Double Standard About Substance Abuse

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: Last year around Christmas, my boyfriend and I went out drinking with friends. We had a blast. Unfortunately, when we got back to our hotel room, we got into a verbal fight and he ended up kicking me in the face. I was shocked and felt sick to my stomach. We had gotten into fights before while drinking but it had never turned physically violent before. He was horrified by his actions and we spent the next week talking about it. We agreed to quit drinking together.
We eventually started drinking again recently. He also smokes tons of weed and hash oil and pops Vicodins every two weeks. He has a medical marijuana card for back pain. I prefer to drink wine and compared to last year, I have cut way back. My birthday was last week and I met up with several people for some birthday drinks. Well, he thinks I have a problem now and insists that I stop. I like drinking wine, it tastes good and calms me and I already have it under control. I have never asked him to cut down in his pill-popping or his weed intake. I feel that I deserve to drink a couple glasses of wine with friends on the weekend if I want, since I do not do anything else. I dont take medication, pills, or smoke weed or cigarettes. I said that if he wanted me clean and sober then he had to do so as well. He thinks it is unfair of me to ask him to quit smoking and defends it by saying that it is a legal medicine now. To me, it seems that he has replaced his drinking with Vicodins and hash oil. I just want to be able to enjoy my wine on the weekends and for him to get off my back.

A: I don’t think I can help you with this. You are both too invested in hanging on to your habits. It worries me, for example, that you say that wine calms you. That suggests that you use it for more than sociability. And I agree that your boyfriend is substituting one addiction for another. Apparently, you both have a long history of substance use and abuse. Yes, you both cut back and even quit for awhile but you are each going down the same old road again.

At 35, you aren’t kids. You know where this leads. It’s part of a long standing fight between you. Yes, I do think you both need to quit for good. But it doesn’t matter what I think. Only the two of you can decide if you want to always include addictions as a third party in your relationship.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Double Standard About Substance Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/22/double-standard-about-substance-abuse/