Ask Amy: Drug use may lead to couch surfing

August 29, 2012

DEAR AMY: My 20-year-old son lives with me. He is a good person. He works (although I would prefer that he go to school, but that has to be his decision).

He has been smoking marijuana for some time now, and his behavior shows it. He justifies his pot smoking by equating it to my having a few drinks on the weekends.

I have asked him numerous times not to smoke in my house, and he continues to do that. Last night our family dog got into his bedroom, and while removing him from the room I found my son’s stash of psychedelic mushrooms.

I flushed them and left my son a note that he can stay in my home only if he gets counseling, otherwise he has a month to find somewhere else to live. He says he’ll go.

I have put him out in the past, but I found out that he was living in his car.

This is breaking my heart, but I can’t just sit here and allow his behavior. I need some help and backup that I am doing the best thing. -- Devastated

DEAR DEVASTATED: Your son’s pot smoking is not the same as you having a few drinks on the weekends, because, well, to start with, marijuana is (still) illegal. At 20, he is also under the legal drinking age.

Regardless of whether your son accepts counseling, you should seek it for yourself. Nar-Anon hosts support meetings for family members of drug users; check nar-anon.org for one close to you.

You will need support to face the challenges ahead. Unfortunately, you cannot make your son’s choices for him. You can only try to influence him, without enabling him.

Without free housing from you, he’ll have to face the reality of couch surfing or living in his car.

Keep the door open to a relationship but do not allow him to manipulate you. Let him know that the only choice you will financially support is sobriety.

DEAR AMY: I have a problem with our best friends. When they come to dinner at our home, they’ll talk about their financial planning, how concerned they are about retirement or their latest trip (cruises, trips overseas, etc.).

They have generous retirement pensions from government jobs to look forward to. My spouse and I, on the other hand, have only the retirement accounts that we have created.

My problem is that when they bring a bottle of wine to our house, the wife always takes back the bottle of wine at the end of the evening, if it hasn’t been opened. I haven’t figured out how to tactfully bring this up. -- Fast Friend

DEAR FAST: It seems you are vexed by the differential in your nest eggs, as well as the wine take-back.

In the future, you can change the financial subject by saying, “Well, any more talk of this and Angie and I will be tempted to ask you to adopt us! Have you been following the debate about the school budget in the paper?”

The wine issue is much easier to swallow.

When your friends arrive with their bottle of wine, you should exclaim, “Look, honey, merlot!” and open it first.

DEAR AMY: You ran a letter from a man who asked, after 25 years of marriage, “At what point is it okay for one spouse to walk away from a marriage?”

I, too, had been married 25 years, and my children were young adults. I had obtained a graduate degree, had a full-time teaching position, owned my own car, had my own salary and was on top of the world, enjoying my new “women’s liberation.”

Our marriage had stalled, and I felt boxed in. In rationally thinking through a divorce, I realized I would have lost my children’s love and confidence, as well as divorcing a second family (his). The price was too high.

During the first visit in a marriage counselor’s office, my husband declared, “I didn’t know you felt that way!” It was the first step toward a marriage that lasted 62 years. -- Glad I Stayed

DEAR GLAD: Your husband played his part. Good for both of you.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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