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If He Quits Pills & Gambling, Can He Still Smoke Pot?

couple talking, woman's hands down

AiR member frustr8ed2 has written in about her husband, whom she left after almost 30 years together, because of his addiction problems. She would like to use the AiR approach to help him, and wonders about whether she can leave his pot smoking aside for now…

"Hi! I have been married for 23 years and with my husband for almost 30 years. He is addicted to meth and pills. A little over a year ago, I left our home hoping that he would stop using meth and gambling. Since then, he has told me how he has changed. When it is just him and I, I can see the change (he is not using) but after a couple of days, he goes back to his house that he and his girlfriend share. She provides him with meth and now pills. She is also an abuser and an alcoholic. They have violent encounters with each other which has never happened in our relationship. He says he wants to work on our marriage (I know addicts lie) and work out his relationship with his children. Since our last time we spent together, she has began to seclude him from his family and all friends. The only contact he has is with her family and friends (all users).

After watching the videos yesterday, I have realized that the way I handled his use was all wrong. I blamed him for everything not realizing that it is a disease/illness. I have been looking back through our relationship and now can see the signs of when the use started (always after something traumatic). I don't hold any hard feelings against this other woman because I am the one who left him instead of trying to understand the situation. I am praying that the more he and I talk he will see that she is not with him for him. Thanks for listening to our background.

Now for the question…When I met my husband back in high school, he smoked marijuana and still continues to today. In the beginning, it was strictly for pleasure. After being electrocuted by an underground cable at work and being unable to work due to injury and pain, he began to smoke marijuana to relieve his pain. Pain medication just made him sleep for days and no real life. Smoking marijuana allows him to function and live with a little less pain.

So my question is…in the video, it talks about moderation. If my husband were able to quit doing meth and pills would it be wrong for him to smoke marijuana? I really don't have a problem with the marijuana because it does not change who he is but if he continues to smoke marijuana will that just tempt him more to do meth? At this time, I don't think that I can get him into rehab, but I am going to use the strategies in the videos to try to get him to moderate and show him that I am there for support and that I understand. A lot of my problem was my beliefs but when I take the time to understand and to think I can see what is causing the addiction. Thank you for any advice and for listening."

Behaviorism + Communication Skill Training = Relief for you and your Loved One

Compassion for the person struggling with addiction is important, AND hard to keep up. Our approach is based on behaviorism and communication skill training. When put together, the two are so much more effective on your Loved One and less exhausting on you. I am glad you found us and I hope we provide you a way forward. You’ve asked an excellent question … one that is challenging to answer.

Polyusers are individuals who use more than one drug/alcohol. It is extremely common. Your husband found pain relief with the marijuana and uses it regularly. It’s the methamphetamine, the pills, and the gambling that are clear problems for him and for you, and the reason you left your husband a year ago.

It is probably safe to say that both you and your husband would be happy to have him just smoking pot. If your husband succeeded in stopping all other drugs and gambling, he might actually find that the pot use would go up. It would depend on what he is doing to cope with his life and his cravings for the other drugs and the gambling. Is he getting solid therapeutic help? Recovery help? If not, he might end up filling the void for those other addictions by increasing his pot smoking.

Or, the high from the pot may not totally satisfy your husband, when compared to the highs he reached with the other drugs, and this could cause him frustration. If he’s already smoking pot, a drug, it is easier to justify taking it up a notch to another drug: the methamphetamine or an opiated pill, as opposed to being drug-free and justifying ruining that run of drug-free time.

Bottom line: if the pot is the moderation drug, and he is working on moderating it (hopefully with some good professional help), he will learn whether he can succeed at moderation.

Not sure how helpful this is in the abstract.

For now, let the pot alone and maintain your boundaries for the other substances

What you want to look for now is whether your husband is taking responsibility for the drug use and doing whatever he needs to stop using the big three: methamphetamine, pills, and gambling. I would agree with you that for now, let the pot alone. If and when he is just smoking pot, he can try moderation to see if he can succeed with it.

You’re in an interesting spot. You’ve removed yourself from your husband by moving out, and when you do see him, he refrains from using the hard drugs. It could be said you are rewarding his non-using behavior by spending time with him (leaving the pot out of the equation for now, which I suggest you do, by ignoring it). This is one of the main points in Module 5.

The question is whether you, your home, and your kids, when used as a reward, are enough to motivate him to want more by addressing the drug use. He has a strong pull going the other way with a woman and drugs at-the-ready. That all sounds very turbulent. He says he is interested in returning to the marriage. It’s going to be important to maintain the boundary of your life together as drug-free.

The work you'll need to do

Treatment is still the best answer we have for addiction. This blog post: the "roll up your sleeves" guide to assisting in recovery gives you a brief introduction to the work on this site, which includes an intervention to engage your husband into treatment. The work isn’t for everyone. You’ll need to look at making some changes too, in your communication, and perhaps in your behavior, especially in terms of holding the drug-free line. If he uses while with you, you’ll want to pull back, remove rewards, and allow natural consequences to occur (Module 6).

What will be hard is how those consequences may also affect you. You’ll have to ask your husband to leave perhaps, or you’ll need to suspend your ideas of a time line for when you get back into your marriage. You’ll want to get really centered in your own life and watch your expectations.

With the AiR approach, we help you move your Loved One towards recovery. The suggestions on this site are carefully made to do just that. I wish you all the best. Please check in and let us know how it is going.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)