AAPW: How Do I Get My Partner to Stop Using Recreational Drugs?


His actions impact my life, so can I get a say here?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

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Q:I came from a family (and lifestyle) where drugs were never used. They weren’t legal, so they were never a topic of discussion. Now, many of my current friends and colleagues will occasionally smoke pot on social occasions—something that was quite a shock to me when I realized how prolific it was, but something I’m now used to. I don’t partake when it happens, because it’s not something that interests me, but I don’t mind being around others who are.

Where our problem lies is in the issue of stronger drugs. My partner went to a school where it was normal to use drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and more at parties and festivals. When I met my partner, I knew he had tried stronger drugs in the past, but didn’t realize that he still used them. When I found out a couple of years ago, we had a big discussion/argument in which I ended up in tears for a number of reasons—primarily the fact that I hadn’t known about that side of him and felt like he had broken my trust by not telling me (which he said was because he knew I wouldn’t approve). At that time, we agreed that he would no longer use drugs (apart from marijuana), and particularly that he would be open with me if the subject came up, and he has kept his word on this.

The issue has come up a few times since then (the past two years), in varying situations. I believe we both have valid opinions (from our own perspectives and upbringings), although very different.

My side is that it’s illegal. I don’t fully understand the health risks and have read stories about mental illness and death in the past, which worries me. And finally, I feel like his decisions are no longer just about himself but do have (or could have) an effect on me, ranging from me having to be the one to look after him if he’s not well on a particular night—or longer-term if something goes wrong—to large fines or other legal consequences, to me worrying about him whether I’m there or not. I want to know what he’s doing and don’t want to be left out of part of his life that’s important to him, but I also don’t really want to know about it because I don’t want to have to take (part) responsibility for his actions, or feel like I need to look after him. Essentially, I just don’t want him to want to take them anymore, which isn’t the case.

So my question is—how do we bridge this gap when we both have strong opinions? I don’t want him to feel like he’s missing out on something that (to him) has very little risk and has been an important and enjoyable part of his life in the past. Is it something worth going to counseling for, or is there a risk of them reporting him due to the illegality (I assume not, as it’s relatively minor)? I know that part of my aversion is the lack of knowledge and understanding—is there a trustworthy source for actual facts about risks and consequences (health and legal)? Is there something else we can do to get on the same page?

—Anti Drug Girlfriend

A: Dear ADG,

You’re right when you say that his decisions completely impact you from now on. Quirks, habits, hobbies, and flaws all are suddenly a part of your life when you agree to tie yourself to somebody. It’s not always a positive thing.

You pose your questions under the assumption that one of you can win over the other, and I’m concerned that that’s not entirely plausible. Go ahead and do that digging, read up on things, and share with him whatever knowledge you gather (Erowid has a lot of information that you might find helpful). I’ll open it up to the readers in just a second for other good sources of info on the topic, but before we do that, let’s come at this assuming what tends to happen most often: neither of you much change your minds. What if you both do a ton of reading and land exactly where you are now? What then?

You very well could say, “Hey this bothers me, can you take it out of your life completely?” But, because you guys are coming at this from very different perspectives, it’s unlikely that could work out. Let me explain what I mean.

There are a few ways that being in a relationship can change a person. We all (hopefully, ideally) change our flaws at least a bit in partnering up. My husband doesn’t see bettering me as part of his job description, but just by nature of being around him, I’m forced to be less terrible.

Many of us also find new interests as a result of a good relationship. We try new foods, get sucked into new TV shows, discover new places to go and things to do. Lots of us add new hobbies as a result of a good partner. But very few of us drop them. I would actually worry quite a bit if a friend said, “I used to love competitive model ship building, but that was before I met Stan,” or, “K convinced me to stop whitewater rafting.”

The problem is that you see this as a flaw, and he sees it as a hobby. The likelihood of “stop doing this thing” working out when you aren’t aligned in how you see “this thing” is pretty slim. If you both agreed that this was a bad thing, it’d be a no-brainer. You’d figure out how to make it easy for him to stop, the way I try to make it easier for my partner to stop forgetting stuff. If you both agreed that this was an innocuous, fun thing, of course it’d be okay for it to continue, the way my continued obsession with Project Runway (yes, still) is tolerated. But you guys don’t agree. You think it’s a bad thing; he thinks it’s innocuous. That means even if he does agree to stop, that agreement could breed resentment (particularly if it means skipping some specific outings with friends, or even cutting certain friends completely). It could add tension. It could create a layer of dishonesty and mistrust (things that have already crept in before).

If you guys aren’t able to convince one another in one direction or another and asking him to just stop seems unlikely, it becomes a question for you. Can you live with this for the rest of your life? Assume that nothing changes. In fact, imagine worst-case scenario. The nights of not feeling well, the fines and arrests, the occasional tense conversations about how much and when, and more to the point, the worry and disappointment that you describe. This kind of decision is difficult, but it’s not unique to your situation. No partnership is perfect, so there’s a point in every relationship where both people see the negatives and decide, “Okay, yeah, but I can live with this.” For you, is this livable?

That question has just a bit of flex to it. Maybe you can live with it, but only within certain parameters. Maybe you can figure out some expectations that would make you feel more comfortable with the whole thing—he always lets you know in advance, or he doesn’t actually meet up with the dealer. You’re right, it may be a good idea to meet with a counselor to discuss those parameters and expectations (no, they can’t turn you in for sharing about drug use). Or, you know, ideally your original questions are right on, and someone in the comments today shares a link that totally changes either your mind or his. But more likely, you’re going to have bad feelings if he continues to use drugs, and he’ll have bad feelings if you ask him to stop and he acquiesces. Are those bad feelings something you can live with?

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Meg

    I dated a guy who saw using drugs as a hobby. We dated for about 2-3 years. My major qualm was that he had a heart condition and I honestly just didn’t like the attitude him and his friends had about it. Things did end up ending partially because of my discomfort with his drug habit. I did kind of feel like he chose that lifestyle over me, which hurt at first. I wouldn’t want someone to tell me to change my lifestyle though, so it’s only fair.

    Let him live that life and make those mistakes. It sounds like that isn’t for you, it wasn’t for me either. There are lots of great people who have the same feelings about hard drugs.

  • Violet

    This strikes me as really challenging to resolve. Many arguments or negotiations in relationships are hard,
    obviously. But the ones that can be resolved tend to be an issue of how, not why. For example, the couple agrees that they want to be financially responsible, but how to go about doing that? This person saves, that person invests; that’s something to work out. You agree on the overall priority of the value in your life, and then go from there.

    But this is a difference of priority in values. You seem to value legal consequences, health, and maybe overall safety higher than your partner does. He values connecting with friends on a level that requires altering his mind. Even if you found research showing the danger, if he ultimately values this connection and hobby above risk for adverse events, it’s really not going to change the calculus for him.

    You can negotiate a how, I don’t know if you can negotiate a strong difference in value priority. If maybe you
    prioritize health first and he prioritized it second, that would be close enough. But if you guys each made a list, ranking your values in order of importance, I think there might be a really large gap between yours and his.
    And I just am not sure how you’d change that without resentment, as Liz points out.

  • Amy March

    I feel like what have we come to when you feel the need to be apologetic and understanding and trying to learn more and being willing to compromise on hard drugs. Honestly, what?!?!?!!!! No, you don’t need to acknowledge that you are uncomfortable for lack of knowledge and understanding. No, using cocaine, ecstasy, and meth isn’t normal.

    It really concerns me that you’ve lost your confidence in yourself. You don’t need to be apologetic about taking the position that using dangerous and illegal drugs is not okay.

    It’s unclear to me whether he is still abiding by your agreement and isn’t using drugs, but wants to, or whether he is currently using. Either way, I don’t think you need to do more research or learn more or go to counseling to say “hey, this keeps being an issue. So we are clear, it is completely unacceptable to me for you to ever use hard drugs again. They’re dangerous, illegal, and I want no part of them. Is that something that you can make work? You keep mentioning wanting to use them, and I’m not okay with it at all. I’m not interested in being your mom and telling you to just say no all the time, and I’m also not going to be in a relationship with a drug user.”

    • anon

      Agreed that meth use isn’t normal, but I think you’d be REALLY surprised how many urban and suburban millennials use cocaine, especially. I definitely have been. It kind of messes with your head regarding what’s “normal” and/or commonplace, so I can sympathize with the OP on that part.

      • Amy March

        Oh, I know lots of people who use it. I just don’t think that makes it normal! Very sympathetic though- I agree that it can be really hard to hold onto your values.

    • Eenie

      I also think they could have avoided this huge standoff years into the relationship if he had said something earlier on. He obviously knew her position and chose to hide this fact from her. That’s honestly what would piss me off. He chose to put her in the current dilemma (after years of being invested in this relationship), and it’s a very valid position to not want your forever partner and potential father of your children to refrain from illegal drugs (with an exception for pot).

      • Caroline

        Or even without an exception for pot. We have a clearly stated expectation in our relationship that recreational drug use is not acceptable, including pot.

        • Eenie

          Yes, I included that because I thought even that is a huge compromise! We are a drug free household – including tobacco but excluding alcohol.

        • Lauren from NH

          Yeah I think there are a lot of ways this can look for different people. On just pot for example, some people might not want it in their lives at all, some might be cool being friends with people who do it but don’t want to be around, some might not mind being around it, some might want to participate occasionally, some might be regular users. In a relationship I think values wise you need to be on the same page even if your participation level is different, like a non drinker with someone who drinks.

          • pajamafishadventures

            Exactly. I have no problem with someone using pot, support its legalization, and would absolutely never live with (and by that nature, be involved in a serious relationship with) someone who used it because of my aversion to the smell. Same with a cigarette smoker.

            I think there’s this idea that dealbreakers need to be something really extreme, but really they can be any topic on which you feel strongly and need that alignment.

          • Liz

            “I think there’s this idea that dealbreakers need to be something really extreme, but really they can be any topic on which you feel strongly and need that alignment.”

            Yes!

    • AP

      Yes to everything you said.

    • “It really concerns me that you’ve lost your confidence in yourself. You don’t need to be apologetic about taking the position that using dangerous and illegal drugs is not okay.” Yes yes yes yes yes. Replace “…using dangerous and illegal drugs is not okay” with a different but equally disconcerting issue, and this is exactly the advice I wish I had gotten (and that I wish I’d been ready to hear) a few years ago with my ex.

      It’s not your job to do mental gymnastics (as my therapist at the time so eloquently put it) to get more on board with a position that you vehemently disagree with, particularly when that position has serious effects on your life.

    • TeaforTwo

      One thing that I have learned in my marriage is that “normal” isn’t usually a very helpful concept.

      My spouse does a few things that I find to be bafflingly abnormal. Some are benign and funny, some are more serious, and are the fights that we are going to be having for the rest of our lives. It never helps to talk about “normal,” though, because I didn’t marry normal, I married him. I can explain why I don’t like X behaviour, what it feels like for me when he does Y, why Z may offend other people. I can ask him to do or not do something just because it’s important to me, even if he doesn’t get it. (And he can likewise ask me to let something slide just because it’s important to him, even if I don’t get it.)

      Drug and alcohol use can be huge issues in relationships. I’ve always told friends who were in relationship distress over it that there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong – it’s more important that you’re on the same page about it.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I hear you, girl.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      This is 100% a dealbreaker for me. There are a number of reasons for that (family history of drug abuse, parent who did drugs in the house and I still remember the smell like yesterday) but I don’t even feel like explaining why this is a dealbreaker is required. I’m not interested in being with someone who uses illegal drugs. Period.

  • anon for this

    Like your boyfriend’s college, our school had drug use weaved into its very center—I participated to an extent (mostly marijuana and a few hallucinogens, plus one try at MDMA), but soon decided that altering my brain chemistry made me feel out of control and lost, so it wasn’t something I wanted to have in my life. It also made me feel extremely guilty and shameful, which isn’t a fun feeling to have living over your head. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was much freer with his usage and enjoyed himself. Our tensions started when he started using cocaine, which I was always vehemently opposed to. But “everyone did it,’ and I was definitely seen as the uptight walking Anti-Drug PSA who overstated the dangers of drug use.

    Then the coke dealer who came to campus every day murdered someone over a payment gone wrong. Shot him in the back of the head and buried the body in a forest 15 minutes away from campus. And my outlook on drugs changed from uptight-and-guilty to righteous, frankly.

    So maybe this is all tangential, but just pointing out that illegal drug use has way more far reaching consequences than just what you put in your body. You have to deal with people and places and things (all sorts of nouns, really) that exist in a world that most normal people should want no part of. Not to mention that the source of most of those drugs are sourced from areas with extreme violence and human exploitation. You are not “square” for not wanting that in your life.

    • Violet

      Your last paragraph gave me chills. Yep.

    • Amy March

      The idea that recreational hard drug use is no big deal and is unlikely to have consequences is such a breathtakingly arrogant statement of privilege to me.

      • anon for this

        You’d be amazed (or maybe not…) at how many of my fellow students responded to the murder with a “shit happens” shrug because the alternative would mean considering the moral and ethical implications of purchasing nose candy, as they called it. I loved my education overall, but that callousness still haunts me. Maybe some of them were addicted, but I think most just wanted to continue their “lifestyle” without impediment. And my freaking out that I had interacted with a MURDERERwhatthefuck was just me being, like, judgy and uncool, man.

        • anon for this

          #notallcokedealers

          • Anon for this too

            thank you!

          • anon for this

            if you’re thanking me in earnest for saying not all cocaine dealers are like that, it’s actually meant to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NotAllMen

            Basically, it’s what people I knew would more or less say (not so modernly back then) to deflect the fact that drug dealing is generally a shady business with a lot of danger, unethical behaviors and choices, including frequent loss of life. They just didn’t want to own up to the fact that their buddies were part of a system like that and were culpable for their direct actions, as well as any indirect actions of their associates and higher-ups. And on a slightly tangential note, they were also pretty racist, making tons of excuses for their white, college-educated, well-off dealer friends versus the “other type” (i.e., usually hispanic or black, without a college education, from a poor background) saying, “It’s not like he’s a thug! He’s a business man!” kind of bullshit.

            (if I misunderstood, apologies for the unnecessary explanation!)

        • Roselyne

          Yeah, thinking about the consequences of what you do, so uncool…

          *sigh of despair*

      • Kara E

        Yup. Pretty much.

        Mandatory minimums, anyone?

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I will just say it. My husband is black. Yeah. That’s not going down over here.

    • z

      “Not to mention that the source of most of those drugs are sourced from areas with extreme violence and human exploitation.”

      +1 on this. It boggles my mind when people are particular about fair-trade coffee, yet they’re fine with drug cartels.

      • A

        Yeah, there’s no “Kimberly Certified” cocaine. So long as these drugs are illegal and unregulated, users are contributing directly to the Mexican drug war. I hold educated casual users especially accountable.

        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/drug-lord/the-staggering-death-toll-of-mexicos-drug-war/

        If you care more about having fun at a party than that? I hope you can sleep okay. And yes, illegal marijuana falls into this as well. Big part of why legalization is a good thing (though that won’t stop cartels).

        • InHK

          My husband and I honeymooned in Colorado because a) camping b) bluegrass festival and c) legal marijuana. I have no problem with smoking weed; I do have a HUGE problem with cartels and the horrific violence and slavery America’s insatiable appetite for drugs creates and feeds.

          I listened to a Fresh Air where an author spoke about cartels – apparently legalization of weed in just two states cut the trade of that drug over the border by 40%.

          Maybe LW should have her partner read El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency. That no big deal, good time you’re having? It happens (in part) thanks to slave labor.

    • Caroline

      Also, many people are not aware that police can seize assets in drug busts. This can include your car if they find the drugs there, and your house if they find drugs there, and what’s in them, and sell them at auction to find their budget. This is true even if jointly owned. That is a huge liability to subject your spouse and children to, which is something to consider in whether he is a suitable long term partner and another fair reason to it’s reasonable to say you don’t want hard drugs in your life.

      Personally, I wouldn’t be with someone who said “Hon, I know that if I ever got caught with these drugs, I could be sent to jail for a very long time, or the cops could sell the family home or car out from under you, but this is my hobby and it is important to me.”

      • z

        +1. Also, would he lose his job? And maybe his professional license too?

        • Eenie

          Every time I considered smoking pot, it always came down to the fact that if I needed to job search, I would be stressed about passing the drug test. That alone is enough of a deterrent for me. And the fact that if you get injured at work most of the time they run a drug test. It depends on the circumstances on whether it’s a fireable offense if you fail. I think our company gives you a one time pass to go through rehab and be retested periodically.

      • MABie

        I am a criminal defense attorney, and I just want to be clear about this: police cannot “seize” and sell your house if your recreational drugs are found in it. Police can arrest you and collect evidence. Under some circumstances, your car, as evidence, could be taken and impounded — but those are very limited circumstances that are highly unlikely to apply in a situation like this.

        Your family house cannot just be taken away from you and sold when you are arrested. Police absolutely do not have authority to do anything like that.

        • z

          +1. But, there can be very serious financial consequences (such as losing his job) that, in the medium term, may result in having to sell the house.

          • MABie

            Oh, totally!! I didn’t mean to imply that that isn’t the case, I’m sorry. I just didn’t want the LW thinking that the cops will show up, find the partner with half a gram of coke, and then just…take their house and all of their stuff.

          • Caroline

            Yes, you’re right, maybe I worded it wrong! I just have recently had people in my life whose drug use spiraled from “it’s just fun and under control” to drug dealing, abusive relationships and ruined marriages. So I’m pretty down on the idea that one can use drugs safely and not spiral out of control right now, which may not be fair. It’s just what’s coming up for me because of things in my life right now. So I may have misrepresented the risk.

          • MABie

            I think we were just ships passing in the night, Caroline! I think you’re absolutely right that these things can spiral out of control and get into a very scary and awful place in the blink of an eye. I am the child of an addict, and am definitely no stranger to that fear.

        • Anon for this

          My husband (boyfriend at the time) was arrested for marijuana and mushrooms a few years ago, and his vehicle was seized. It was reaaaaaaaaally hard to get back. At one point, he had to make arrangement to pay off the rest of the loan immediately to get it back. I’m not sure it was entirely legal, how the cops handled it, but it sucked.

          John Oliver has also done stories on how this kind of thing happens more than you would think. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB0QtwIwAGoVChMIjI2GzYuzyAIVRjo-Ch0JyAUE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D3kEpZWGgJks&usg=AFQjCNFHYFUQwMzIyxA8uRzIwVxH13rNkg&bvm=bv.104615367,d.cWw

      • Caroline

        Someone pointed out to me in a deleted comment that this (asset seizure) might not be exactly how it works. I’m not a lawyer, and I might be misunderstanding the circumstances in which assets involved in drug trade can be seized (in fact, I definitely don’t know the details of those circumstances). But just the idea that it does in some circumstances happen so would be concerning for me were I considering a relationship with someone into hard drugs, and worth looking into.
        That said, I wanted to point out that I might be wrong.

        • MABie

          It was me! I was trying to edit my comment because I realized that I did not want to be giving anything resembling legal advice (there is a big distinction between civil and criminal forfeiture that I did not want to get into), but Disqus wouldn’t let me edit, so I deleted it. In the end, although the legality of a seizure would be very questionable, I totally get the sentiment here: the possibility of something like that happening is enough of a deterrent. I definitely did not mean to indicate that that was not something to consider. Really sorry about that.

  • z

    LW, do you want to have children with this man? Here are a few things to consider:

    1) The impact on male fertility.

    2) The amount of money he is devoting to this hobby, plus the potential legal costs and medical bills if there is a problem.

    3) What if he gets in legal trouble and child welfare authorities become involved in your household.

    4) Legal trouble can also make it very difficult to adopt.

    5) Are you ok being the sole sober parent when he is doing this? What if am emergency came up and he was unable to be a functioning parent?

    • AnneBonny

      It really sounds like this is an occasional recreational thing, not a chronic habit. It’s a ridiculous argument to say, “You can never, ever do this drug again because I don’t want to be the sole sober parent. I know we don’t have kids, but if we have kids there is NO WAY to discuss this then, so let’s just ban all drugs now.”

      • Eenie

        The risk is there for this to not become just “an occasional recreational thing”. Also, she used to think this was a thing of the past and no longer happened anymore, so he may have learned to hide it really well too. Most addicts don’t start out wanting to be an addict.

      • z

        Well, if you go by what the LW says, right now he’s not doing anything beyond pot. But he wants that to change. So we don’t know what it would be like. Plus, there are plenty of people who intend to be occasional recreational users but it doesn’t turn out that way.

        Kids are really, really expensive. I only have one child and it would be very, very hard to fit “occasional” use into our budget. We can barely afford takeout.

        • AnneBonny

          Yeah but they don’t HAVE kids, and indicate nowhere that they even want kids. She clearly doesn’t want him to do drugs whether or not they have kids, so coming up with additional reasons why some people maybe shouldn’t do drugs seems really unhelpful to me.

          • z

            I’m just asking the LW to bear in mind that if she compromises on this issue now, she may not be comfortable with that compromise in the long term.

      • raccooncity

        I don’t think that is very ricidulous. I’ve seen a minor, recreational drug habit (not pot) get in the way of being a good co-parent, not because of being high around the kids or anything, just because the desire to go have fun takes priority. And kids aren’t something you want to bet someone’s ability to change on, frankly.

        • Amy March

          I think it’s ridiculous to wait until you have kids and it’s too late to have this discussion. If you won’t or can’t or don’t want to stop committing a crime and endangering your health now, why am I going to trust your ability to make good choices later?

          • lady brett

            sure, but it is not ridiculous to include the kids you might have one day in the discussion about the consequences of your actions. it is a fundamentally different conversation to talk about how it will affect your children than how it will affect your spouse, which is again different than how it will affect yourself. if you draw a hard line those three conversations will be the same, but on an issue you feel is more nuanced, it could make a huge difference.

      • Anon

        I would expect my husband to give up snorting cocaine or doing ecstasies at raves WAY before we had kids. Well, I would have the expectation that he doesn’t do that at all because I find the purchasing of those illegal drugs to be highly immoral and unethical if you care at all about how they’re made, sourced, and sold, but I digress. Frankly, I just really don’t see how it’s a ridiculous argument to have the expectation of solidified foundational behavior prior to introducing new life (!) into your family.

        • Anon

          *ecstasy – I do know that there isn’t a plural. I sound like my grandmother talking about “the marijuana!!” But my point still stands.

      • lady brett

        i will say, from a child welfare system perspective, the specifics change from place to place (and case to case), but one parent being positive for drugs around the children can easily be cause for your kids to be removed – even if the other parent is sober, it is feasible for them to be charged with failure to protect if they know about the drug use. admittedly, usually people don’t come into the child welfare system for drugs *only* but it absolutely can happen. the judges i know take a hard line that *any* drug use inherently makes you an unfit parent (i don’t agree, but that is generally where the law stands).

      • Lauren from NH

        I agree that there are no kids present or on the horizon in the letter so directing these warning towards the LW seems off base to me. We have no idea if she even wants kids! As I barely recall, there was a LW from a year or so ago who’s partner did some extreme sports. Anecdotally, I don’t recall such heavy warnings and hand ringing over THE CHILDREN then.

        I think it is totally relevant to discuss the effects of drug use even to the extreme, but applying extremes willy nilly repeatedly to the LW’s situation, I think is bad listening and unsympathetic.

        • z

          http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/08/fear-of-losing-someone/ If this is the thread you mean, it did come up.

          I just don’t think every comment has to be specific to LW’s situation. It seems fine to me to have a more general discussion running alongside.

          • Eenie

            Actually the top comment! A really good one too.

          • Lauren from NH

            Thank you for linking.

            The phrasing is what makes the difference me. Some of the comments here feel VERY assumption heavy rather than “something you guys might want to talk about”.

    • Anon4this

      I really feel this letter and this comment in numerous ways.

      My Dad did/does smoke pot to manage anxiety issues. I don’t think it helped his parenting skills. In fact the last fight we had, right before my wedding, was when he was high and could barely hold his end of the conversation. I felt really bad for my mom, who was present too, and basically had to function as the only adult on the parental “side” (for lack of a better word) during a difficult conversation.

      Obviously I was raised in a pretty liberal household. I experimented with drugs, mostly pot, in my 20s and early 30s — it was pretty common in my social circle. Fast forward to a few years ago, when I met my now-husband. He has major addiction issues in his family and did NOT want to date anyone who used drugs, ever. Because it was so important to him, and minimally important to me, I agreed to stop smoking pot (the only drug I ever really used). It did feel like a sacrifice, but a small one, and so worth it compared to the value of our relationship. I don’t regret it at all, and am actually concerned about how drug use could have negatively affected my brain over time.

  • Brigid

    My friend died of a heroin overdose last spring. He was convinced to the end that he was in control. I miss that guy. He was proud and funny, with cut-glass cheekbones and even sharper wit.

    • anon

      I’m sorry for your loss. Addiction is an asshole of a disease.

    • KM

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Lauren from NH

    I think this is just one of those lifestyle things where your values need to be compatible if not the same. Very much like kids, money or family. If not it will likely be a long term major problem. I would on both sides gather as much information as you can, share, and then sit down and see if there is any realistic middle ground to be found (for example you said you are comfortable with pot), yet I would prepared yourselves both to walk away if there is not.

    • Megan

      I agree. There are certain lifestyle things that are just dealbreakers. Maybe LW didn’t realize it was a deal breaker but you have to wonder, am I going to be okay with this behavior 10? 20? 30? years from now? Expecting people to change as they grow is not realistic so you have to know which hobbies/habits/lines are too much for you to take in the long haul.

    • Eenie

      Is she prepared to spend the rest of her life in disagreement over this issue if there is no compromise? For example: we are going to always disagree about where to live. I love winter, he hates winter. I hate summer, he loves summer. Add in family locations and we’re just screwed. We don’t have a compromise, we just fight about it every time it comes up. The pendulum swings back and forth. I’m ok with continuing to have this fight as circumstances change.

      • AP

        Yep. That’s the most likely scenario if nothing changes, I think. That they will continue to fight about this forever. Is that what either of them want?

      • Lauren from NH

        Oh that is a good point depending on how they feel. I think there are some fights in every relationship/marriage that you just continue to have because you are different people. I wouldn’t want this to be one of those personally, but everyone’s different.

        • Violet

          I’m happy to continue to have our repeated argument with my partner because it’s just a personality difference issue, not a values thing. We’re allowed to be different people and still function within a partnership (how boring to be with someone identical to you, even if possible?). But if I couldn’t live out my values because they conflicted with my partner’s, I couldn’t do that argument for the rest of my life. It’s not fair to either party.

          • Eenie

            In this case the real root of the issue is that our values are the same: family (and living near them). So I’ll have that fight until we die. But some people may not be ok with that, and it’s an instance where your values are the same but how you show them is different.

          • Violet

            You’re so right. Sometimes there really can’t be one answer that solves it, even when values are aligned. It’s really true.

  • AP

    I could have written this letter about my ex husband. Especially this part: “When I met my partner, I knew he had tried stronger drugs in the past, but didn’t realize that he still used them. When I found out a couple of years ago, we had a big discussion/argument in which I ended up in tears for a number of reasons—primarily the fact that I hadn’t known about that side of him and felt like he had broken my trust by not telling me (which he said was because he knew I wouldn’t approve).”

    My ex and I had many conversations over the years like the ones you describe, where I would cry and he would try to convince me his stance was normal and mine was uptight. My ex also made promises to stop. LW, you say your partner hasn’t used drugs in two years. That wasn’t the case for me. Instead, my partner let me believe his drug use was casual and that he had stopped, but six months after we married and joined our finances (read: legally and financially bound to each other) I learned that wasn’t true. It came to light that he regularly used cocaine and other drugs with his friends and coworkers, was deeply in debt to drug dealers, and was an addict. Our marriage ended after two years and three DUIs, a totaled car, emergency room visits, two stints in rehab, a felony, jail time, legal fees, depleted bank accounts, drug dealers coming to my home to collect money, it goes on. I don’t say this to scare you and I don’t necessarily believe this is what is happening/will happen with your partner, but I wonder why, if the matter was supposedly settled two years ago and he has quit using drugs, the issue still comes up between you. Who brings it up? Does he keep pushing you to change your position? Do you suspect he still does drugs behind your back?

    Whole, healthy people do not choose drugs over loved ones. I know some will disagree, but acknowledging this (with the help of a therapist) is what saved me from a lifetime of hurt. Leaving that marriage was the best decision I ever made. I’m not saying that’s what you should do, but I think the best thing you can do for yourself is find a good counselor you trust. One who can help you clarify your feelings about all this and give you tools to either stand firm with your partner or transition out of this relationship into one with someone who shares your values.

    • SJ

      I can co-sign (with my whole heart and tears in my eyes). There is so much more to this than your partner having a hobby that you dislike. I have lived most of AP’s second paragraph here and coming from a family that’s drug motto was “You Better Don’t”, I’m still a bit shocked by the depths people will go to so they can go on as if there isn’t a problem. Please, please take care of yourself. The life you save first, will be your own.

      • AP

        Hugs. Today’s letter brought back a lot of feelings and memories from a time in my life when I didn’t know I deserved better from a partner and relationship. There’s so much more I want to say to the LW, but every story is different and I don’t want to presume. But yeah. It’s not just about a hobby.

    • MABie

      AP, thank you for bravely sharing this story.

  • Lauren from NH

    Can I also toss out there, is this a behavior the partner may grow out of? Not necessarily saying this is an immature behavior, but if it is linked to festivals etc, interest in those events often fades as people get older, like binge drinking and other questionably unhealthy behaviors. Maybe this habit/hobby isn’t forever, just for now, which may make things easier for the LW or not.

    • Liz

      I’ve wondered about this too. On one hand… he probably will, like people do with all sorts of things you mention. But on the other hand, is it a great idea to make the call based on that hope?

      • Lauren from NH

        Oh I would recommend an explicit conversation about it, if the LW wants to factor it in at all. Hoping alone isn’t a good answer here.

    • pajamafishadventures

      That is very true, and it’s something I’ve observed a lot in my friend group- coming right out of undergrad recreational drug use is still some super fun thing and then they just seem to mature out of it, it starts to be more of a hassle to get, the trips aren’t as fun…

      but I would not recommend the LW bank on that being the case.

    • Roselyne

      I think there’s a difference between growing out of occasional, sporradic pot use and drinking that your partner doesn’t have an active problem with (both my husband and I did), and hoping that your spouse will ‘grow out of’ an addictive behavior that you find actively problematic. It can happen, sure, but it probably isn’t wise to make future decisions based on the hope that a partner will change behavor that they’ve indicated that they don’t want to change. (Similarly: getting married while hoping your spouse will change their mind about wanting children would be a bad idea, even if it might happen…)

      • Liz

        Yes. But I think there are those who wouldn’t find the LW’s partner’s actions to necessarily indicate addictive behavior.

        • Roselyne

          Oh, sure. But I think most people can agree that there’s a difference between ‘I have an issue with him occasionally driving too fast and he’s not willing to stop’ and ‘I have an issue with him taking cocaine and he’s not willing to stop’. Both are (potentially) dangerous behaviors with legal implications and implications on others, but one is likelier to be easier to stop.

          (Side-note, though: people recommending addiction counselling for sporradic drug use drive me nuts for EXACTLY this reason. If it’s not an addiction, you can’t treat an addiction!)

          • jubeee

            Addiction treatment (traditional rehab) is only slightly successful for actual addicts. Occasional, recreational users aren’t “addicts” so seeking those treatments seems like a real waste of resources.

      • kcaudad

        I think it’s a matter of if she is willing to still continue the relationship if his (presumably occasional) drug use doesn’t stop! What if he is currently using some type of drug once a month and he continue on that pace for the rest of their relationship/his life. Is she okay with that? How long do you hold out on him ‘growing out of it’? I would challenge someone, as Liz does, to not assume that she can change someone or that he will want to change in the future.

    • AP

      This is sort of how I ended up like a frog in boiling water. During college and immediately after, my ex was able to justify his drug use with “all my friends do it, Bonnaroo, etc.” I was kind of the odd one out who wasn’t into it. But then slowly, over time, our friends were growing out of it and becoming responsible adults and one day I realized that my ex was the only one still doing that shit and he had just moved on to a new group of (sketchier, scarier) people who still did it too.

    • z

      Even if it isn’t forever, using hard drugs temporarily has consequences. For example, is his spending on drugs going to stop you from being able to buy a house or becoming parents when you want to?

      • Lauren from NH

        I appreciate that drugs, especially hard drugs, can do huge damage to marriages and families, but my interpretation is that the LW is in a serious but not yet near engagement type of relationship. She makes no mention of marriage or houses or kids and only lightly touches on financial liability and it doesn’t seem to think it will fall directly on her. It seems in some places the extreme impact of drugs in general is getting phrased as directly applying to the LW’s current situation, which doesn’t match up to me.

        • z

          Well sure, but lots of people buy houses or have kids, or blend finances somewhat, without getting married. Or they could have an unplanned pregnancy. But there are also lots of consequences that could come up just in a dating relationship. How fun is it to have dealers or cops at your door in the night? To be evicted? Or what if he borrows her car and gets in trouble and it’s seized as evidence? Maybe having to testify in court (since spousal immunity doesn’t apply to girlfriends). I can make up lots of just-dating scenarios that definitely pose a risk to her, financial or otherwise.

          LW can take whatever comments seem most relevant and leave the rest, but this is a marriage-centered blog and I think it’s important that these issues be discussed. She didn’t write to A Practical Casual Dating Relationship.

        • AP

          That’s what’s tough about this letter. It’s not too clear how serious they are and how serious his drug use is, and what they see for the future of the relationship. There’s a huge range of discussion to be had here.

      • non

        this just seems like a big (and maybe kind of unnecessary) leap to me. I’m in my thirties, I used to do many of these substances on the regular (not meth) and still participate, I own a house, I have a terminal degree and a great job, etc.

        so while, YES, I absolutely agree that if this is a deal breaker for the LW, it is a deal breaker (and I do not think that it is a good sign that he lied to her initially), I’m surprised to see so many people taking from this letter that the partner is going to prove himself unfit to live an adult live/become a heroin addict/whatever. to me, it sounds like drugs are not the problem here as much as potentially incompatible world views.

        (also, sorry for piggybacking on your comment when I’m really addressing the trend of these comments in general)

        • z

          Well, lucky you, I guess. But I still think it’s a valid question to raise. If they are going to set financial goals together, where does the line item “Drugs” fit in the budget? But really, the house is just an example. I’m just trying to make the point that drug use can affect the LW over the longer term, even if he does eventually stop using drugs.

          • non

            I think it’d fit in a budget the same place that going out to dinner, or drinking, or going to a concert or vacation would. or, heck, buying slightly more expensive than necessary clothes.

            obviously, of course, people ruin their finances with drugs. and yes yes yes there can be long term consequences. I hope you didn’t think I was being nasty with my comment. I’m just surprised at the tendency in these comments to link, as AnneBonny says, “using drugs ever” into “high all the time.”

            and it’s not luck! you absolutely need to be smart and educated about these things. it’s not clear from the letter whether the partner is. but when you don’t do drugs it’s easy to assume that anyone that does drugs has no idea what they’re doing, and that’s not necessarily true.

          • anon for this

            I really appreciate you bringing this up, non.

            My partner is a regular pot user (we live in a place where it is legal), and occasionally he uses/has used other drugs recreationally (all of the above mentioned, minus meth).

            Like the LW, I was raised in a “drugs are illegal, end of story,” household and drank the DARE Kool-Aid in elementary school. When we met, my partner was upfront with me about his drug use and I was admittedly a bit shocked to realize that even with his use, he was a functioning member of society (holds a steady job, keeps to a budget, pays taxes, has friends, is selfless, etc.) and not an addict. Spending time with him changed my attitude on drugs (which was basically – you take drugs and you’ll become an addict ASAP).

            He smokes weed the way some people have a drink at the end of the day — to unwind. So he has a part of his budget he spends on marijuana the same way someone who likes a good cigar will budget for come Cubans or someone who wouldn’t want to go without their nightly bourbon will spend on that.

            While I don’t know what the LW’s boyfriend’s situation is, (and lest anyone think I’m living in some fairy world, I have experienced the consequences of addiction in my family and know what it looks like), it could be that he’s an addict in denial. But, I appreciate that someone else sees that recreational drug use is not necessarily a harbinger for soul-crushing, life-ruining addiction.

          • Anonymous

            My husband and I are regular recreational pot users, and we operate the same way your partner does: instead of a couple glasses of wine while watching Homeland on a Friday night, we smoke using our fancy vaporizer. We have a line item in our budget for “Intoxicants,” which covers both pot (we buy from our neighbor who’s permitted to grow it) and alcohol. We both have college degrees, great jobs, and we own a home. I don’t know how it works for people who use harder drugs, but most of our friends are in the same position as us (we’re in the Bay Area), and we all seem to be doing just fine.

  • z

    LW, are you and your boyfriend on the same page about risks in life generally? If he has a much higher risk tolerance than you do, not just for drugs but everything, that can be a major compatibility issue. It’s something we really struggle with in my own marriage even though there are no drugs involved whatsoever.

    Maybe this disagreement is just a message that you simply aren’t compatible as life partners.

  • z

    Also, what about your own extended family? It seems like your boyfriend’s reasoning is premised on the assumption that nothing bad will happen and nobody will ever find out. But what if something does happen? Are you prepared to deal with the fallout in your and his relationship with your parents and extended family?

  • MABie

    I think I am going to have an unpopular opinion here, but here goes. My sense of this is that LW might be approaching this in a way that is coming across as judgmental, and perhaps her partner is not responding well to her concerns because of that. I am wondering… if LW framed it as, “Here are the risks. Here’s why I’m scared,” rather than “this is illegal, and it’s not how I grew up,” her partner might be more receptive.

    LW had a very risk-averse upbringing. She said it was quite a shock to her that people smoked pot. Then, when LW and her partner got into an argument about drug use, he told her he hadn’t come clean with her because he was worried she wouldn’t approve. This section of the letter stood out to me, and this is where I think the rubber is hitting the road for LW’s partner: “My side is that it’s illegal. I don’t fully understand the health risks.”

    LW’s partner might feel judged — and maybe even attacked — for something that he doesn’t see as a good-enough reason (illegality) not to spend time with his friends doing recreational drugs once in a while.

    LW is 100% within her rights to ask him not to do these drugs. Meth is really fucking dangerous. It destroys people. I just think he might be digging his heels in because he doesn’t get what she’s saying. I can think of exactly zero times in my four-year relationship when I have felt that the justification “because that’s how I grew up” was a good-enough reason for either of us to do anything without examining what’s underneath of that.

    I’m NOT saying it’s okay that he’s dismissing her concerns. IT’S TOTALLY NOT. I’m just saying that maybe there is another way to communicate about this topic that will allow this couple to move forward and be together in the long run, which they both seem to want.

    • AP

      Sure. I mean, couple’s counseling could help them communicate better without judgement and resentment. It’s worth exploring.

    • AnneBonny

      I completely agree. I was very surprised that LW is coming primarily off the illegality—especially since marijuana decriminalization has become such a prominent social justice issue. LW’s also lumping together a lot of very different drugs that I know I would have very different feelings about—his school did meth, but did he?

      LW should definitely educate hirself on the specific drugs in question.

      • Violet

        People are allowed to have a strict stance on following the law, though. It would just then be easier if they partnered with someone else who did, too.

        • Eenie

          It’s also ok to have a strict stance if it’s legal. Alcohol and tobacco are both legal but I’d respect anyone who told me those were deal breakers for them. I’d argue that although the legality issue is a good one, but it can also just be that she doesn’t want to date someone who participates in those things. So I agree with not focusing on the legality of it all and talking more about why she personally wants to die on this hill (metaphorically).

          • Not Sarah

            Yup, significant alcohol consumption is a dealbreaker to me and I define that as having more than one drink in the course of an evening more than once a month. I understand that everyone is welcome to drink as much as they want and that’s their choice, but I personally cannot be in a serious relationship with someone who drinks more than I am comfortable with.

        • AnneBonny

          People are certainly allowed to, but LW also presumably wants to maintain this relationship, so perhaps zhe should figure out whether the legality is truly the issue.

          • Violet

            Sure. I mean, she signs off as “Anti-Drug Girlfriend,” which is pretty strong. Even if it’s not the legality, I really have not personally encountered someone who was “anti drug,” researched drugs, and then said, “Oh yeah, fine by me.” It could happen, but it seems unlikely. Someone can both want to maintain a relationship and realize that they just cannot.

        • jubeee

          Totally agree. This seems to me a real values/needs question and the LW is partnered with someone who doesn’t share her values/isn’t fulfilling her needs. Its ok for her to expect this but she probably isn’t going to get it from this boyfriend.

      • Mrrpaderp

        It’s not just illegality though; it’s the consequences of doing something illegal. If you get caught, you go to jail. You lose your job. You have a criminal record for the rest of your life. Even if you think the risk of getting caught is slight, it’s OK to take the position that, I don’t care how slight the risk, it’s not worth it.

        Personal example – No one in my home is permitted to illegally download/stream ANYTHING. The risk of actually being prosecuted is pretty slight, but the consequences to my career (attorney) are SO HUGE that it’s just not worth it. Maybe it would seem silly to end a relationship because the guy wanted to download a song or two occasionally, but to me, it’s “I don’t care about you and your comfort enough to refrain from doing this recreational thing that could have life-changing consequences for both of us.” That attitude right there – my fun is more important than your needs – is BS, my friends.

        • lady brett

          yes, yes, and your position in relation to the law is a huge part of how severe the consequences are. are you in a position of privilege that makes it less likely you will get in legal trouble? are you in a line of work where legal trouble will get you fired? are you in a social community where legal trouble will cause you to be ostracized?

          for me, *any* association with illegal drugs (and most other illegal activity) would cause me to lose my kids (immediately, not as a slight, long-shot possibility) – i absolutely can’t risk it, and my opinions on the issues don’t matter to that.

        • Liz

          Yeah, finding the legality important doesn’t necessarily mean you co-sign that drugs should be illegal. There are just inherently more risks as a result of that illegality- including getting a lethally bad batch of something because it’s unregulated.

        • AnneBonny

          Yeah but let’s say in five years one of the drugs in question is legalized. Will LW be okay with it then? If not, the issue isn’t really the legal status—so she should focus on what the issue actually is.

          • Mrrpaderp

            I agree with your point with respect to her discomfort with pot. And with that, yes, LW should examine her motives. But I guess I don’t see meth or coke getting legalized anytime soon, and that seems to be the biggest part of her concern.

            FWIW, I DO think it’s a little strange to say, “I worry about your health!” and at the same time admit “But I don’t know anything about the health risks!” It’s like objecting to skydiving just because it’s skydiving, without doing any research at all.

          • Violet

            Well, to be fair, practically EVERYTHING is riskier than not doing that thing. It’s riskier to eat a cherry than not, because you might choke on the pit and die. It’s not a convincing argument of course, but nobody needs to do a research study to tell me skydiving is riskier than… not skydiving.

        • tr

          Honestly, the crucial issue here is risk aversion…and that’s a huge thing in and of itself, with major consequences for every aspect of your relationship!
          I’ve had friends who are extremely risk averse (which it sounds like you and LW both are). I’ve also had friends who, in my opinion, are out of their ever loving minds with the risks they take. Neither thing is inherently bad (several of my very risk taking friends are very successful because of it), but it’s important for two people to be on the same page. A person who wants to illegally download movies/use illicit drugs/put money into risky investments/take up base jumping may be a great person and a great partner for a fellow risk taker, but if you like to stick to sensible 401k plans and knitting, you will both make each other miserable!

  • Nell

    So, if your coworkers and friends and partner are all smoking pot, and you’re just not into it. . . why are you still hanging around all these people? Recreational drug use actually isn’t the norm in all social circles. There are people out there who are fun and interesting and don’t need to smoke up all the time.

    • AnneBonny

      People on this thread who are anti-drug seem to be turning “using drugs ever” into “high all the time.” I get that you don’t smoke pot, but it’s not a binary of Never Smokes vs. Total Stoner.

      • Violet

        For however much he’s doing it, it’s gone into “it bothers her” territory, which is the situation that matters to me, here.

        • AnneBonny

          Then people should discuss THAT, rather than sneering at people who “need to smoke up all the time.” Such people are not mentioned anywhere in this letter, so let’s not derail the discussion.

          • Eenie

            I don’t think pot is even one of the things that is bothering the LW. It’s the other stuff. Which is why people are talking about the other stuff. In my book you either do drugs or you don’t. It’s binary for me because I choose not to participate in that lifestyle. That’s not to say there isn’t some differences between occasional and habitual, but I don’t really care to make the distinction because that wouldn’t affect my decision in pursuing a friendship or relationship with you.

          • AnneBonny

            I agree; the original comment was not responding to LW’s issue. Thank you for acknowledging that you object to only occasional use, rather than twisting occasional use into constant use.

      • Caroline

        No, it’s not. But that he concealed drug use for two years because he knew she wouldn’t approve is, to me, a MAJOR red flag of addictive/destructive behaviors. You’re right, I do know a few people who smoke recreationally, and still are fine, and healthy with normal lives. But evasion about drug use is a pretty big red flag.

        Rereading, it does sound like she believes he wasn’t using hard drugs since the conversations about it so maybe my concern is misplaced.

      • Nell

        You’re right. But, I’ve also been in social groups where smoking pot was THE activity, and it just gets boring. But I think when I was younger, I thought that I must be wrong for being so bored. Now I just. . . do something else.

        • AnneBonny

          Well you can reject the activity without degrading the people who enjoy it.

          • Violet

            I don’t think you’re wrong about that. Personally as someone who chose not to engage in drugs or alcohol in high school, I got plenty of denigration from people who did, saying I was the one with the problem. So I’m not saying denigration is okay (and I hope I’ve been respectful in these comments), but statements like Nell’s often come from a place of having been judged by those people, and taking kind of a defensive stance. Maybe that’s not her case, but I think in these discussions both sides feel pretty judged by people who make different choices. So basically, yeah, I know how you’re feeling, but from the other side. It sucks.

          • AnneBonny

            I think you’re assuming I do drugs regularly; I do not.

          • Violet

            You’re right. I have no idea how you’re feeling.

  • anon

    So, I can relate to both sides of this. I had a recreational drug use period of my life, which wound down as I was getting serious with my now-husband. While not totally caused by our relationship, he had an impact on my decreased usage (and ultimately stopping) in a few ways – 1) he didn’t do drugs (other than alcohol), and so he didn’t get excited about it with me, 2) we started doing hobbies that required us to be active and clear headed (hobbies that I loved but were new to me), and doing these activities frequently, 3) he helped me focus on my career because he was focused on his, which led to me wanting to have my shit together, and 4) he encouraged me to go to counseling for some of my co-occuring mental health issues, which greatly reduced my desire to escape my life via drugs. So, to the LW, I wanted to suggest that if this IS a maturing thing/mental health thing/lack of alternative hobbies thing, she might be a positive force in his life in some of those ways.

    However, I have also suffered in a previous relationship because of a partner’s addiction. And addiction is serious shit. And you CAN be addicted to marijuana, so while the deeper concern may be the possible use and future addiction to harder drugs, let’s just consider that your partner may be addicted already. And addicts tend to be, as many other comments here show, dismissive of their addiction until shit goes wrong. In their life. To them, or the people they love. So yeah, he’s putting you both at risk, especially if his drug use escalates, and that is a signal of addiction.

    Last, but definitely not least, I say couples counseling is a critical next step. You all need to figure out a way through this. I would love to say that if he’s better armed with the facts (please, please ask him to read this post and the comments, and other resources), he will shift his thinking. But regardless of that outcome, this is a joint situation that you don’t know how to get through intact. Enter: Counseling.

    And in the end, I just want to send hugs. Hugs of support, solidarity, and hope that you and he can find your way through and live the awesome, healthy, love-filled lives that you’ve always dreamed of.

    • BDubs

      THIS

  • Emily

    I think the most crucial part of this is the fact that it is illegal, and the consequences are severe. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes, and I’m certainly not someone that hasn’t done my share of dumb stuff in college etc. But routine drug use as an employed adult? In a place where it’s illegal?? (Ie if you live in Colorado, smoke pot all you want) this does not qualify as a hobby in my book any more than routinely participating in grand theft auto would.

    Also I grew up far from the border states but now I live in Texas, and the effects of the drug trade are more real here. Every time you purchase from a drug dealer you are supporting a system of people who leave a trail of headless bodies behind them and participate in human trafficking.

    • DARE

      I think there are a bunch of caveats to what you’re saying. The legal consequences for drug possession vary wildly from state to state (and depending on amount, your history, etc.), that I don’t think it’s fair to label them all as “severe.” Also, I personally am not moved by the “it’s illegal” argument. SO MANY THINGS are or have been illegal or aren’t illegal but are very dangerous (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) that I don’t feel that I need to count on the legislature to help me figure out what’s a good choice. If you’re talking about it from just an “it’s illegal, therefore you could get in trouble” argument, not a moral one, I can understand that to some extent.

      Also, while your comment about the drug trade and cartels is very real, sad, and terrifying, again, this is not the case for many, many people, even in places where marijuana is “illegal.” For example, in CA, if you have a medical marijuana card, you can be permitted to also grow up to 100 plants (!!) on your property.

      • Emily

        My argument was meant much more from a legal / employment perspective than from me a moral perspective – I dont think there is anything immoral about doing drugs (how they are produced / the cartels are a problem). I am in energy work wise, where anyone can get drug tested at any time (office and field employees) and testing positive means immediate termination without a doctors note. Heck, I get written up / talked to if I dont back park my car / have a lid on my hot coffee because “this is a culture of safety first.”

        I appreciate hearing your perspective – and I agree that there are laws that maybe shouldn’t be there – but I guess the question is even if the law is silly, would you rather campaign / vote for those who will change it or break it and then try to find a job having been charged / convicted of a felony.

  • pajamafishadventures

    The main objection raised by the LW seems to be “it’s illegal!” and I think they need to drop that argument. Not because it’s wrong or in any way not a Good Point but because it’s not one he’s responding to. He already knows it’s illegal. Presumably he is intelligent enough to have known it was illegal before you came along and told him! But if he’s in a circle where recreational drug use is the norm, and I would say especially if he comes from an affluent background, then he doesn’t care about the legality.

    You need to decide if this is a dealbreaker in the relationship to you (and in my opinion it should be). Research the health risks, research what is done to people in the name of getting these drugs to people, research what families of hard drug users have to say on the subject. Have a conversation where you present those concerns and ultimately be prepared to end the relationship if you think this isn’t an issue you see eye to eye on. It will be sad- it’s always sad to end something you thought was going so well- but it’s actually not going well and it gives both of you the opportunity to find someone you have better compatibility with.

    • Violet

      You’ve got a good point. LW could also interpret it as, “Legality is important to me. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t value following the law like I do,” and end things without researching health consequences. LW doesn’t have to convince him, she just has to do what’s right for herself.

      • Sarah E

        Agreed. I think the legality is certainly important. Not to say all laws are good, but you enter an entirely different tier of consequences when you violate them. And like you say, if the LW thinks it’s important, that’s valid, and that importance needs to be compared to the importance of her relationship.

      • pajamafishadventures

        Yes, that is an excellent point.

      • kcaudad

        That’s my main issue as well. It’s illegal! Full stop. End of discussion. This is (and was previously) a deal breaker to me. At one point, I had to leave a relationship because he refused to quit smoking pot – I was a teacher and my job could have been in jeopardy if he got caught and/or there were drugs found in my house. I don’t do drugs, I don’t want drugs in my house, I don’t want to be with someone who is willing to do drugs ‘occasionally’ despite my feelings. Cocaine and Meth are drugs that will mess up your life and are very addictive. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to see if this is really a person who you really want to be with long term and what you could be giving up or compromising of yourself and your values. Are you willing to be with someone who’s addicted to drugs (this happened to a friend of mine who thought her husband quit, but ended up using around her young son), are you willing to be with someone who is in jail for drugs or has drug charges on his record? Are you willing to help pay for the ‘fines’ if he gets caught again? Are you willing to see this through to it’s eventual (possibly terrible) end? etc. etc. etc.

  • AnneBonny

    How often are we talking? I mean, I’ve done ecstasy twice in my life. The second time was 6 years ago. But if my partner told me, “I want you never to do ecstasy again,” I would definitely bristle at that.

    Especially if his explanation were, “I haven’t researched it at all, but it’s illegal!”

  • willow

    I feel like I am missing something. I read the letter and assumed that the LW and her partner are mostly having a philosophical disagreement. She says that two years ago they agreed he would only use pot, and “he has kept his word on this.” Everyone in the comments seems to be assuming that he is using harder drugs again behind her back. I think it’s problematic for their relationship if LW still feels weird about him using pot, even if she agreed to it at one point, but I think there’s a world of difference between that and her partner using other drugs behind her back.

    • Violet

      I think the issue has come up despite their “pot-only” agreement, because at least one of them is not truly happy with the compromise they struck a few years ago. It’s niggling away at someone or both of them. Which means, this is not resolved.

      • willow

        Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s certainly not resolved. But the solutions to their problem are very different if the situation is “we agreed you would only smoke pot, but you do harder drugs anyway” vs. “i am no longer comfortable with you smoking pot.” I think a lot of the advice in the comments is not very helpful for situation #2, and it sounds to me, based on the letter, that situation #2 is more likely what’s going on.

        • lady brett

          it read to me like the issue was him not being comfortable with the agreement and wanting to revisit and use hard drugs again (which is still a lot different than the first situation, but also it didn’t read to me like she has a (big) problem with pot).

          • Laura C

            Whereas it read to me like she was uncomfortable with pot and wanted to revisit on those grounds. Damn you, textual ambiguities!

          • Eenie

            Yeah, I interpreted it as him saying outright he wanted to, or making her feel like a bad person for being the one that’s preventing her from doing it. Or him constantly revisiting the subject to see if her stance had changed. For number 2 I think there’s a lot of good advice in the comments (in addition to Liz’s).

        • MABie

          Yeah, after re-reading the letter, it’s not completely clear what behavior she wants to prohibit. She says he has kept his word about not using hard drugs, but then she says, “Essentially, I just don’t want him to want to take them anymore, which isn’t the case.” I think she is saying that she doesn’t even want him to smoke pot any more, but it’s certainly hard to tell. Asking him not to smoke pot anymore is a different conversation.

          • z

            I think if it were just the pot, she would have said “it” rather than “them”. I read it as needing to settle on a long-term agreement that makes them both comfortable. Maybe the “no hard drugs” agreement wasn’t intended to be a permanent deal when it was entered into?

    • K

      I think people are responding to the fact that he has already lied about drug use in the past. Fair in their circumstance or not, that’s a very common addiction red flag.

    • Liz

      I unfortunately had to chop this letter quite a bit, so let me clarify: she thought the hard drugs issue was resolved, but he thought it was a “let’s come back to this later” arrangement and has started to discuss with friends using them again, bringing it all back to the forefront. I’m sorry if I chopped a question in a way that made that unclear.

  • Emily

    Like many people on this thread, I have had a lot of experience with addicts in my life. For me LW’s partner lying is a huge red flag and his use of meth and cocaine is another huge red flag. Unlike many people on this thread, I think it is possible to safely use many hallucinogens, MDMA, and pot without developing a habit. There is some accepted risk involved, but I would put it on the level of say white water rafting. Personally, I am a risk averse person and with my family history, I think it is wise to not experiment much with drugs. However, meth and cocaine are highly addictive. The world is filled with people who claim to “dabble” with speed and opiates, but I think a lot of those people are floating on a river called da nile. Having lived with addicts,

    I would recommend that LW do some serious snooping into her partners use of uppers, and if she were to discover that he is abusing uppers i would recommend talking to a counselor and/or attending ALANON meetings. Addiction is a disease, but it is a counterintuitive disease. Most people who try to deal with the addicts in their lives alone and without understanding addiction will only end up hurting themselves. If my mother had diabetes or cancer, I would do everything in my power to help her manage her life, but my mom is an addict not a diabetic, and she has rejected treatment, so if I were to go to her house and fold her laundry or pack her lunches it would be enabling not care taking. I cannot understate how counterintuitive that is for me and for many others.

  • jubeee

    I think everyone has the right to present what they need/won’t tolerate in a relationship when discussing the future. I think if casual drug use is a deal breaker for the LW and her boyfriend is a casual drug user she needs to present it at just that. If she is prepared to walk away because she won’t tolerate it, she should give her boyfriend the chance to make his decision. But the idea that you can control someone else’s actions is an idea that the LW needs to get out of her mind.

  • anon

    I really admire the restraint in Liz’s response and in the advice many other commenters are giving here, because this post has my stomach tied up in knots and I’m resisting the urge to recommend that the LW should end the relationship now. I spent 4 years in a relationship with a recreational drug user, and my story sounds much like the LW’s story. In the beginning, I thought that drugs were in his past, and it wasn’t until we were already a pretty established couple that I learned he had never really stopped at all. It’s the sneaking around behind her back that has me most concerned for the LW’s situation, and since it’s still an issue two years later, I can only assume that he’s either still lying to her about his drug use or she suspects him of lying to her (which, for the record, is equally destructive to a relationship. The suspicion enough is a problem; you don’t need to be proven right before you can do anything about it.).

    My own experience has left me with a very real sense of just how many problems drug use can cause. The LW’s partner is absolutely putting her at risk by continuing to use drugs, and she is right to be concerned about those risks. Trying to convince her that she is being judgmental or just not cool is a form of manipulation. Obviously, I’m reading my own experience into this, and it’s entirely possible that the LW’s situation is not so dire at the moment. But at the end of the day, if she’s not comfortable with his drug use, then it’s not her responsibility to get comfortable with it. And it’s also not reasonable to expect that he will change his mind or grow out of it. I think Liz’s advice is spot on here: you have to decide whether you can live with the current situation forever. My guess is that the LW would not want to do that, in which case, I think it’s time to move on.

    • anon from below

      Ah. Huge point: “it’s not her responsibility to get comfortable with it.” Thank you for saying this. It reminded me how one huge selling point my now husband offered (vs. my previous partner) was that he valued making sure that he knew what things I wasn’t comfortable with regarding drugs, drinking, sex, and other ladies (he’s straight), and honored them accordingly. I do the same for him. Of course, comfortable is in the eye of the beholder… but it made a huge difference in me feeling safe with him that he took my wishes on those things into account.

  • Juliet

    You can’t change his mind about how he feels about this subject, because that’s not how people work. But people make compromises and sacrifices all the time for loved ones even when their opinions about something never changes. You say you guys spoke about this two years ago and he agreed to stop using all but weed and he has kept his word on that, so then from my perspective, LW, you are the one that needs to let this go if you want to stay in this relationship. It is completely valid for you to decide this philosophical disagreement is a deal breaker for you (people do it all the time regarding religion, child rearing, feminism, etc.,) so make that decision- counseling could help you get there. But if he’s agreed to do everything he can actually physically control regarding the subject since that’s what would or could actually impact you, I think it’s worth putting this in that “agree to disagree” column we all have in relationships.

    *Just wanted to say: A great big thank you to all of the commenters who have shared their experiences with addiction. I think it is an important conversation and while it is certainly applicable to the topic of this letter, I’m addressing this from the perspective that LW’s partner has not used any hard drugs for two years since he agreed not to, as LW says in the letter, because if that is the case we are not talking about addiction, but a philosophical difference.

  • I’m going to chime in as a devil’s advocate here. To me this girl came from a judgemental, risk averse background and is attempting to get more knowledge to understand if what’s been taught to her about drugs is…fact or marketing. Let’s be real, drugs have a bad rep.

    But let’s not keep conflating all the issues: illegal doesn’t mean bad, and occasional user does not mean addict. Lots of things have been illegal (including alcohol, men wearing women’s clothes, etc) but that didn’t make them BAD. I chained myself to a coal plant and it was very illegal. If the most destructive things were made illegal first, guns would have been gone eons ago.

    Also, I know plenty of people who’ve casually experimented herbs and drugs as ways to expand certain understandings or experiences or self-medicated. MDMA is now being researched as a way to help with PTSD and Acid has been studied to treat depression.

    This is all to say: when you approach the situation with extreme understandings, I’m offended on behalf of the partner. Sure, you don’t want a partner who does illegal things. What if him and his buddies went to amsterdam to do mushrooms? You can buy them at a store there. Or they could head to cali to a festival and smoke all they want. Or head to central america for a hallucinogenic tribal ritual. If illegality became a non-issue in his use, would you still be mad? If it wasn’t something that happened in your space, and he never came home under the influence?

    And on that note: addiction sucks. Every single male relative I have, on both sides of my family, is either an active addict, actively sober, or dead. I also dated someone for 2 years before realizing it was the hard drug dependencies that were why I was crying every night.

    However, he never tried to ask me to talk about it. He never gave up for a while in good faith. He certainly never waited till I relented to partake in anything.

    Which means, there’s a strong possibility this partner really cares about LW, but doesn’t want to give up something they find important in their lives. Lots of people have scary hobbies (extreme mountain climbing, bungee jumping, whatever) and if LW isn’t interested in dating someone who ISN’T risk averse, fine. But saying “Drugs are bad and you need help” is very different than “Consuming those substances aside, I’m concerned I don’t want to grow more serious with someone conducting illegal activities.” Then you’re actually having a dialoge where people can meet in the middle…while holding firm to personal boundaries.

    • jubeee

      Thank you. I think we can be understanding of the LW perspective while not shaming people who used/have used/are addicted to various substances. Using drugs/alcohol casually or becoming addicted to them is not a measure of your worthiness as a human.

    • Amanda

      i agree with a lot of this. for me, something being legal or illegal isn’t really a great argument. part of growing up is about learning to develop our moral and ethical guidepost. we’re called to determine if our laws are just, not determine what’s just based on the law. read: there are a lot of terrible laws on the books.

      i’m also of the school of thought that drug use doesn’t make you a “bad person,” but also that it doesn’t cultivate virtues either. addiction is real, scary, dangerous, and unhealthy, whether to a legal substance like alcohol or illegal cocaine. i’ve seen a number of marriages and lives fall apart because of cocaine, especially–divorces, lost jobs, hair loss, overdoses, and death. it puts others around you at risk, and the myopia-side effect numbs our neuropathways that help us feel more deeply about others. the best course, for me, is to determine the empathy points. to really get the appeal for your partner–beyond hey, it’s fun i guess (a lot of things are fun). for your partner to really get how you feel affected by drug use. you’ll learn a lot from those points, and know the different values about how to move on from there. i think it would be difficult to take the next step without coming to a place of deep understanding in the first place.

      • This is the issue. There’s lots of healing elements to drug use (WAY BEYOND hey it’s fun I guess) but we don’t hear about that.

        This conflation of use and addiction feels a bit… taught. There’s sex addiction, sugar addiction, coffee addiction, alcohol addiction… all these things can lead to losing loved ones (sex, alcohol), and damaging our body (sugar, coffee, alcohol). Because yes, addiction is terrifying and stronger than we’d like. But I’ve yet to see anyone comment that they wouldn’t date anyone because they were social drinkers… who might one day become addicts. You wouldn’t jump to that point.

        PS: For reference about a few healing uses… http://www.livescience.com/41277-health-benefits-illegal-drugs.html

        • yepyepyep

          “But I’ve yet to see anyone comment that they wouldn’t date anyone because they were social drinkers… who might one day become addicts. You wouldn’t jump to that point.”

          Yes! There is a hypocrisy to how we treat alcohol vs. marijuana in this instance (I’m not well-educated enough on harder drugs to comment on those).

          • Liz

            I do personally know someone who doesn’t drink or want alcohol in his house (presumably would date but wouldn’t marry someone who did) because of the way his life has been impacted by folks around him who were addicts. I agree that it may be a reach to say “someone who uses this will become an addict!” but I think someone can still decide, “I don’t even want to be around that,” without it meaning judgment etc.

          • yepyepyep

            Of course! If you don’t want to be around substances, that is a viable and healthy life choice and it can be done without judgment towards anyone who makes a different choice.

            It’s the hypocrisy of how Western/American society (because I can’t speak for views outside that realm) treats social drinkers vs. social pot users that irks me when either one can have devastating consequences, or not.

        • Amanda

          we don’t ask questions when we think about the healing powers of regulated substances–any of us who’ve endured surgery feel pretty grateful for the oxy (or had a beer after a hard day at work), but any of us who’ve dealt with someone addicted to painkillers (and alcohol) knows the hell of that too. that hell is real, and it puts others at risk–legal, illegal, regulated, contraband. i mean, i’m of the school of thought that drugs should be legalized and heavily regulated, because i don’t see the demand going away with criminalization, nor do i see the devastating violence associated with cartels & drug trafficking & “the new jim crow” going away either. that’s why i think knowing the *why* for both of you is important. i have many friends who were raised by alcoholics, don’t drink themselves, and wouldn’t date anyone who is even a casual drinker from that very real trauma. i also know a couple who divorced over a growing operation one partner set up in their basement, which is very different from the occasional toke, as it were. all of these things are on a sliding scale.

      • Eenie

        In response to your first paragraph, I think I’m the exact opposite. I think my first stop is legality and the consequences (speeding, jaywalking, carrying insurance, drugs, stealing) and if the consequences are acceptable I move on to a deeper thought on ethics and morality. Honestly though a lot of stuff doesn’t get past the legal consequences. I agree that some of the laws are terrible, but you can work to change laws without breaking them. That just isn’t ok when I do my risk/benefit analysis on life.

        • Amanda

          Actually, I think that’s a vital semantic difference. Jaywalking and speeding is wrong because it puts people in danger, not because you could get a ticket. Stealing is wrong because it actively hurts others. Drugs are tied into a lot of harmful consequences, both inherently and legally. And some of the terrible consequences are because they’re illegal & create systems in which even more violent behavior thrives, so we talk about changing the law. it’s explicitly our civic duty to question our laws first, and respond with civil disobedience if necessary. I’m not saying doing illegal drugs is civil disobedience in all circumstances, but Native Americans did use drugs in religious rituals as civil disobedience that led to the supreme court ruling & congress changing the law in the early 90s. There are a lot of unsavory examples in history about how following the law is a really unethical things to do (interracial marriage being an obvious one–because too many people following that law & fearing social stigma has lasting consequences to this day), and breaking it is often the first step before laws will change. Writing letters to one’s congressmen isn’t always enough. For our legal system to work, we must hold my politicians accountable with a moral code beyond what passed a simple majority.

          • Eenie

            I think you misunderstood my comment. You can break the law to change it in a constructive way, but that’s not the only way. Not everyone has to do that for it to be effective. Sometimes you just have to put yourself above the collective good for various reasons. My last sentence was referring to the drugs in particular, which was confusing. I owe a lot of change that I benefit from to these law breaking people, but personally the risk and worry would weigh on me too much in most circumstances. There’s a lot of good to be done in the world without having to break laws. I personally try to maximize that avenue.

    • A

      Illegal drugs directly fund Mexican drug cartels. Legality and regulation very much matters in that area and means “bad” to me.

      • *Some* illegal drugs. Others are grown by people I happen to know, the care of which pays wages to other friends who are in need, and then is distributed by folks who find the supplemental income important.

        Nobody on this thread is going to defend drug cartels. People die from drug cartels, yes. And people die from sweatshop labor and migrant labor and nomadic land being captured for farming. If we’re going to play that card: is everything else we eat, wear, and buy so much more noble? Did we not take america through blood, war, and mass killings. Not trying to “take it there” (because, the califlour I’m eating right now is NOT organic or local, and the leggings I’m wearing were surely not made by happy hands) but it’s amazing how if you start to analyse a comment, the holes show.

        I’m not really sure of all the links, but also pretty sure that the high price of drugs (caused partially by illegality) makes them so much more attractive to organize crime. Think about it: Where did all the bootleggers go when alcohol became legal? They were out a job, that’s what.

        • A

          Actually it’s estimated that about 90% of illegal drugs in the U.S. have a connection to Mexican cartels. Saying “some” with emphasis very misleading. And I agree with you on most of your points and support the legalization and regulation of most if not all drugs for those reasons. Just pointing out that there are real reasons not to discount legality (and subsequent deregulation) as something irrelevant to the conversation.

          • I’ve only heard that fact about cocaine, around 5-8 years ago! Would be curious about the others. Acid and designer drugs are made in a lab, mushrooms and weed are grown in the PNW… so, again, curious about your sources. I like information.
            (Can’t you tell?)

          • A

            From 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/02/26/where-7-mexican-drug-cartels-are-active-within-the-u-s/

            What was likely exaggerated was the number of cities they were directly operating in, not the distribution (http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/mexican-drug-cartel-activity-in-us-said-to-be-exaggerated-in-widely-cited-federal-report/2013/08/25/680c1854-f54a-11e2-a2f1-a7acf9bd5d3a_story.html)

            Marijuana was actually where about 60% of their revenue came from and that’s why legalization is HUGE for fighting this (though until all drugs are regulated in the US, it won’t stop the drug war) It’s still high margins for them, but rapidly diminishing (http://dailycaller.com/2015/02/09/legal-marijuana-drug-cartels/)

          • A

            I will concede on LSD and shrooms of course – they have nothing to do with cartels (though also make up a fairly small percentage of illicit drugs). MDMA is the fastest growing area for most cartels, though, partially in response to weed legalization (but mostly demand). But the idea that most marijuana is grown by hippies in the PNW is actually one of the cartels favorite marketing tricks–the less people associate their favorite drug with them, the better for sales. But the reality is still that most marijuana sold in the U.S. is cartel based in some way or another.

            (And my very strong feelings on this matter and most of my source? Close family member who is a cartel prosecutor. Her stories will make anyone cower. Breaking Bad only scratched the surface of their atrocities. Though we differ on whether drugs should be legal – she takes a very strong “fuck no.” Except for marijuana which she says is common sense for saving many lives.)

          • Fascinating information (both in the articles and here). Thanks for sharing/clarifying your stance.

            Yeah, I think that since I have large community of folks who work in the american-grown weed business (in many capacities) I don’t always think about what…other americans… are partaking in. There’s a lot more to delve into on the topic (shop local drugs! Cartels vs. drug war, chicken or the egg? etc.) but I’m afraid it’s just a rabbit hole that’s beginning to stray far from the original question.

          • Anon now

            This actually reminds me of my baked goods policy: if I didn’t bake cookies or cake from scratch (or know who did) don’t eat it. If you don’t know who grew it, or the chemist personally, DONT DO IT. Ditto on the MDMA ethics point too–Vice did a great expose awhile back on the human cost. But there are chemists at Beth Isreal doing research on PTSD and MDMA and serious mental illness. When anyone gets really close to drugs, especially hard drugs, you see so much devastation that it’s easy to want it criminalize under all circumstances–especially when it’s 20somethings and children dying. I totally see why a prosecutor would say “Fuck No.” (I used to volunteer in jails and everything is drug related: if it’s theft, it’s drug related, if it’s a shooting, it’s drug related…) But criminalization just ain’t working either.

          • Lauren

            I would be very cautious of falling into the way of thinking that “if it’s US grown, it’s okay!” Mother Jones periodically runs pieces on the environmental impact of pot farming and it looks pretty devastating (not that California almonds or salads shipped east in the middle of winter are better, but nevertheless, marijuana farming has a big impact that shouldn’t be ignored!). Just one link to one of the newer articles they’ve published: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-pot-weed-statistics-climate-change

    • Eenie

      Yes to your last two paragraphs. But the possibility may still exist that there is no middle ground for one or both of them. Even when you take the illegality portion of it away, both partners have some solid reasoning for their beliefs and it’ll be hard to change.

      I’m also glad you gave the LW props for trying to understand better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean her stance will change. You can be risk adverse without being judgmental.

    • anon anon

      Your last point about risk-taking behaviors definitely resonates with me. When it comes to picking a partner, I take a pretty strong stance on hard drugs, for the same reasons I would not want to date someone who is an extreme adventurer, or a gun owner/carrier. Without judgment to those who engage in those things, because it’s certainly not a legal issue, and not necessarily a moral one. But for me personally, the risks far outweigh any rewards… and I don’t want to have to engage with those activities in any way, and angst about the risks when it comes to my partner.

      My heart goes out to LW… I’m sure she didn’t plan for herself to be in this situation, and it’s a tough issue to not be on the same page.

    • AP

      You’re right that lots of people have scary hobbies. My (new as of Saturday!) husband rides a motorcycle, for instance. It was a huge issue in his last relationship- his ex girlfriend insisted he sell it and was convinced there was no way to ride a motorcycle safely. As soon as they broke up, he bought a new one. When we began dating, I was scared of it, but I let him show me that he’s a safe and responsible rider (always wearing a helmet and protective jacket/boots/etc, driving defensively, mostly riding during the daytime.) I even ride with him now sometimes. I think it would have been a deal breaker for him if I had refused to keep an open mind about it right off the bat. But I also think that if I had kept an open mind, but still felt strongly against it after learning more about it, he would be willing to compromise in some way.

      I do think that if my ex had shown himself in a similar way to be a responsible and safe user of recreational drugs, we could have come to some kind of compromise. We had a pot-only compromise for many years (or so I thought.) I agree that’s a world away from active addiction, and something that I hope the LW and partner never have to experience.

      • Not Sarah

        Congratulations on your marriage!!

        • AP

          Thanks!!!!

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I agree a point. Illegal doesn’t mean BAD but illegal activity has the potential to bring all types of drama and unwanted serious consequences in your life and consequently, that of your partner. So the legality of something one’s partner is into is definitely a legit concern. And really, even if that’s the only issue one has, that’s enough. A simple arrest of drug possession (even of marijuana) can have drastic consequences in your family.

      • tr

        The thing is, that could be said of a lot of different things.
        Taking up motorcycles or sky diving or flying could bring all types of drama and unwanted serious consequences into your life.

        I’m not saying the letter writer is wrong, but I’m also not saying her boyfriend is wrong. The reality is, we all have different tolerances for risk. The letter writer is very risk averse. Most of the commenters on here seem to be very risk averse. That’s fine. However, there’s also nothing inherently wrong with riskier behavior.
        The key thing is, both parties have to be on the same page. Odds are, if he’s into recreational drug use, he’s a bit of a risk taker. For that reason, him and LW might not be a great fit…not because of the drug use in particular, but because of fundamental differences in how the regard and evaluate risk.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          My comment is about illegal behavior, not risky behavior (though illegal drug use can be both). Motorbikes and sky diving are risky but no one is going to jail.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I guess my original comment should have said unwanted consequences that are different (and potentially worse bc drugs and our sentencing schemes etc) from risky but LEGAL activities. That was really more of my point. That something drug activity that is illegal is plenty of justification to say stop it please.

  • Rachel

    This one’s tricky. It’s fine for your partner to have the attitude that these drugs are innocuous and recreational – except a couple of the particular drugs you’re mentioning really can’t rationally be written off that way. If we were talking about just weed, and a psychedelic like ‘shrooms here and there, I’d agree that this is simply a case of differing views with equally valid points, where you both need to discuss your comfort levels in more detail. But cocaine and meth? These are not mild, casual use kind of drugs. The risks of these kinds of drugs, legally, health-wise, addiction-wise, are not small.

    I live in Canada (and in a fairly liberal city, even by Canadian standards), where weed in particular is such a non-issue (despite still being not-quite-legal), that I actually know more people who smoke weed than I do who drink alcohol. In my entire (generally very law-abiding, not exceptionally edgy) social group, I can only think of two people who never smoke weed. Everyone else I know partakes at least occasionally. I’ve hung out in parks in Montreal where pretty much everyone was smoking, publicly, and walked down the street with friends who were smoking a joint or vaporizer in broad daylight and nobody batted an eyelash. However I had a friend who moved here from the US last year, and he was absolutely shocked by how casual and open people were about marijuana when he arrived. I didn’t realize prior to that how much that differed culturally between the two countries (there are obvious exceptions in certain liberal US cities, just like there are parts of Canada that are a bit more conservative about this sort of thing than I’m used to).

    I’m rambling a bit now, but my general point is: Yes, there are some drugs out there, that even though they’re illegal, I feel someone could genuinely make the argument that they’re low-risk and recreational, assuming they’re used responsibly and in moderation. Living an entirely risk-free life isn’t much fun, and some measured reasonable risks are an acceptable part of life, assuming both you and your partner can agree on a reasonable middle ground. But I really don’t feel like cocaine and meth fall into the ‘reasonable risk’ category for the average person. My husband’s best friend died from cocaine last year (heart attack), and he was heavily addicted to it. Meth is also highly addictive. Both drugs are pretty questionable in terms of the ethics behind their distribution and sourcing. I don’t think they can really be lumped into the same category as the occasional responsible use of weed or mild psychedelics. I think it’s valid for you to have serious concerns about your partner using these substances, and like Liz said, if he’s not interested in stopping, you may need to seriously consider whether you’re willing to put up with those risks.

    • notquitecece

      Yes. METH IS NOT A HOBBY FOLKS.

  • BDubs

    I hear you saying “I don’t like it and I don’t feel safe”. This is in itself reason enough to seriously re-evaluate your relationship. You say you don’t want him to want to do drugs anymore. So you basically want him to quit without you being involved. If that doesn’t interest him, you need to honor your heart and bail. This would be the same if it were any other major difference in comfort or belief system in your lives.

  • emilyg25

    It sounds like he doesn’t just use drugs, but he’s also lied about his drug use? So there’s not just the drug issue (not that it’s inherently wrong, just the disagreement part), but also some trust and honesty issues. I think you guys need to get thee to counseling, stat.

    • emilyg25

      Oh, another thing that I didn’t see mentioned is money. How is he paying for the drugs and what are your long-term financial goals? If you plan to combine finances, you’ll definitely want to discuss that.

  • Not Sarah

    To me, the biggest red flag here isn’t the drug use of the partner or lack thereof on the part of the LW. It’s the fact that he HID his drug use from her for multiple years because he knew she wouldn’t be okay with it. That wasn’t allowing her to make the decision on whether she was okay with it and now things are much more serious than they were before she found this out, making it a much bigger deal. She could have moved on much more easily had she known earlier that he was doing this.

    • Violet

      You’re not the only commenter to point this out, but I am amazed more didn’t acknowledge this, especially after most people last week were pretty firm with LW that she should not lie/hide important info just because she knew the reaction to the truth would be challenging. Same thing goes here, in my opinion. Even if he knew LW was going to judge him negatively, all the more reason he should have told her. Because frankly, it matters what she thinks about this; she’s in the relationship too. I have yet to find a situation in which lying/obfuscating about an *ongoing* situation made the relationship healthier. (Usual disclaimers for safety, same as last week; and I say ongoing because sometimes as far as the past is concerned, you can let sleeping dogs lie.)

      There are commenters defending his drug use. Why didn’t he? And let her either take those arguments or leave them (him)?

      • Eenie

        That was the first thing I pointed out. But also not really helpful to the LW now since we can’t go back in time. As some people have pointed out, he stopped and has been open about it and it looks like he gained back a lot of the trust that was lost from that omission. Everyone makes a poor decision at some point in their life, I think there’s something to be said about second chances (but not third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc).

        • Violet

          Good points, good points.

  • lady brett

    i don’t know a lot about the health effects of most drugs (unfortunately, because i feel like most of what we have been taught is propaganda – which doesn’t mean it *isn’t* true, it just means it isn’t *reliably* true).

    but i have done a lot of reading on the effects of pre-natal drug exposure and the results of actual science are *nothing* like the common wisdom about it. opiates, while nasty for infant withdrawals, have almost no notable long-term effects (unlike tobacco and alcohol, which can do extreme damage). i understand that pre-natal exposure has *nothing* to do with your question, but i thought the general knowledge that sometimes what we all “know” isn’t scientifically accurate might help with adjusting your frame and trying to find some studies about effects of recreational drug use (which hopefully exist?).

    also, based on my understanding, from the perspective of a straight-edge partner i would be especially concerned about meth because of the very strong possibility of secondhand exposure (by residues and excretion in sweat).

  • Jennifer

    Not sure if this is new perspective, as I haven’t made it all the way through the comments but I haven’t seen it yet so… What about the money? Are these two people sharing finances? Planning to in the future? Because these drugs are expensive to use, and the medical expenses that could result from long-term use are huge. It was the money that finally convinced my husband and my brother (separately) to stop smoking cigarettes.

  • Staria

    Sounds to me like drugs are approaching a dealbreaker for you. Your partner without drugs or your partner with drugs: which version would you take in a heartbeat? This is already causing you a huge amount of stress, trying to work out how to deal with HIS choices, HIS wants, over something that’s optional in life. HIS interest in putting drugs into his body is greater than his interest in being with you, otherwise he would have said openly. He’s telling you already he can’t/won’t change because you want him to. You are allowed to have a life and a partner where you don’t deal with that stress.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    This is one of those things that comes under the heading of “Dealbreakers” in relationships. There’s no compromise here. Either you can live with it and accept it or you can’t.

  • ADG

    Hello!

    I’m the original letter writer, and wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has weighed in with their input. My original letter was edited quite heavily (understandable – it was really long!) so I just wanted to clarify a few things.

    – This isn’t an addiction issue, although I want to hug everyone who has had to cope with any form of addiction in their lives, and thank you for sharing your stories as well. I have previously been in an emotionally abusive relationship (although not because of addiction), and had addiction been the case here, it would have been important to me to have heard those stories and weighed up that factor. I appreciate you all for pointing out that he could still be hiding things from me, or that there was potential for this to become a problem down the track. I’ve weighed these possibilities myself and we have discussed them, and I trust both him and my own assessment of where we are at.
    – The reason this has all come up again is that I thought our discussion over two years ago had been final, in that he would no longer use ‘harder’ drugs socially. He has kept to that agreement since then, but recently the topic was raised again, when he was part of a conversation with friends in which they planned to buy drugs the following night. He was honest with me about that conversation, and respected my wishes not to take part, but it did start a conversation in which he admitted he would like to use drugs from time to time in social situations again, and asked how I would feel about that.
    – I like to keep an open mind about things and think about all of this rationally, as well as question what my own qualms are about this. This isn’t a black and white issue, and I know a lot of our differences come from how we were raised, so I’m looking at things from his perspective as well. I respect that he knows his own body (and I especially don’t think it’s fair not to trust his own beliefs about those effects when he has had past drug experiences and I haven’t). Financially, he’s able to afford it, and in other situations, I have no issue with him choosing to spend his ‘leisure’ money how he wants to. It’s not an addiction problem, and I don’t foresee it becoming one. It would remain rare, and on social occasions, as it was in the past. So I think it comes down to my own fear of the risks, and knowing that it’s a different choice than I would make for myself, for many reasons (the illegality and what it could mean if he’s ever caught, possible health consequences if something ‘went wrong’, judgement by others outside our immediate circle of friends, me not wanting to take responsibility for keeping an eye out for him at the time if he’s in an altered state of mind, or long-term if there were ongoing consequences, etc.). Essentially, I know what choice I would be comfortable making if I weighed all of those aspects for myself (don’t take drugs), but is it fair to impose that choice on him?

    It’s likely going to be an ongoing discussion, and it may be a case of laying some boundaries and seeing how I feel if we test out a one-off situation that we both agree feels safe and acceptable.

    But thanks for opening up a lot of perspectives. There were some elements I hadn’t considered before (e.g. our own risk comfort/discomfort in all areas of life), and I’m sure I will continue to come back to this thread as we try to work this out, as it’s been really helpful.

  • Anya

    My instinct too
    is to say run for the hills.

    But it’s interesting to me reading so
    many different points of view, some are concerned with the legality of the
    situation, others have compared it to adventurous hobbies such as skydiving,
    some say she is too conservative and risk adverse.

    Honestly, none of the above are the
    real issue for me personally. I used to be a recreational drug user and my ex-boyfriend
    was too.

    For me, it comes down to the fact that this isn’t a cool or interesting hobby. It’s
    just boring and lazy and people who use drugs become so uninteresting. It
    results in mood swings, and spending the next day lying in bed and a general
    lack of motivation. And that’s just so uninteresting to me. When I quit using
    drugs I started working on me and making my life in and of itself more
    interesting so I didn’t have to use drugs and alcohol to have a good time. I
    now read more and travel more and have learned a new language and rock climb
    and cook and in general do cool things with my free time. And I surround myself
    with people who inspire me to do more interesting things. My new partner is so
    interesting and intelligent and I am so so much happier than back in the day
    when dinner time conversation was more or less “ maaan I got so wasted last
    night. Remember when x fell ony and then laughed…”

    I know I’ll get a lot of push back on
    this. But honestly drug use is not interesting. It’s very boring. And I only
    get to live one too short life, so I’d rather make it interesting

  • CTL

    LW, you need to listen to you gut on this one. I dated someone for about 2 years that was a recreational drug user, and I occasionally smoked marijuana with him as well. To him it was (his words) apart of opening himself up spiritually. Slowly over the course of our relationship he started using some heavier stuff while he was out with friends, I wasn’t present, and it wasn’t until he decided to take some LSD in front of me under the guise of “I want to enlighten you,” (as if it was his job to educate me, the asshat) that I walked out the door and never looked back. I had established my boundaries with him about drug use from the beginning of our relationship and he pushed the limit and became blatantly disrespectful of that, and that was it for me. I don’t regret that decision in the least bit.

  • Carolyn

    I haven’t read all the comments so maybe this has been addressed, but in response to the question: “Is it something worth going to counseling for, or is there a risk of them reporting him due to the illegality…” Therapists and counselors would be breaking patient confidentiality if they reported drug use to authorities. The only reason it could be reported is if it occurred in the context of child neglect/abuse (in this case, social services would be contacted) or if the person was also imminently suicidal, for example (in which case, he/she would be taken to a psychiatric hospital). As a therapist, I just wanted to mention this here because I wouldn’t want someone to not seek treatment because of a reporting concern.

  • DL

    I’m in a similar situation with my partner, but I think we’re making progress. We’ve been together five years, and just got engaged (yay!). He’s a live-in-the-moment socializer, and I am a think-about-the-consequences socializer, so while I’ve done MDMA a handful of times, it’s not part of the life I want for myself or my partner. When we got together, he told me he had done cocaine back when he worked as a banker (work hard, play hard), but he told me it was behind him. Once some of my old high school pals started getting into it, and we would go out together, my partner had a hard time saying no. He didn’t want to say no. We fought about it – it’s been the biggest source of tension in our relationship. I want him to be healthy, and safe. He’s older than I am, and I worry about the effects of cocaine and other drugs (especially taken in the moment, from whatever source is on hand, not tested). But I stuck with him because I know his heart – I trust him more than anyone in the world. He’s generous, kind, loyal – and he always fessed up when he had done it. (I can also tell in a second if he tries to lie – he’s got no poker face!). Most importantly, he told me he didn’t want drugs to be part of his future either, especially once he has kids. It was also always recreational – only when he was out with other people doing it, never on his own, never more frequently than once a month or so. He hasn’t taken any hard drugs for a year now, thanks to finding greater happiness at work, and other outlets for stress (like soccer). I say we’re making progress, though, because I know he’ll probably do it again. What matters is that we both feel the same way about drugs, and that he wants me to help him stop. He’s a bit older than I am, and his attitude is something that evolved over time, so maybe your guy still has time to change his perspective. I suppose my only advice is to ask if you trust him, and are you willing to be there for him if he needs it.

  • SamiSidewinder

    For me, the parameters option is how I deal with the anxiety. So our deal is ‘natural’ drugs. Mushrooms and pot mostly. If it ever came across his path, peyote and any of those spirit vision type drugs. Also we include acid outside of the natural designation. But I’m usually on that train with him. I dislike the idea of Molly and ecstasy for health reasons so he has quit those except in very rare occasions, which I’m aware of when he takes them and it is never a full dose anymore. For us the key was for us both to flex. I’m less uptight, he’s more mellow and mindful. But neither of us is drastically different in our views. And sometimes that drives one of us crazy. But in a totally worth it kind of way.