Hello Dr Schwartz. Please help me: I have been in a relationship with a man who is kind but has smoked cannabis for twenty years and also drank up to one and a half bottles of whiskey every week, along with several bottles of red wine. I did not know this when we met and by the time I realised a couple of months later it was too late, I had fallen in love. To be fair he has given up the cannabis (a year ago) but can’t stop smoking tobacco and he has reduced his alcohol intake although he still has to have some alcohol every day, be it beer or wine. If he has to go without he isn’t happy about it but at least he can do that for a day; last year he would pretend to go without but indulged in secret drinking. I appreciate the efforts he has made but my father was an alcoholic (it killed him) and he also smoked cannabis and took other drugs for most of his adult life. I am the exact opposite, never smoke, hardly touch alcohol and am a fitness instructor at a gym. I get upset when my partner has to have alcohol every day. Am I being unreasonable? Is it normal to have a couple of alcoholic drinks every day? I do not know. None of my friends do this. He said he needed the alcohol and cannabis to help him with stress but he works from home and does not have a stressful job. I do understand that people manage stress in different ways but I do not think it is realistic or safe to depend on drugs as a way of coping. He used to have terrible mood swings but has been better of late. I love him but my fear is that he will eventually return to his former habits and I will end up like my mother in a bad relationship controlled by alcohol and drugs. Am I being too hard on him? I just do not know. Thank you. Kind regards, Elizabeth.
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The memory of your father is not dooming your relationship. It is this man’s love affair with marijuana and alcohol that is dooming the relationship. Notice how I phrased that first sentence? In other words, he has a relationship with alcohol that seems to come first and you come second. This is what usually happens when substances are involved.
It is a very positive thing that he has given up the marijuana but he is no where near really dealing with the alcohol. He needs help to get off of alcohol and that help is available through Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, he should speak to his medical doctor about medication that is now available to help people end their alcohol abuse without the symptoms of craving, wishing or wanting to drink.
You are correct in fearing that you could end up in a bad relationship like that of your mother because it is controlled by drugs. You are not being hard on him. Quite to the contrary, you are helping him to face the reality of substance abuse and what it does to relationships, mood, depression and health. He has stopped smoking marijuana and now it is time for him to stop drinking.
One more thing I want to point out is that his substance abuse might very well result from depression and stress. It would probably be a good idea for him to take anti depressant medication and be in psychotherapy as ways to remain sober and free of mood swings and depression.