to your question, I highly (pun intended) recommend that you do both. Drink two beers to get you a little up then take a bong hit or two and you will have the perfect functioning buzz. The drink will get you up off the couch and smoke will take the aggressive edge off.

Or, take a vicoden when you get home.

Otherwise, like the previous posters have said, you need to find another solution that is not addictive or destructive and learn to get high on life.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2007

Hmm. Have you asked your wife what she thinks?
posted by voltairemodern at 2:25 PM on August 22, 2007

Neither. You dont even know what the Strattera interaction is going to be like. Heck, you might not be on the right drug/dosage if you seriously need to supplement this.

If you're dealing with insomnia you can take a couple of valerian root tablets. Attempt a couple relaxing exercise. If youre still very tense you should talk to your therapist. He/she may supplement your strat with an anti-anxiety medication.

The real problem of doing what youre doing is that you'll never get the strat or whatever drug to work if you're messing with your chemistry all the time. Its disingenuous and unfair to say "Oh the drugs are working fine," if you are drinking to drunkenness every night or getting stoned out of your gourd. Youre pretty much guaranteeing that the therapy and meds wont work with this approach.

If you feel you are an addictive personality (it sounds like you are) you should seriously consider sitting ina few AA or NA meetings. Do it twice a week and you practically have a new hobby.

You really need to give therapy and meds a chance to work.

Also, if you go the video game route, dont get involved with any MMOs like Warcraft. Its not good for your personality type.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:31 PM on August 22, 2007

This is from 2006, while the other studies are from 2002 or similarly old. But that's not the point here.

Hobbies. Indeed. nelleishe has some great ideas.
posted by agregoli at 2:33 PM on August 22, 2007

Two points:

1. There is nothing wrong with stress. Every ordinary, well-adjusted person on the planet gets tired or stressed out on a regular basis. It's normal, and it's nothing that you need to fix with drugs or alcohol. Often (not always) if you wait a few minutes without trying to do anything about the feelings of weariness or stress, they will recede on their own. Of course, if you are grinding your teeth down to nubs in the night or can't get out of bed in the morning or spend all day crying, then see your doctor by all means, but otherwise I would advise that you concentrate on doing useful things rather than trying to "reward yourself" or to escape from stress in your life.

2. For many people (me included), few things seem worthwhile until you are actually doing them, particularly if an easy but less-satisfying choice is close at hand. Try some different evening activities that get you out of the house, even if they don't sound fun to you at first. If you can't think of anything else to do, I assign you to do the following three random activities for the next month: bowling with a team (even if you are bad at it), signing up as a Big Brother (even if you hate kids), and taking a course at the local community center (even if you hate learning things). If you are totally stuck, ask your wife for things she would be willing to do with you.

No matter what you choose to do, I guarantee that you will end up liking all of the activities more than you thought you would, and you will find that at least one of them will be better than staying at home ever was.

-amtho's fiance posting as amtho
posted by amtho at 2:46 PM on August 22, 2007

I agree with all the other advice for reducing your drinking/smoking and doing something else with your time. Exercise, hobbies, etc ...
posted by Camel of Space at 2:49 PM on August 22, 2007

Could you try meditation or yoga? Both are supposed to be good for calming an anxious mind and getting you out of your own head in healthier ways than intoxicants or TV/munching.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:05 PM on August 22, 2007

-Alcohol makes me aggressive and generally an asshole-
-pot made me more happy and creative and helped me open up emotionally-

I'm not advocating it, but given that the real world ends up being more complex than typed nuggets of wise advice might otherwise require, how about going the compromise route (while you are getting your act together of course) and have an evening diet of half pot/ half booze. Hopefully the pot will mellow out drinking's rough edges.
posted by peacay at 3:06 PM on August 22, 2007

I knew that this was a stupid question because the real answer is that I should not be smoking or drinking. I just figured that since I haven’t been able to stop one or the other, I may as well go back to the pot. Most comments seem to confirm this conclusion.

To answer some people’s questions, my wife is content watching a movie at night, doing stuff on her computer, doing work around the house, etc. I also enjoy these same activities but, unfortunately, I’m not content doing them without alcohol or pot, they just seem slightly boring. My problem with hobbies is that I’m generally not attracted to activities that aren’t what I consider to be purposeful, e.g. work, exercise, reading. My standard schedule is work until 5, got to gym until 7, play tennis/swim until 9, and read before bed. The problem is what to do between 9 and 12 p.m. Ideally, I would just like to do something quietly at home during this time, but I can’t seem to do this without drinking or smoking. And I can’t – or don’t want to – think of anything else to do during this time. Getting a second job sounds appealing, but is probably impractical from a logistical standpoint. I’m also hopeful that this problem may just go away once the Strattera is at full effectiveness; I’ve been taking it for about three weeks.

On preview of the last few comments, everyone is right. I need to stop both, and find something else, anything else, to do with my time. It just seems like I’ve known this for some time but have not been able to do it. I guess maybe I do need some sort of help, like MA. I don’t know, I guess on some level I hoped that everyone would justify my going back to pot, which is the easy thing, rather than stopping both, which feels so impossible right now. Addiction sucks.
posted by metawabbit at 3:07 PM on August 22, 2007

The ability to relax without a crutch gets easier with time spent doing it. Meditation can accelerate the process. Computer gaming is a vice that might be less debilitating for you (unless you get sucked into an MMO). And yeah, addiction sucks. A lot of what you may be thinking is sober you, is really you suffering from withdrawal. Give it time.
posted by Manjusri at 3:32 PM on August 22, 2007

n-thing, "Get a hobby".

And turn off the tv. Cancel cable too.
posted by kamelhoecker at 3:39 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try Exercising. It doesn't require any brain-power or concentration, so no problems with the ADD. And a good workout will leave you feeling great. Not only due to "runners high" a euphoria similar to being stoned, there's no guilt or anything because you did something "Good" And as you get in shape, you'll feel better all the time.

From my perspective sitting around watching TV or playing WoW or whatever isn't any worse if you're stoned or high. It's just a waste of time either way.
posted by delmoi at 3:46 PM on August 22, 2007

Oh Hmm. So I just read your follow up where you say you spend a lot of the time at the gym.
posted by delmoi at 3:51 PM on August 22, 2007

OK. I gotta ask this. Are you fucking serious?! Dude. GROW UP and take a little responsibility for your life. You are a reasonably healthy and intelligent adult (at least according to your post). That's going to be changing if you don't get your shit together. The "cry me a river" mentality of being bored is ridiculous. Really. You're whining about being bored. Get a hobby. Fix stuff up around your house. Romance your new wife. Clean out your closet. Go volunteer in a soup kitchen and see what it's really like to have a shitty life.

Does your therapist know what you're up to every night? This person condones this and is still willing to treat and prescribe for you? If that's the case, I think you might want to find somebody else.

You want to have kids? Holy shit. Do you have *any* clue what it takes to be a parent? Especially with a newborn? If you think that you need to relax now, you're in for a rude awakening.

I'm sorry, but if I had a friend in real life, or if my brother or husband had this issue, I'd seriously kick them in the ass and tell them to get into AA/NA.

Look, I don't know you or pretend to understand your situation, but how do you think this is enriching your marriage or life? You're not 15 years old, living with your parents and watching Bevis and Butthead in the basement anymore. Christ, man. Get yourself together.
posted by dancinglamb at 4:01 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm going to disagree with a lot of the comments here and suggest you are self-medicating for the diagnoses you describe. Marijuana is often used to treat the symptoms of ADD and anxiety, and I truly don't understand the difference in attitude towards this drug and those that come in pretty blister packs or a bottle. How is a reliance on pot an addiction but a reliance on Strattera (or ritalin, or whatever) not? If the pot helps you sleep, take it - you are treating a physical dysfunction with a substance that people have been successfully using to treat the same dysfunction for centuries.
posted by goo at 4:07 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oops, just reread your question - substitute 'being able to relax' for 'not sleeping'.
posted by goo at 4:10 PM on August 22, 2007

I would suggest, as others have, to try something other than Straterra. I was using it for anxiety and ADD, and it didn't do enough. So I switched to a benzodiazapene, an antidepressant (as an anxiolytic) and Adderall. In combination, it has changed my life. If your doctor doesn't want to mess around with your meds, get a new one. Mine will try anything that he thinks might work, and I love him for it.
posted by nursegracer at 4:11 PM on August 22, 2007

Contrary to all the trite hippy stuff you see in High Times, weed is bad for you. It is linked to lung disease and mental disorders like schizophrenia and dementia. I kid you not.

Actually, the risk associated with marijuana was only slightly higher (40% higher I believe), which indicates to others that it may be helping instead. The reasoning goes like this: a drug typically attracts self-medicating types, like alcohol does. But alcohol has 10-20 times the risk associated with schizophrenia (reported to be as high as 800%)--because mentally ill people use it to deal with their problems. So, a 40% increase is simply finding some of those who are self-medicating first. This explains why schizophrenia has remained constant in areas where pot use has exploded. Having said that, using any drug everyday is an addiction and should be treated, because one will void their own life in order to service the addiction.
posted by Brian B. at 4:20 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't care what you do. If pot makes you feel like less of a jerk than booze, and you have no interest in learning to cope without that kind of help, fine.

But please do not have kids until you have learned to handle life without chemical assistance. Children are not going to make your life less stressful or help you kick a habit you couldn't kick on your own.

I don't know how else to put that without sounding mean. But SERIOUSLY, GUY: no kids until you have your shit together.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:22 PM on August 22, 2007

Consider also that doing hobbies or other evening activities and having a drink/smoke needn't be mutually exclusive. Once you've found stuff to do with your time, you may find your urge for intoxicants is naturally reduced, and you tend to moderation rather than excess.
posted by MetaMonkey at 5:10 PM on August 22, 2007

Get a dog. You'll need to walk it, at least a couple times a day, and the dog will remind you about this, insistently, if you forget. In the evenings, you'll play with it, feed it and train it. In return, the dog will remind you not to be an asshole, every day.

All the benefits of a hobby, plus emotional involvement, and a cold nose in your hand, whenever you're blue or the world isn't your oyster...
posted by paulsc at 5:17 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's hard to stop being an addict, so most of us switch to a more benign addiction. Try several out and see which can replace the behaviors you have now. I like music: I play guitar, banjo, uke, etc. I also like programming...Both activities are absorbing enough and pleasurable enough that I have quit drinking to get drunk, quit smoking, etc. because they interfere with more compelling pleasures. So, first start looking for replacement behaviors while you begin to taper off.
posted by RussHy at 5:20 PM on August 22, 2007

The problem is what to do between 9 and 12 p.m.

So when do you get up in the morning and how much sleep do you get at night? You did say originally:

I need to smoke/drink before going to bed – and not because I have trouble sleeping

I'm interpreting that to mean that insomnia is not one of your problems, but rather that you have a habit of doing this before bedtime. Maybe you could go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and do something productive (like reading Metafilter) in the morning before you go to work.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:50 PM on August 22, 2007

You need to view these additional activities people are recommending as new kinds of "rewards." I also advocate using a very specific goal system. For example, "I will go for a 10 minute walk five nights a week." Tiny steps like that. Slowly, add new habits like this which you will enjoy or can learn to enjoy, as a treat you give yourself.

I would specifically suggest going on a strict drug diet. As in X drinks/bowls per week or only on the weekends. Write it down, put it on the fridge, whatever. Be accountable.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:56 PM on August 22, 2007

Well, thanks to everyone who told him to get a hobby, I now feel silly for answering the actual question!
posted by ThFullEffect at 6:25 PM on August 22, 2007

Wow. I refrain from using either and I still think this is a terrif question.

Me? After being in college (alcohol) and graduate (pot and alcohol) school for fifteen years, and working for BC's Cannabis Culture Magazine (pot), I moved back to Key West and took up snorkeling.

For me, the cure was discovering the right activity and the right location!
posted by humannaire at 7:30 PM on August 22, 2007

I suggest KavaKava - drink it in a chocolate mud or make a nice tea. It's a social stimulant and gives a slight euphoria similar to alcohol, and the studies that suggested a correlation between liver damage and Kava have been proven false - so it's WAY healthier for you than alcohol.
posted by DecemberRaine at 9:08 PM on August 22, 2007

It's probably not as helpful an answer as one might wish, but have you considered what kind of partner you're being to your wife?

A husband who consistently is drunk/stoned every evening and considers this the high--pardon the pun--point of his evening is not a partner most women would be happy with.

It's one I'd walk out on.

Do you not owe it to her to try and build some kind of life together, and do so sober?

My answer is do not get drunk OR high every night. Please.
posted by Savannah at 9:17 PM on August 22, 2007

Did anyone suggest "get a dog" yet? Or a cat.
posted by salvia at 9:46 PM on August 22, 2007

I get high every night. Works for me. Might not work for you. Try different things. See what works for you.
posted by tehloki at 10:57 PM on August 22, 2007

My ex sounds a lot like you. I am perfectly happy doing my own thing (I read a lot, knit, spend time online etc), true, but I would MUCH PREFER to be doing something with my partner. I put up with it for a long time, but it was one of the reasons we eventually split.

If you have a few drinks, does your wife join in? Perhaps you could make some kind of arrangement where you sit down together and share a bottle of red a few nights a week, and the other nights, you can try and find constructive ways to relax.

2nding the idea of getting a dog, you could take it for walks or just play with it. Learn to play guitar! Take a night cvlass! Become a photography whizz! Develop an obsession with obscure European indie films! Just don't waste your life— and marriage— by being out of your head. Use your obvious* intelligence and curiosity for something good, don't just dampen them down with brain-deadening drugs.

*well, you ARE on mefi! haha
posted by indienial at 11:03 PM on August 22, 2007

Been there, and for a lot longer. I was not a big drinker but I've smoked a few forests and done a bunch of other stuff as well. I've also been on ADD medication for six or seven months and I have had mild social anxiety since childhood.

If it's one or the other, pick weed. You can do better, but if you want to stay where you're at, weed doesn't get people involved in tragedies at anywhere near the scale of alcohol. And if you ever became a serious alcoholic, quitting can be pretty rough.

Strattera can have a number of ugly side effects. Finding out how you react without any interference from other substances is pretty important. Many physicians are unwilling to prescribe amphetamines to former drug users so they like to start with strattera. Check out for more information. If you are interested in how it might interact with weed or alcohol, someone there can tell you. Amantadine, another medication that is not a controlled substance, does not get too much attention in the ADD community but a number of patients have reported that it is effective with low side effects. ADD is an off label use so you may need to introduce the possibility to your doctor.

I've been clean for a few years. Some of that was due to wanting to make a change, some of it resulted from a change in circumstances. I'm not committed to complete sobriety but I'll never use at anywhere near the same rate, multiple times daily. What motivates me to stay sober is knowing that when I'm sober there is contact with the world around me. The main attraction that intoxication held for me was the promise of richer experience. Like you, I get bored easy. And I've always been motivationally challenged as well. Movies, walks outside, chores - all of them are supposedly enriched by getting high. Sometimes, but not often. Instead of more responsive and engaged I get numb. When I'm using I'm also more of a susceptible to the pull of my feelings. How I feel about doing something takes on too much importance. I know I'm sounding like an anti-drug commercial, and hearing it from someone else doesn't make a difference. Realizing it for myself did.

Substances also did nothing to help with social anxiety. All of my issues with groups remain. I know people can have incredible experiences of growth when intoxicated. I'm not a Puritan. But the more regular the use the more unlikely one is to have that kind of experience.

I encourage you to try some sort of meditative practice as well. There are various relaxation techniques you can do but most of them induce a trance. That's fine for alleviating stress but since my concern was about bringing more presence into my life, an awareness practice was a more appropriate choice. You don't need to take a course, or join up with a community, or get instruction from some expert. Meditation is easy. Just count breaths, one to ten, and then again. Pay attention. If an internal monologue is going, detach and observe instead of getting sucked in. Do it for as long or as little as you like. Give it a shot. I suspect that within a couple of weeks you'll notice some benefits and you will also know that it can not coexist with regular substance use. You may find as you become more present and aware of what you have at each point through the day, that the need for a reward to make the rest of the day 'worth it' diminishes. I also suspect that you will start recognizing interests that will fill your evenings.

Best wishes.

P.S. Fucking around with opiates, especially habitual use, is a bad idea. That is the highway to being a sucker to your feelings. And by sucker to your feelings, I mean the grosser more physiological ones, the subtler ones you'll probably never know.
posted by BigSky at 7:15 AM on August 23, 2007

Meditation has proven effects on the brain and it seems like just the ticket for someone who needs to relax without drugs. Plus it teaches you how to deal with that "bored" feeling.

Meditation for people with ADD (just skip the stuff about Buddhism if it's not your cup of tea)

ADD and Meditation Tips (no spiritual references)

Meditation relaxes guy with ADD

posted by desjardins at 7:31 AM on August 23, 2007

9 to midnight? Dude, have you considered sleeping?!

The end of the day for me is not remotely useful. The beginning is my very best time. So I sleep early and rise early. Evening is nothing but dinner and relaxing before bed. My partner is very happy with this arrangement. The early rising makes those first hours entirely mine, not some employer's. When I'm working, I often do work stuff in that time, but only if I'm in the mood.
posted by Goofyy at 7:55 AM on August 23, 2007

I really do appreciate everyone’s advice and suggestions. The few comments suggesting that I not have kids until I’m more stable are completely understandable, but stung a little. To clarify, I don’t plan to have kids for at least 3 to 4 years from now. I sometimes wonder whether I should have children at all because of my genetic/psychological make up. Then again, I think that I could provide just as much love and support as anyone else. I may have psychological issues, but I’m trying to address them, and I sure that many kids grow up with worse.

Also, I do understand that my addiction and general withdrawal from life is completely unfair to my wife. She deserves more from me and I hope to be able to give her more in the near future. This process of asking a question and reading everyone’s answers has been very cathartic and enlightening for me. Somehow things are never as clear in my head as when they are put into words.

Anyway, as suggested a number of times, I do plan to get a dog. My wife has been suggesting this for months, and will be thrilled. Also, I will take the suggestions and make an effort to try some simple meditation every day (thanks for the links desjardins). I tried meditation a few times in the past and found that it helped. Somewhat ironically, the problem was that I had trouble sitting still long enough to do it. Also, I like the idea of sleeping and waking up earlier. I’m not sure what I would do so early in the morning, but this idea is so simple that it just might work.
posted by metawabbit at 9:21 AM on August 23, 2007

What did you do in the evenings before you started drinking/smoking? What changed to make that no longer appealing?
posted by happyturtle at 9:33 AM on August 23, 2007

Somewhat ironically, the problem was that I had trouble sitting still long enough to do it.

It's called practice in Buddhism for a reason. I don't have ADD, meditate more-or-less daily, and sometimes I still have trouble sitting still. Cut yourself some slack. You wouldn't expect to be a guitar virtuoso the first time you picked up a six string. Meditation is really no different.
posted by desjardins at 10:51 AM on August 23, 2007

The responses to this thread have been really generous and interesting. A couple things:

1. Have you tried blogging? It can take up an enormous amount of time and if you did it everyday from 9 to 12, you would be left with a record of what you did that day, and it might be a good way to straighten out your feelings, keep track of how your medication is doing. It could be public or private (I suspect there are many people who would be interested in reading about your situation, if you chose to blog about that).

If that's too intense, try Ask MeFi, Chowhound, RemedyFind, or any site with questions that you can answer. You learn a lot and you'll have the added bonus of helping people out, which feels good (as regulars on this site can surely attest).

2. Parenting + pot smoking is a bad idea. Kids know when you're high. They're told to "just say no" or some variation in school, and they see you flouting that at home. I know you're waiting a few years to have kids, but I agree with the poster who decided to clear the house of illegal substances (regardless of how "harmless") before kids entered the picture.

Good luck.
posted by annabellee at 12:03 PM on August 23, 2007

Grow up a little. I don't mean this unkindly, but just stop and think: is alcohol OR weed going to do you any good? Improving yourself is rarely simple or easy but your current problem is not a difficult one to solve. Quit the booze and the pot and instead do ANYTHING else. There's a world of interesting possibilities out there that you KNOW you're missing when you're dependent on drugs.

Lots of great advice from others above and I hope you take it.
posted by Chris4d at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2007

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