Dear Barb—Weed Worries

Dear Barb:

I have been dating this really cool guy for the last eight months; at least I thought he was cool, now I’m starting to wonder if he has a problem with weed.  When we first met we would smoke together and have a lot of laughs.  It was great for a while, but now it seems to have become the focus of our daily lives.  I am trying not to smoke everyday, but my boyfriend says there is nothing wrong with it.  This is becoming a problem in our relationship.  I don’t want to spend my life with a stoner.  I want to have a family and a career.  I don’t want my kids to have a father who lives his life in a hazy weed fog.  I think my boyfriend has a real problem.  Are there any obvious signs that would indicate he has a serious problem, or am I just overreacting?

Thanks, Wendy. 

Hey Wendy:

Thanks for sharing your all-too-common situation.  The occasional use of marijuana does not pose a risk to most people, however once a line is crossed everything changes.  Signs of marijuana addiction may include a variety of behaviours, mainly if your boyfriend is getting high daily and that seems to be his central concern for the day, then you can be sure he has a problem.  Using marijuana may cause changes in the brain, as any mind-altering substance can.  Significant changes in a person’s behaviour may be an indication of an addiction problem.  For example, you may notice your boyfriend is no longer interested in socializing with friends and family as he once did.  He may even begin hanging out with a whole new group of friends, who are also heavily into smoking weed.  As well, you may notice your boyfriend having problems at work.  If he is getting high at work, then, depending on the nature of his job, he could be putting others at risk.  Driving while high and having unprotected sex are also risky behaviours which often indicate poor decision making.  Research has shown that a major component of marijuana, THC, can cause changes to the frontal cortex of the brain.  Financial and legal problems may also result from this high-risk behaviour.

Another consideration is that excessive use of weed may have a negative impact on a person’s health.  For example, long term excessive use of marijuana can affect short term memory which impedes the ability to learn new things, it also increases the risk of heart attack, and, if a pregnant woman uses marijuana, research has indicated her child’s long memory with be impacted.  As well, toxins can be passed from mother to infant in breast milk.

I don’t think you are overreacting.  The excessive use of weed is not something that should be taken lightly.  You and your boyfriend need to have a serious conversation and perhaps speak to an addiction counselor.  Thanks Wendy.