This Friday on my way back from work I had to fetch some camping gear from a friend who’d borrowed it. I’ve known him for more than 20 years and he is undoubtedly a fellow addict. By his own admission he drinks like a fish and smokes weed like a chimney. In our twenties he was also into the hard stuff and got himself hooked on heroin for a while but made a recovery from that and coke. Apart from his weed and alcohol “problem” he is a great guy – like most addicts I know. He is the son of a preacher who works as a camera man ans looks like a model. He got married about a year ago and his wife is mostly happy to smoke and drink with him. Unfortunately I certainly cannot say the same about mine. Understandable, I suppose, given my history. Anyway, I wanted to see him after he’d called me that morning. We enjoyed a good chat on the phone. He’d informed me he had just smoked a spliff before he called me and since that moment my brain started nagging for the same. Completely fixated. So I offered to come and pick up my stuff from his place as opposed to him dropping it off at mine because I had the passive hope he would offer me a joint when I came over. Now it is important to note that I have an informal curfew for getting home, which is around 7pm. I only arrived at his place at about 6:20pm and stood around chatting to his wife and playing with his toddler while I waited for my friend to return from an errand. His wife was drinking wine but I declined since I was still worried, at this stage, that my wife would smell it when I came home (she had really freaked out the last time she’d busted me for drinking). I was counting the minutes until he arrived and when he did my hopes were not disappointed – he asked me to smoke a joint with him. It was now 6:35pm and I still had another 10 minute drive to my house to take into account. The rolling of said joint felt like an eternity. My phone had gone dead an hour before so I couldn’t call my wife to buy me some more time. We finally smoked the spliff – my friend, his wife and I – and it was pretty strong stuff. Too strong in fact. I didn’t feel I could bluff my wife into thinking I was sober anymore – especially since I wasn’t going to make the curfew. I was hopelessly stoned, and besides, I was enjoying the vibe at their house and catching up with an old friend who shared my burden of substance abuse. Now I was in risk mitigation mode: I had to call my wife (from one of their phones) and I had to obfuscate the fact that I would be stoned when arriving home. My plan for the latter was to drink because drunkenness was the lesser of the two evils in my wife’s books (knowing I was smoking weed would have killed her, and me!). I discussed strategy with my friend and we decided I should play open cards about drinking (at this point I’d already started gulping some wine) but that I would justify my actions on the grounds that it had been my birthday the previous day and that there was nothing wrong with having a drink with a close friend who wanted to celebrate the occasion. Of course I knew there was little chance of this qualifying for an exception to the “no alcohol” policy (for my wife there were no exceptions) but it was better than nothing and I could plead the lesser charge of having “a few” glasses of wine. I was also asking for another hour and a half to two hours of socializing with my friend. The call went worse than I expected, and my expectations were pessimistic to begin with. As soon as I admitted to drinking she slammed the phone down (so to speak). A second call culminated in her screaming at the top of her lungs that I am to come home “right now”. This I was unwilling to do. My rebellious side had taken over and the effects of the weed and alcohol fortified me. I was saying I had a right to drink with a friend on occasion and she was saying I’m an addict. It culminated into such a scene that I even played the divorce card again. She was mad as hell and I felt under attack. Nothing was resolved but my friend’s wife intervened, calming her down and briefing me about how I could try to undo the damage. I lingered with them for another while because I enjoyed the conversation and just being in another person’s household for a change. I dreaded going home because I expected a face to face confrontation on my arrival. My friend and his wife were really nice about giving me marital advice but they didn’t really touch on the real issue of substance abuse. What I did glean from the conversation was that my friend had a porn addiction stacked on top of the other two. About this his wife was not so understanding. They are still a relatively young couple but there had already been a time when his wife had wanted him to quit smoking weed. She had clearly lost that round but I know it will come up again later (unless she is also an addict). I admitted to my friend that despite all the drama I actually needed my wife to be strict with me about drinking etc to keep me on the rails. I certainly can’t do it by myself. When I got home at around 9pm the lights were out and she was thankfully asleep with the kids. We had to start picking up the pieces the next day. Once again I would pledge not to drink again – to her and to myself. It is so humiliating having to keep trying and keep failing. My friend agreed that we never wanted this fucking disease of addiction. We didn’t ask for it but the internal guilt is always eating at your soul. Fortunately the feeling subsides when you’re clean for a few days but as soon as the internal struggle starts again then so does the pain. I’ve been clean and sober for 5 days now but already the war in my head is starting up again. When will I win?