Is My Brother Addicted?

By Dr. Robert Wallace

July 4, 2019 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: Do you consider the use of any drugs at all as addiction? My brother smokes a small amount of marijuana maybe two times per week (I know because we're very close). He started using it about three months ago. It's not legal in our state, but my brother says that since "weed" is legal in many other states, like California and Colorado, it won't be long until it's legal here, too. So to his logic, this means he is not doing drugs.

But I think there is another potential problem. One of his friends who often smokes weed with my brother also takes opioids. I know this because I heard him talking to my brother about his opioids, and one time, I even saw him offer an opioid pill to my brother. My bro said no, but I'm worried he might become a drug addict soon if he keeps smoking marijuana, since it's illegal here. — Worried Younger Sibling, via email

WORRIED YOUNGER SIBLING: When a person tries a new drug a few times, it probably isn't addiction at that point. But if the drug is used on a regular, consistent basis — even once a week, but every week — the person is probably addicted.

Now, when it comes to the legality of marijuana, it's true that the public perception is indeed changing right before our eyes. Some who use marijuana do go on to take other drugs and substances, but several studies so far have shown that the majority of those who use marijuana do not take any other illegal substances.

My fear for your brother is more rooted in the friends he hangs around with, rather than his apparently moderate use of marijuana at this point. Peer pressure can be a powerful thing, and should he ever accept his friend's offer to start trying opioids, he will be entering a very dangerous world indeed.


DR. WALLACE: I'm 16, and I live with my mother and stepfather. My parents divorced three years ago, and my mother remarried at the end of last year. My father has remarried also, and he now lives in Chicago. Ever since my mother remarried, she seems to have changed. She hardly has time for me, and she is all "goo-goo eyes" over her new husband.

Fortunately, he is a nice man. But he has a daughter my age who lives with his ex-wife, and all he ever talks about — besides coddling my mom — is his biological daughter. He hardly knows I'm alive. I called my father, and he said that if it was all right with my mother, I could move to Chicago and live with him and his new wife. I asked my mom, and she said it was my decision. She told me she would give me permission if that was my wish, but she would rather I didn't go.

I kind of think that I might like to go, but the fact is that I'm terribly shy. I don't make new friends easily, and I've got several really close friends here in Indiana. I'm feeling a little lost lately. What should I do? — Feeling Invisible, Hobart, Indiana

FEELING INVISIBLE: Stay in Indiana with Mom, and please make sure that both she and her new husband read the letter you sent me. Let them know how you feel, even if you are shy about bringing this up. It is very important that you communicate your feelings to your mother. Many times, the written word is the most powerful, and this will hopefully be an easier way to bring the subject up. After your stepfather and mother read this, I trust they will realize that they are unintentionally (and temporarily) shutting you out of their lives, and they will quickly seek to change their ways. It sounds like they are in love, which is good, but this is no excuse for not providing you with the attention and nurture you need as a young lady your age. Be sure to calmly and sincerely ask your mom directly to please spend some more time with you, as you need her guidance and direction.

By doing this, you'll retain two things — both of which are important. First, you'll remain comfortable with your current school and set of long-standing friends you have there; second, you will retain the option to move to Chicago and live with your father in the future if your home life does not improve to your satisfaction going forward. Hopefully your mother will give you a big hug and the attention you need once she fully realizes how you truly feel.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: werner22brigitte at Pixabay

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