Advice from the Trenches: Stirring the Pot


What does northern Rhode Island need to know in 2023?

Welcome to Advice From the Trenches, a monthly feature on NRI NOW

This column hopes to be take on some new topics for 2023. From medical problems and household appliances, to community resources for those who need them, we have medical and alternative health expert consultants as well as our long-standing resource; “Dr. B.,” a double-boarded psychiatrist; ready to take on your questions.

We aim to put their knowledge, along with learned experience of resources such as money-saving hacks and tips, to good use. With consultants who can answer many questions on issues spanning from mental health, to freelancing tips, to self treatment for common injuries, our question is: what help do you need from the experts?

Send your thoughts, ideas and woes to Don’t forget to mention that you’re an NRI NOW reader so we can be sure to publish the answer here!

Stirring The Pot

Dear C and Dr. B;

Liam and I have been going out for about a year. We’re both people who have good jobs and we are both very moderate social drinkers. Every once in a while, Liam would have a joint; we’d share one after if we were in for the night. 

While we were dating, we had a really great thing – I can be kind of hyper and oversensitive and he is a lot more easy going. We balanced each other out. So we decided to move in together.

This was when I learned that Liam smoked pot more than I realized. In fact, the easy going part of him owed a lot to cannabis. When I brought up my concern he told me had a medical need for it. But he doesn’t have a medical marijuana license! He buys from a guy he’s known since high school, so he says it’s OK.

I have to admit this makes me sort of nervous. But am I overreacting? Like I said, I tend to over react to a lot of stuff.      

Disturbed Debra

Dr B says:

Liam’s laid back calm exterior, which can seem very attractive, is not a skill-based phenomena. It is a pharmaceutical one that is a serious red flag. What it most often means is that internally, a person is a larger mess; and that behavior will eventually surface. Marijuana can be used like alcohol or Xanax to suppress anxiety and caring enough to live in the moment and kick things down the line. But suppressing emotions never works for long. 

A good question to ask yourself is whether your self doubt is entirely your own stuff. Is Liam emotionally present in your relationship? Mood suppressing substances such as pot can cause people to replace emotional presence with passive aggressive tactics such as gaslighting. I admit that this is not necessarily true for people who use occasionally, or for those using medical marijuana for real medical issues. But any use of a substance in place of dealing with things here and now will become a serious problem eventually. 

If you don’t like things now, it won’t get better later. No one can change, mature, or grow, for another person. Liam has to want to grow for himself. A relationship is only as good as the skill set both parties bring to the table. If you need to learn skills in being calm and more objective, take some dialectic behavioral therapy classes. 

If you don’t have personal clarity, you won’t be able to evaluate others well. What people say, and who they really are, are very often out of sync. 

C says:

Let’s not point the finger at Liam just because he’s an obvious target. You’ve got a habit of your own, Debra. You’ve been depending on Liam to diffuse you just as much as he’s been depending on pot to diffuse him. It’s hard to say which habit is worse. If your relationship doesn’t work out, Liam can take his stash with him. But where does that leave you? Looking for another laid back guy to balance you off? 

I think that you and Liam have an equal chance of getting your shit together. It all depends on whether both of you are willing to take an honest look at what’s going on. 

First, Liam has to wake up to reality. If he does have a medical condition, he should not be treating himself, he should get a doctor’s diagnosis and buy at a compassion center. His dealer may be a reliable friend, but his pot is not. At compassion centers, each product is clearly labeled with source, genetics, and precise CBD and THC levels. If Liam is actually serious about controlling a health problem, then getting a clear diagnosis and targeted dosage is the way to go. 

Of course, Liam may just want to stay baked and avoid reality – but considering he’s not a problem drinker, that is not a foregone conclusion. People who abuse substances tend to abuse alcohol as well.

 As for you, Debra, you need something other than Liam to diffuse your hyperactive nerves. Therapy, meditation, martial arts, yoga, community service, or exercise are all remarkably helpful… but these are tools which require personal effort. Effort is an important part of real change. Be wary of doctors who suggest Xanax or antidepressants. These are drugs that have their own ability to generate a false laid back approach to life.

The bottom line is this: can you and Liam support each other, grow, and become the best you both can be? Or are you just embroiled in a recreational relationship that encourages weakness and co-dependence? At this point, you don’t know. It’s time to find out.

As originally published in Motif Magazine.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at

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