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I'm In a Relationship With Someone Who I Would Say Is a "Functioning" Alcoholic -- what should I do?

by Renee

Right now, he drinks 3-4 drinks per day, every day, and has a couple of puffs of pot before he goes to bed so he can sleep. He has a great job, though stressful, and says he needs to "quiet his mind" to be able to function after most days of work. We've been together a year and 4 mos. and he wants to get married.

We have had a lot of ups and downs in the relationship due to his anxiety -- but I'm not sure how much the substances contribute to his issues. And he doesn't seem to fit the descriptions that I'm hearing, where people stay out all night or pass out drunk on the floor. Or get emotionally or physically abusive. He just gets relaxed and affectionate when he drinks/smokes, and wants to stay home and hang out.

So my question is -- should I expect things to get worse? Should I bail and not marry him, since there's a possibility he could devolve into a full-blown alcoholic or user? Answer

Hi Renee

You know, that's a very difficult question, because you can only really go by current evidence. Some people do control their consumption, even though it's a regular thing, so right now it's impossible to say how things could go with your boyfriend re his drinking and smoking pot.

Hindsight is a wonderful science, so telling what the future might hold is impossible. Obviously it is concerning that he seems to be basically self-medicating with alcohol and marijuana to help with his anxiety - and the danger is, if things at work get more stressful for him or his anxiety gets worse, his using will escalate.

So maybe its a bit early to make up your mind either way. Encourage him to seek out professional help for his anxiety, and gauge whether that makes a difference with his drinking/smoking patterns. There are a lot of very good prescriptions drugs ... and even natural/alternative medicines you'll find at health stores that can make a huge difference in helping with anxiety. That's why getting advice from a professional would be a great place to start.

And don't be afraid to voice your concerns with him, by telling him you're reluctant to commit to the long-term based on how regularly he drinks/smokes, because things could very well get worse over time and become a serious problem.

Ultimately you've got to trust your instincts though. We aren't there so can't really get a feel of the dynamics of your relationship. You're right to be concerned, so try and address those with him and see where that leads. But if your instincts are telling you that things may well get worse, and he's not prepared to take your concerns seriously, then trust yourself to make the best decision for you.

Good Luck with whatever you decide.

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