The Alcoholic Fights for His Herb by “Mr. W.”

The author is a 33-year-old journalist with a Masters in English now seeking a PhD at a northeastern university. He sees marijuana and other drug prohibition as a human rights issue on par morally with the struggles — past and ongoing — of America’s other historically oppressed groups.

The lack of clarity in the public mind about what comprises responsible use or abuse of a drug is a perpetual problem for me and millions of others — especially meek users who have been jailed with violent offenders because they had a plant that our Mighty Freedom-Loving Government disapproves off. We have wasted millions, maybe billions, telling kids to say “no” to drugs — but we don’t go another step to explain why Mom has to go to the drugstore every week. Or why Dad drinks so much coffee. Or why the cigarette industry proves to even the most strict libertarians that a little government oversight might help keep companies from pushing their powerful smokable stimulants on young people. No, Americans enjoy a strange type of hypocrisy whereby they can get downers and uppers from a commercial pharmacopeia that is larger than any in human history — while we look down at the junkie or the stoner next door.

It’s my luck that an addiction to a legal drug, alcohol, caused me all sorts of problems with the law. After being pulled over twice for driving while intoxicated in three months, I was forced to deal with my alcoholism and employ spiritual discipline and painful focus. The alcoholic self had been calling the shots, diverting me to expensive bars when I didn’t even want to drink. It was truly frightening when I realized that I no longer had a choice. I didn’t want to drink, but my body screamed for the relief of a double gin and tonic or three. I needed the help of A.A. — even though I maintain fundamental disagreements with how that recovery program works, and am not as active as I used to be.

It took three painful months to finally sober up to the dark reality my life had become. Though I am grateful for the support of other people in recovery, there are truisms in the A.A. and medical communities whose illogic continue to mar the understanding an alcoholic might make about his or her uses of substances besides alcohol — and let’s remember there are many.

In A. A. and other treatment programs, it’s deeply discouraged to even entertain the use of an illegal drug like marijuana, since it “would certainly reawaken the alcoholic mind” and “drive one to relapse.” That’s what I thought, too. But I don’t just have alcoholism– by far, my worst difficulty in life has been persistent Obsessive Conpulsive Disorder (with invasive thoughts) and generalized anxiety. I don’t know if they caused my booze problems, but they certainly made it harder to give up.

I was sober five months. I had a new house and seemed to be improving after an annus horribilus that, besides being busted, involved a relationship break up, a kitchen fire, and getting mugged. The desire to drink was almost gone, but my anxiety — particularly the idea that I had “done something wrong” — scorched my body. Sometimes I only left the house to see my probation officer, so deep was my fear of the world. He was happy with me, unlike his other cases, I was committed to changing. But he never understood how my anxiety was so painful that drinking was starting to have a sick appeal. For someone who barely escaped the deep throes of alcoholism — a disease that kills two thirds of its hosts — the idea of drinking was horrifying. But the temporary relief a few beers would produce made me consider a jaunt to the package store.

In February of 1998 my mind was intensely focused on the urge to find relief in the bottle. I had no support or understanding for my ongoing problems. I felt like I was missing a layer of skin.

Then I made a fateful compromise.

Realizing I really craved only a change in perspective, it occurred to me that alcohol was not the only option. Another was much safer.

So that’s when I found myself digging up an old marble bowl my sister left after a visit and toking on the remaining resin. This idea shamed me, but I knew drugs well enough to determine it was the better choice.

I don’t think old resin ever did so much to change one man’s point of view about pot.

Marijuana, to my mind still, was a fun drug, but part of the past. I doubted anyone would accept the idea of smoking pot as an emotional palliative. The term used in AA for my behavior was “marijuana maintenance”, as if it were a lousy substitute for the great inner alchemical work I was supposed to do with the Twelve Steps. But nobody in AA talked about being a multiple diagnosis drunk — I couldn’t tolerate any longer the stress that seemed to stretch my muscles to painful degrees.

But suddenly none of that mattered. MiraculousIy, I wasn’t paranoid that I was breaking the law, and the terms of my probation. A hit or two of resin for someone who had been off dope would mean a complete shift in consciousness.

As I scraped and toked at the awkward tarry chunks, I was suddenly an observer to my crisis, not someone caught up in its drama. “What am I worried about, again?” I thought. “There is nothing to be afraid of. The past is over.”

Though marijuana was often fun, I never took seriously the idea that it could have therapeutic use. I was amazed as, in minutes, it extinguished the whiny emotional pain bodies infecting my mind, and gave me a larger view. And it occurred to me I no longer craved alcohol. “I might be switching one addiction for another, ” I thought. “But at least I won’t have to be detoxed — if I only smoke pot.”

Despite the initial success, I was very wary and angry at myself a few days later for acquiescing. I was sure my probation officer and people in AA would know I was “relapsing.” Shame started to intensify.

Until I reconsidered what I had done with strict logic. The marijuana didn’t make me paranoid; it calmed me. The majority of alchies are on some pharmaceutical medication — I would gladly taken a benzo or two as needed, if a script had been available.

But I didn’t even have medical insurance. Pot was available. And it would never catch up to me or drive me to drink.

I say that after having quit the sauce for almost two years — while I cultivated a new love, and a new awareness, for the healing properties of pot. Suddenly I had more than enough. Even better, I also didn’t have to struggle in group situations where a social lubricant is shared. People, including my friends, would always feel awkward partying around me, making me only feel more self-conscious and alienated. Instead of becoming a recluse, I found that, with the help of marijuana, I could be calm and even joyous at events where drinks were served.

Still, I am sad that the legality of marijuana still poses risk. I could be drug tested, any time, and my positive result would not benefit from a rational explanation about how I had taken up another, less harmful, less addictive, non-fatal drug to ease my mental illness. It would be a stretch in the mind of the enforcement community to accept I could smoke dope and never pick up the substance that would really kill me.

Indeed, when I consider how much better off a chronic pot smoker is than a compulsive alcoholic, the social approval of drink makes no sense juxtaposed to the fierce condemnation of the wonderful, insight-giving herb.

I am not going to lie and say my use has always been moderate or periodic. I have been stoned for days. But that didn’t bother me so much when I realized I was taking a medication, not feeding a vile addiction. And my outward life improved enormously. I got a new job, lost weight, read many books — and never had to lie to my overseer, since he never asked me about pot. I could sincerely tell him about my recovery from alcoholism and became his ideal model for success. I take no pride in the deception — in fact, it’s filled me with dread at times — but it wasn’t deliberate. I went to meetings and took care of myself the way any good A.A. would. But the affinity for weed must be kept hidden for now. Were I not on probation, I would be marching on the streets for legalization.

For the first time in my experience with it, I felt the plant was showing me its distinct personality. I would hear a strange funny voice in my head, and sometimes wondered if the plant wasn’t communicating with me. Additionally, my sense of color and perception improved vastly. I mastered the star constellations — which I had never bothered to notice before — and even developed theories about how healing powers of color corresponded to the Eastern Chakra system. (I had been wearing mostly red, I realized, perhaps to reassure the low, frightened security chakra, whose color is traditionally rosy.).

Confident that experimenting with other power plants would not sully my recovery efforts, I had several experiences with illegal psychedelics — accentuated by a few tokes — which I found deeply healing. I have felt like a new man. The presence of marijuana and other natural intoxicants is as much to thank as the absence of booze. I stay away from narcotics, which seem particularly dangerous for the self-medicating alcoholic. But I don’t smoke cigarettes or even drink coffee. My drug intake is quite modest — it’s just not in line with social norms. Since police officials have the right to do a surprise visit at my home to see if I am hungover — or something else — I have had to exercise deep caution. Not even my pot-smoking sister knows — for she would worry, as she has the AA view about drugs. My mother is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction but she considers the use of power plants or LSD absurd for the recovering alcoholic, even though the founder of AA took acid and thoughr it could be very helpful for other drunks. I lay off the green during weeks with the family. It is not a challenge.

Marijuana is not for everyone, and certainly may be used irresponsibly. But prohibition, which forces people like me to the black market, is a constant reminder of how Neanderthal our drug policy is. This is reflected in the laws but also in the minds of most people — who wouldn’t understand how marijuana saved my life that February day.

68 Responses to “The Alcoholic Fights for His Herb by “Mr. W.””

  1. NewOldSalt says:


    In your opening paragraph above you point out how at odds our society is with itself. On the one hand the Henny-Penny’s of the world are running around terrorized of “addictions” (and “addicts”), but on the other hand nearly every advertisement tries to lead us into temptation and suck us into never-ending relationship with their product(s).

    Just this past weekend I caught some cooking shows and was astounded at how much like “drug pushers” they sounded. Almost every cook extolled how great their preparation was and how us viewers would want to make it and eat it as often as we could.

    We live in a society where even (mostly) innocuous activities and foods are promoted as life-changing, something we need to do constantly, something we should be “addicted” to and bring others in to the fold.

    It’s my belief that we really need to begin with young children to teach them to resist the onslaught of marketing. They need to be taught, from K-12th grade, to scrutinize the claims they are constantly bombarded with.

    Then if upon graduating from HS they wish to go over to the dark side and become professional marketers in the incessant race to make everyone a slave to their pimp, at least society has tried to encourage them to market honestly.

    Someone with power, like President Barack Obama, needs to give the self-righteous knee-jerk reactionaries a real public tongue lashing, like was delivered to Senator McCarthy. The drug warriors, their Draconian and Byzantine practices, and their millions of followers and profiteers need to be expunged from society.

    Clearly marijuana has a myriad of uses, and if we could only get our act together it has the potential to be what whales and polar bears are to the Eskimos! We could benefit from the many aspects of the plant, using nearly every part of it, and what’s left goes in the compost pile and is used for mulch.

  2. RK says:

    This was posted so long ago I’m not sure if anyone will even see this comment but I’m glad I’ve found this.

    Despite initial resistance, I’ve found AA to be very helpful in my recovery from alcoholism, though I am still very much at the beginning of my journey. But I suffer from depression and am also a pot smoker. The former I can be open about among the fellowship, the latter I cannot.

    In the interest of being honest, I disclosed this information to my first sponsor. Besides, “First Things First”, right? Let me deal with the problem that could physically kill me and is emotionally crippling me, and THEN, if it seems best, to make changes to other habits (pot-smoking, caffeine intake, cigarettes, etc). I can’t count the number of times I hear people say to not worry about quitting smoking (cigarettes) in their first year and to “focus on the alcohol”.

    Because I was unable or “unwilling” to change my usage as dramatically and drastically as my sponsor thought appropriate, she felt she could no longer work with me.

    As a result, I have not disclosed any of this to my current sponsor or anyone else in the fellowship. I have made a lot of progress, at least I assume so, from the numerous comments from those in and out of the program. After my first experience, I am afraid that I would be denied the gifts that the program can offer if I were to be equally open this time.

    (I should note that everyone outside of the fellowship and outside of work know of, and have no qualms with, my usage; from my boyfriend, to my parents, to my psychiatrist.)

    Smoking marijuana does greatly decrease my anxiety, thus often slightly diminishing the desire to drink. But, for me, as I can only speak of my own experience, the two “addictions” are quite separate for the most part. I’m an alcoholic, and one with less than 2 months continuous sobriety (from alcohol and everything other than marijuana), and when I’m thinking about a drink, that’s what I want. Smoking pot may help lessen the anxiety somewhat but it does not negate my obsession for alcohol. In the same vein, neither does smoking marijuana make me crave or think of alcohol or provoke a relapse.

    So when other AAs say that smoking pot is just substituting one addiction for another, for me, I don’t feel that’s entirely true. And, as you’ve pointed out, even if that is so, this one will not kill me. And I believe that it is indeed possible to attain and maintain a spiritual connection of my understanding while doing this. It’s already happening.

    Anyway, thanks again for writing this. I had always suspected that there were others in the fellowship that felt similarly, and I’m glad to see I was correct, even if we all have to remain in the shadows about it.
    Apologies to anyone if they actually bothered to read this fairly egocentric diatribe but it’s not really something I get to talk about much.

  3. B. Smoker says:

    story encompass many of the details you have described above. Alcohol is deadly to me when I drink. And cannabis has always worked, even though AA seems to hate/fear it. This has caused me to be reluctant to seek my AA sponsor’s help, at times when depression and anxiety were very troubling. Interesting that I found this post today, because I was contemplating, earlier, how I wish that there were a Canna-friendly AA group to attend. I’m really sick of drinking to calm down just because decent weed is almost cost-prohibitive due to current laws.

  4. Tracy says:

    I am a 52 yr female nurse, wife, mother and an alchoholic. Lost my career of 23 yrs. my family and my dignity. Went through several rehabs without any success. I was thought what the hell and tried pot instead of giving in to my cravings and it has been very successful. I may never be a nurse again I have my family back.

  5. tom says:

    I have tried complete sobriety a number of times.
    Although it has its benefits of being an Angel, I put simply am not.
    It says in the book, we are not saints, the point is we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.
    I can tell you that since using beautiful outdoor marijuana on a daily basis, the sciatica down my leg of 11 years has finally deceased and the benefits i have in my sobriety are as follows:
    – I am finally able to socialise around larger groups
    – I am able to connect spiritually to my higher power morning and night
    – I am highly creative in my music and writings
    – I am able to go to at least one meeting per day
    – I can sleep well and maintain low anxiety throughout the day
    – I am not constantly thinking about drinking nor marijuana – I am focused on AA
    – I find green cheap and easily accessible through friends who grow outdoor organic
    – I am not afraid to be myself and be proud of my sobriety
    – I have constant constant with my sponsor and I am working the steps
    – I no longer feel unbalanced and I will finish on this:

    I am not powerless over Marijuana, in fact I can control the drug very well, and have a tolerance break for a while to cleanse my body.
    My life is not unmanageable. I manage study, work and daily meetings and have finally saved money and moved into a house and bought a motorbike.
    I feel clarity and have a strong sense of focus.
    I turn my will and life over to the care of god on a daily basis.
    I love AA and will say that some people cannot smoke pot and do the program. I am blessed with enough desperation to get well and work the program to the fullest, marijuana helps me maintain my brain, if that makes sense. It gives me a sense of balance and sorts out the Yin in the Yang for I believe that everybody has their secrets, and if it doesn’t hurt yourself or anybody else and you can manage and your alcoholic recovery, you have hit the jackpot. There are thousands of weed strands, find the right one for you and love life.

  6. RK says:

    I’m glad I bookmarked this and checked back to find other comments.

    I have since come clean to a few other AA members about my usage, and although I’ve been fortunate that, as yet, none of those I’ve told has thought less of me because of it.

    But I also know they do not understand.

    Reading these comments have really helped me to realize I’m not alone, even if I will never know any of you, and that I can still work the steps, and lead a happy useful life without giving up something that genuinely helps my mental well-being.
    Service and the steps have absolutely saved my life, and I don’t want to have to choose between my life and my mental health.

    Thank you.

  7. RAD says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been in recovery from alcohol for 268 days. My first day out of a 28 day program I bought red bull and cigs. This was the biggest mistake I have made in my recovery. After an additional 90 days at a sober living, I was smoking cigs, drinking unprecedented levels of caffine and eating alot of sugar. I started smoking weed again within two weeks. I consider it to be a important part of my journey in dealing with social situations with drinkers. Sometimes I think I should completly abandon these situations. I also enjoy the culture of smokers, and I join in the ritual to feel part of the community.
    Strictly speaking in terms of recovery, I believe that complete sobriety is the ideal for an alcoholic in recovery. I believe complete sobriety includes weed, tobacco, sugar processed foods, all addictive/mind altering unnatural substances. Weed is in my experience much less harmful than tobacco caffine and sugar, and I intend to achieve complete sobriety through working the 12 steps of alcoholism.
    In terms of the fellowship of alcoholics annonymus, I have not told anybody in the fellowship that I smoke. I do not want to stir the pot as it were, I only work on my own sobriety and refrain from any controversy. I do feel a bit hypocritical for being in an honest program and omitting certain pertinent details about my recovery. God Willing I will continue to grow closer to god every moment on my path. I prey the goddess grant many moments for I&I to learn today.

  8. TE says:

    I have to disagree with RAD, I am an alcoholic and booze almost killed me. It ruined me. I knew alcoholism ran in my family so i was always cautious with it. But even being aware and educated, it got me. If alcoholism is in your family genes, it is probably better to never ever take a drink. Marijuana saved me. I dont think it could kill you or put you in the hospital with withdrawal. Complete recovery does not mean sugar and other foods or weed. These are totally different from alcohol. Good luck with your “complete recovery”. You sound awfully high and mighty to me.

  9. JL, PDX says:

    Thx for posting. If booze were as trouble-free as pot, I never would have joined AA. I feel conflicted because I’m being forced by peer pressure to consider them equivalent evils, and I know that’s just not true. To hear about the “marijuana maintenance program” from people who would lose their minds if deprived of their precious cigs is ridiculous. I wish I could talk about it in the program, but I guess the meaning of the phrase “remember, we deal with alcohol” eludes some of my fellow drunks.

  10. MP says:

    I am glad I stumbled upon this site because I was beginning to think I was the only one who attended AA regularly, worked the steps and smoked. I have been afraid of being judged and being told that I’m not really sober. All I know is that I will soon have two years of sobriety from alcohol and was on the verge of institutions and death. I have suffered from anxiety since I was young and came close to death while using anxiety meds to try and control my drinking. I too have my family back and I don’t suffer anymore like I did while drinking.

  11. Mike A says:

    Thank you so much for posting this and for everyone who has contributed. I had my last drink of alcohol on August 17, 1986; my “dry” date which makes me as of this date over 27 years sober. I stopped attending AA meetings on a regular basis around the 7 year mark. I say regularly as I would still attend the occasional meeting in my home town and when I travelled for work I would also attend meetings to see what they were like in other cities.

    Five years ago I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and my girlfriend at the time recommended I smoke pot to alleviate the nausea and the pain. The nausea was in the morning and the pain in the afternoon/evening/overnight. I never smoked a lot in the beginning, I could seriously make an eighth of an ounce last a month. Then it was three weeks, then two, then one, then it was a quarter every two weeks and I found myself smoking a quarter a week. Around this time I also started dating pot heads. Now it was 1/2 of the time it was for pain and nausea management, and more and more it was for “recreation”.

    A month ago I had enough of other issues around my disease, such as anger and decided to go back to meetings. I mentioned in a meeting my marijuana use and it got back to me that I have been “labelled” by some as not being honest and not working a good program. Actually the newcomer who told me this was told not to hang around me as I was a bad influence.

    I’ve been wrestling with this issue for a few days now, I will not change my dry date as I am still sober and following the third tradition in that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop DRINKING, which I have. As for the naysayers in the room who have labelled me, I realize now they are the ones who aren’t working a good program – or have forgot the third tradition and the slogan – Live and Let Live.

  12. Heather says:

    I find it really comforting to find other people are dealing with this issue too. We ought to start up a fellowship of AA’s who smoke pot. I’m sure there are lots of us who conceal it from our groups and sponsors. Smoking pot has enabled me to be more active and thoughtful and generally happy; I don’t wake up in the morning and feel like a piece of shit worthless loser anymore!!
    I’ve been sober for 21 months and I smoke pot most days and I’ve never felt better or been a better person, inside and out.
    We need a “Herbal AA”.

  13. Carl says:

    Thank you all, for the original post, and the follow up comments as well.
    I have been fighting the battle of the bottle since I was 13. I am now 41, and fighting every day to find the strength to quit drinking…Again.
    I made 5 months and a week, in 2010. I smoked pot every day, and felt fantastic. I lost 30 pounds, got plenty of exercise, and finished a lot of projects that had been lost in a sea of beer for years.
    Unfortunately, I went back to drinking. It’s not the weed’s fault, just my own weakness.
    I will never quit trying.
    Similar to the OP, I have fairly serious underlying mental health issues, that present a double edge sword. Life without some chemical is intolerable. Prescription psych meds have ranged from marginally effective, for a short period of time, to hiding in a closet, contemplating a single shot to the head.
    Some strains of marijuana do not agree with me, and can cause anxiety. Others work their magic, and calm me. All are better than alcohol!
    I may try to revisit AA. I gave up on it 20 years ago, but I am becoming truly frightened at my inability to quit drinking. I feel as if I am standing at a crossroad, choosing life or death.
    Sorry for the rambling post, my GED writing skills are not quite on par with some here.
    That said, all of your responses give me hope.
    Be well. Don’t drink. Smoke’m if ya got um’.

  14. Judy C says:

    What a great treat to find this discussion. My story began with chronic migraine headaches that disrupted my life 90% of the time three months after I stopped smoking herb in the early ’90s. I suffered for over 15 years with them, aided by western medicine which greatly eased the occurrence of the migs, but dehydrated my body to the point of early disintegration. The dentist called a halt to it when my teeth started getting cavities caused by the acid reflux caused by the migraine meds. I had begun to remember the correlation between the time I stopped using weed and when the headaches started, and when I stopped smoking. Three months. They say it stays in your system for that long. Before I began smoking I had a bout with a few headaches that were different in nature, but after I was introduced to pot in 1970 they never reappeared. I can no longer drink. My thyroid was removed sometime in the early 2000s and since then I can’t hold my liquor plus it doesn’t mix with all my meds, making me essentially an alcoholic too. I have had two sponsors release me due their feelings on this issue, but now I have one who smokes for medical reasons as well. It would be great to create an herb-friendly AA group. Carl, I invite you to revisit AA and see if you can find someone who is willing to concede the point. I no longer miss the alcohol and am happy with no headaches, or at least very few and much less intense, and the calm feeling weed affords me.
    Peace, be well.

  15. Lainie T says:

    Grest article and story!!! I would like everyone to join our group on Facebook! We are small but we are just like you and we share stories and articles about marijuana maintenance. We need to form a bigger community so we don’t have to worry about others judging our way of recovery. Fellowship is everything! Search for “marijuana maintenance recovery” on Facebook and I will add you!

  16. Michael says:

    For 17 years I have replaced alcohol with weed and skipped AA because of their views. Thank you God.

  17. Mike says:

    Thank you all for these posts. I am so glad I found this forum.
    I quit drinking 4 yrs ago after 38 years of functional alcoholism. The last 20 years I had to start drinking within 15 min of waking up in the morning or risk severe withdrawal symptoms. At 50 yrs old My liver quit functioning and my esophagus is screwed up so I was given the choice of quitting drinking or dying in a few months.
    I went to rehab and after having a tough withdrawal even with Valium and anti seizure meds was introduced to AA and it has saved my life. For someone who could not stay sober for even 4 hours, 4 years a true miracle. I owe this all to my higher power and working the 12 steps daily as well as going to 6-8 mtgs a week. However I still smoke pot. I do not consider it to even be in same category as alcohol or cocaine which I was also addicted to for 10 years. With both of those once I started drinking or snorting there was never enough I would not quit until it was all gone. With pot I can take 1 or 2 hits and I don’t really want anymore I feel good.
    I really feel guilty that AA is a program of rigorous honesty and I feel I have to keep a secret of the fact that I smoke pot as most members will say I have not been sober for 4 years and am not sober now.
    I now have cirrhosis which leads to many other medical problems one of which leaves me with lack of appetite which is helped by pot has been recommend to me by my doctor. I live in California so it is legal for me to smoke here and we have access to a very large selection of blends.
    I always hear in AA that if you are taking meds on doctors orders that is ok but I have found most AAs do not look at pot that way.
    I had thought I was the only one in this situation and was starting to think that I am not working a good program was concerned that took a dirty chip for 4 years and probably every other chip I took.
    After reading all your posts I now feel much better and that I really can work a good program and still enjoy a little herb now and then.
    It would be great to have a green group of AA.
    Thank you all and live life fully.

  18. Melissa says:

    My first Thanksgiving since childhood, probably, that I have not drank. I took my 90 day chip, this past Monday. Yesterday, I came out to my sponsor that I use marijuana for my anxiety and ADHD. I have been using marijuana, nearly everyday, for the past 20 years. I do not have more respect for someone in a lab coat than I do my pot dealer. But, she shares with me today, that she can only sponsor me if I get a prescription for my pot and change my sobriety date. This woman, whom I love and respect, took Paxil for 8 of her 10 years of “Sobriety”. Oh. Did she change her date? She wants me to get a prescription. This, the same woman, who went against Her daughter’s doctors advice to treat her diabetes. Instead of the recommendation from her doctor, she is treating her daughter, entirely, with nutrition. She says she cannot support the illegal activity of drug dealers and the people who buy from them. Yet, she shared with me that charges could be brought against her for child endangerment. So, it’s not ALL illegal activity that she’s against. Just the ones that don’t suit her needs. I believe in marijuana to treat anxiety disorder and depression. I do not ingest pharmaceuticals if I have a choice. I do not choose anti depressants. I do not respect a prescription from a medical community run by greed and profiting off of drugging our children, our mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, politicians, etc. it is not for me. But, you who pop their poison and point your fingers at me, are hypocrites. I have to stand by my belief in marijuana, God given, as medicine. I am without a sponsor on my first Thanksgiving without alcohol. I am sad.

  19. Lisa G says:

    Hi guys.

    I just celebrated ten years of continuous sobriety and cannabis helped me immeasurably along the way. My fellows ,well some of them,don’t think I am sober but my friends,family and doctors know the reality.
    Today, I take few opiates due to efficacious ,safe medicines and edibles and am more emotionally and physically strong than before using MMJ.
    I invite you to come join the facebook community that Lainey T suggested called “marijuana maintenance recovery”.
    2014 is going to be a stellar year and I think I’ll keep my recovery green for decades to come.
    PEACE and BLESSINGS for a pain free and sober 2014
    Lisa G

  20. Mary Jane says:

    Thank God for this site!!! I have been a member of AA for 6 years and a pot smoker since I was 14, and I’m 35 now. I believe pot has saved my life several times! Don’t get me wrong, I love AA. However, the judgement in a small-town AA community has been over-the-top harsh!! The Crazy part is most of them work in the industry, then come to AA and say pot will kill you or lead you to relapse. I know that if I didn’t have weed – especially in my first few years – I would have died by drinking and possible taken other people’s lives with me. I also wish there was a AA pot-friendly support group!!! I now lie to everyone in AA, saying “I don’t smoke weed anymore.” It’s just sad! If you’re judging others and taking their inventory, you are not working the AA program.

    Mary Jane

  21. Mr. W. says:

    Hello, everyone! Wow, it’s been almost five years since I wrote my little tirade above. I spoke to Lester recently, because I was keen to edit out the minor typos (and to improve the first paragraph!). But these responses indicate it ain’t broke, so I won’t fix it.

    It’s so heartening to put up something so personal and get such awesome responses from people in similar situations. In September, I celebrate seven years without alcohol. Everyday without drinking or even the desire is a blessing it seems you understand. Cannabis has been a huge part of that, along with some principles of AA (don’t get me started about its problems; I think Bill W. himself would be ashamed), cognitive-behavioral therapy, twelve-stepping others who have trouble being abstinent from EVERYTHING, and living in nature, I have never been so happy in my life. “Maintenance” feels like a misnomer. Recovery (with, not “from” cannabis) seems more appropriate.

    I am off probation but still closeted for personal and professional reasons. I looked long and hard for the “green” recovery groups on facebook some suggested above. Hopefully someone will come back to this site and give me the URL, for I had no luck.

    Lester Grinspoon, bless his soul, called me literally ten minutes after I wrote the above as an email. I was in a panic after a surprise visit from the P.O. A bowl was sitting in plain view, but my dear P.O. could not have seen it. That did not stop a major anxiety attack. I was furious to be in such a situation, but I am thankful now because the above would not have been written without the fuel of frustration.

    Many years of happy recovery to all of you, with or without cannabis, and bless you again for letting me know I wasn’t alone.

    Mr. W.

    PS– the quickest case I could make for cannabis recovery to laypersons or AA right wingers would be imagine, juxtaposed, two photos: a chronic alcoholic before and after twenty years, and a daily cannabis user before and after twenty years. Whom do you think would look better? I don’t think there’s a contest, for many drinkers would be dead before even ten years passed.

  22. motoxgal says:

    Awesome to find actual support, real alcoholics who smoke weed. I enjoy smoking weed for depression and anxiety and just sheer enjoyment. I have been alcohol free for 2 yrs and 9 months, have smoked pot for the last year. I was separated from my husband and started having an affair with someone in the program (bad decision BTW). I told him the first time I smoked pot while in the program, his reaction was extreme, therefore I felt I couldn’t talk to him about it. I was told I failed and don’t want to face AA and announce I failed (I don’t feel I failed, but realize to him I did). I saw how a group reacted to another girl who openly admitted she was on the maintenance program, they mocker her and were beyond rude. I don’t want to be publicly ridiculed, he is right there. He has told me I shouldn’t attend AA, or share or take coins, I should basically shun myself.
    I’m sorry, but even in my church would I be shunned for my choice to smoke pot. But wow, I haven’t gone to AA as a result of being told I shouldn’t go as a practicing, lying addict.
    I am torn, I have great friends in AA, I don’t think I need to shake their hand an tell them I smoked pot 3 hrs earlier as part of general admission. I’m typing this in my phone, so sorry if there are typos.
    I feel good about me and my choice, it may be the wrong one… sure, but we never learn or explore without experience. I smoke pot, so kill me! Lmbo

  23. motoxgal250 says:

    Great comments! It’s great to learn others struggle as well with AA and pot. I have been alcohol free for 2 years, 9 months. I dated someone in the program (12 yrs) when I was new in sobriety. I started smoking weed one year ago and told him. He flipped a biscuit over it. Broke up with me, called all his friends in the program, called my former sponsor (his sister) and told her to contact me asap. He told me I failed my program. I shouldn’t come to AA while ‘using’, I am not supposed to share when called on, I shouldn’t take any more coins because I’m living a lie. I chose to not attend AA, although keep in contact with my AA friends via facebook. I believed what my former boyfriend told me about failing the program and what an embarrassment it would be, and how I would need a new sobriety date as I come clean to my home group. Gosh, needless to say, it was a huge struggle, but we did continue dating – with rules, I couldn’t smoke if he was going to come over, blah, blah, blah. I found through this experience, I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t accept me for me, whether they like it or not. I am not the dope smoking loser he professed me to be. I understand that many people believe this in the program, however aren’t so mean at saying so. I don’t feel I failed AA at all. I don’t feel like I failed me either.
    I’m a full time employed professional, I am taking college classes to obtain my degree in web design and get good grades. I feel like a rockstar, antidepressants and pot work for me. I am glad I don’t drink, I’d probably be in prison for a drunk driving accident by now… nope, I prefer this life for sure.

  24. Josh says:

    What a great article! Thank you to everyone who posted. I have tried AA at least 50 times and have always failed. I go through times of smoking weed and drinking and times of just drinking. Truth is I drink less when I smoke, but the drinking always leads to a binge and at 37 years old I have a feeling the negative health effects of alcohol are right around the corner. I need to get blood work done but I put it off. My wife is dead against smoking but drinks 6-8 beers a night so I’m trying to figure that one out because I’m ready to be done and get into AA and start smoking to alleviate the negative thoughts and ups and downs I have with this active brain of mine. As for those of you who have been judged by AA for smoking I say don’t even waste a thought on them. If you have to keep it to yourself it’s between you and God and God does not want you living in shame and guilt. My social life has been alcohol and I don’t like accountability or trusting people which is precisely why I need AA. For depression, anxiety, and irritability I need marijuana. At least for now. If God chooses to remove that at some point in my life so be it, I’m done judging myself for using it. My life is more normal and I feel better when I do. Now it’s time to trade in the booze for AA and use a medicine that helps me stay calm. Blessings to you all this has really helped me I was feeling lost and I laughed out loud for the first time in a long time. And after 5 years this has inspired me to return to AA. Thank you God. BTW, it totally blows me away people can judge a marijuana user but be on Wellbutrin, cimbalta, and Xanax. I tried Wellbutrin to stop drinking and ended up drinking on it and just about killed myself. If that had been marijuana and not Wellbutrin I would have probably ate something and went to sleep. 🙂

  25. Mark says:

    I am so glad that I do not suffer from the type of self-deception and delusions that most of you here seem to suffer from. Although I struggled to get sober like many of you, I never once thought that pot would be a solution for long term sobriety. It is absolutely absurd to think that each of you considers himself/herself sober while smoking pot. If I sounds like I think I am better than you, it is because I am. So, keep telling yourself that is okay to smoke weed for whatever reason you conjure up. I could care less.

  26. Craige says:

    Thank you to Mr W and Lanie, Mike and Micheal and all the others who are balancing. Sobriety with an inner conviction to use pot medically or otherwise.
    I was hoping people like me existed. You do!!! Being 10 years sober from alcohol, I found smoking pot a huge help in helping me with anxiety and benefit from that big list of pluses I read in Everyone’s message. I don’t feel alone. I need to find my tribe…

    I owe my life to AA but my life is NOT AA . I took a ten year chip recently. On the back it says ” to Thine Own Self Be True. “. That is what I feel inside. Now to go to the suggested locations you all noted above to connect.
    No one knows this about me but a few good friends who are not AAs. The AAs I know would condemn my act with judgements. Hiding from my husband is hard as well

  27. Gary says:

    Hey, if you want to smoke weed just do it. Get high. But please don’t give us these wussy excuses about how it is treating your anxiety or what not. You get high because you want to feel different and be high. Man, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun smoking weed and lying about it. Have some balls and embrace getting high for God’s sake.

  28. dave says:

    You seem like kind of a dick, Mark. What does it help your sobriety to judge others? What if some people are in early sobriety and don’t even see it as a long term solution, but something to deal with later after they do the important work of ceasing to drink alcohol, a drug that will KILL THEM. Cigarettes have killed plenty of people in their early 60s or younger, I don’t see how that’s much better than having alcohol cut 20 years from your life. If someone on 3 psych meds, a PRN script for Ativan, and a pack a day habit want to tell me that they’re sober and I’m not because I smoke a little pot at night, they’re the ones with the problem.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hello Lester,

    I am a fan and supporter of your views. Being new to this realm of
    thinking, it is enlightening to me.

    AA saved my life. AA is not my life.

    People in AA would condemn me and most likely abandon me. Currently I am in
    good standing , and sponsor lots of women .

    I have been smoking pot in secret for over two years. I was so afraid at
    first and only smoked once a month , late at night, by myself. The relief
    and flow of energy it gave me felt good. I don’t need to tell you how much
    better it made me feel. Now I smoke a few times a week and the anxiety
    relief it gives me is priceless.

    I thought I was alone.

    Your site and others like it have helped me live ” To thine own self be

    There is no desire for alcohol. In fact, less thoughts about it. It feels
    right for me.

    I am a 61 year old mother, grandmother, wife and all around good gal. Even
    though my name is male, I am a female.

    I have been sober for 26 years. 10 years ago I relapsed on alcohol for two
    weeks and alcohol did ignite the phenomena of craving. All I wanted was to
    drink more.

    I got my 10 year chip recently and it felt good. It did not feel dirty.

    Finding your site created an opening in my heart to want to connect with you
    and others like us.

    Thank you so much. Looking forward to more information and learning more.

    Thank you sir for daring to be heard.

    With love and light.

  30. Craige says:

    I agree with Dave 100%. I see the in congruency all the time around me.
    Since I am new to this I guess it will depend on how it goes
    I am curious and hope someone can respond.
    Is there any empirical evidence substantiating that a recovering alcoholic can use medical marijuana and not return to the bottle ? Like who here has any length of time practicing using pot with no ” phenomena of craving” for alcohol?
    I have two years of this practice now. Hope to connect with like minds.

  31. Jimmy T says:

    I’m glad to find this forum and thread. AA and the 12 Steps saved my life. I am 68 years old and took a 17 year token in AA a few months ago. I consider myself an alcoholic and narcotics addict. I didn’t drink much my last few years of using, mostly used heroin. I had not used marijuana in about 25 years.

    I carry lots of physical scars, multiple broken bones and wrenched joints and at my age have chronic pain and some movement issues. My doctor had me on vicodin for when the pain was too much, but it scared me to take it. The NSAIDs helped, but not so good for the body. I have been taking a half dose of Ambien for sleep.

    Two days ago I got a California Medical Marijuana card and that evening took a medible containing 20mg. It took an hour, but I got complete, I mean total, pain relief and went to sleep 4 hours later without a sleep aid. I felt great in the morning although the pain of course came back during the course of the day. Last night I took a measured 15mg, and got a great result again. I will try 10mg this evening.

    I’m not sure what to do about my AA involvement. I had brought this up with my sponsor and a few friends. I’ll tell them what’s happening and figure it out. I get a lot out of AA and would like to continue going.

  32. robin m says:

    I am 41/2 years sober, I don’t think I could have done this without the help of AA. I tried to get sponsors but living in the bible belt(new orleans) I have had a difficult time following “suggestions” Here the program is built on christianity. however I learned early on to take what I need out of AA and to leave the rest. Sobriety did not come easy for me. I was homeless and it frighten me that I didn’t mind being homeless at the age of 49 as long as I had a drink. Finally I left my husband, my closest friend, and was fortunate enough to get in to rehab.After 3 months my husband and I reconciled and now after 16 years of marriage have found a contentment and happiness I never dreamed possible. I crawled and sweat blood to achieve sobriety and words could never describe my gratitude. However I would never describe Bill W. as a model for sobriety the poor man was trapped in a loveless marriage denied the opportunity to live with the woman he truly loved, and died begging for a drink that the fanatics surrounding him refused. that being said I feel that AA while a must for the support needed to achieve sobriety, doesn’t follow it’s own teachings it refuses to be open,honest, or willing to accept the changing times. I have often told my friends in AA that they wouldn’t want to know me if I were not on mind-altering drugs. I am bipolar and suffer PTSD. I have watched too many people discontinue their meds for “God’s will” it’s sad and I can point people out who have taken this uneducated advice. The first 3 years of my sobriety I didn’t smoke weed, but I would tell new comers not to worry about weed unless they felt it was a problem. I feel that you are the only one who knows if you relapse. I started back smoking weed 11/2 years ago and haven’t found a problem, should I find it’s a problem down the line then I’ll be right where I need to be in AA. If someone disagrees with me I respect that but remind them that every chip I’ve earned states “TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE” I honestly believe when it comes to adults only you know what you need to do noone can stop you from taking that drink, at the end of the day you and you alone make that decision. I feel meetings good or bad even if it keeps you from taking that drink out of pure spite (which has worked for me) because someone in a meeting thinks your wrong it works. I don’t go to as many meetings as I did at first (20 a week) I believe I’ll always keep my foot in the door, even if its just to argue a point. So I will continue to smoke, go to meetings when I want and spread my message because there are so many ways to stay sober. If you keep going to meetings sooner or later you hear what you need to stay sober for one more day. Thank you so much for having somewhere to let that out.

  33. Craige says:

    I signed on as anonymous on May 5, but decide not to do that any longer.
    AA saved my life. AA is not my life. The tenants of AA , when followed , which I do believe in , state clearly about the relief of the obsession from alcohol. I have been
    Blessed with that.
    This site helped me. I recently revealed to my partner of 31 years that I smoke medical marijuana for the last two years. He did not understand my claiming sobriety but still smoking pot. After he settled down, I directed him to this site and he understood! Especially the missive from Mr W. The other letters you all have written helped too. Thank you.
    My choice makes me feel good . Like Robin , above said ” To thine own self be true.”
    I will remain active in my AA groups but will be silent on any medicines I use. This will include MM.
    I am glad I found this site. The one thing is to not feel alone. I feel connected .
    There is no shame. There is only my connection to my higher power . And it feels right.
    Thanks for anyone brave enough to connect here and share. I will not read any shaming or blaming shares. There are enough critics in the world.
    Everything has its place.
    To tag onto Jimmy and Robins share i do agree about still connecting with AA.
    I do know Bill Wilson was a man who used LSD his last five years to abate his growing depression. AA never mentions that. He did so much good for this planet, I would never knock him. He was a human after all.
    If we all could really follow the code of the twelve steps, it truly would be a beautiful world.
    I am a sober woman received from alcoholism. I smoke pot occasionally. No guilt . No shame. No blame.
    Love and Acceptance. Yeah.

  34. Adam says:

    “I was suddenly an observer to my crisis, not someone caught up in its drama. Though marijuana was often fun, I never took seriously the idea that it could have therapeutic use. I was amazed as, in minutes, it extinguished the whiny emotional pain infecting my mind, and gave me a larger view.”

    The thoughts expressed above are a big part of the reason why I chose to go back to using pot, while maintaining a total commitment to alcoholic sobriety.
    But as has been noted, discretion is the better part of valor.
    I recommend getting an older sponsor. They’ll be the first to tell you that AA is for alcoholism and if you have a problem with other issues, go to NA or CA or OA or SA, etc…
    To thine own self be true. Otherwise we get into people pleasing, which is more dangerous path, in my opinion.
    Good luck to all of you, even the small-minded contrarian that posted.

  35. Sherry says:

    So glad to find others like me. I am 46, female and have physically pounded my body with heavy lifting /work for 15 yrs. I drywall, roof, demo etc. I am 21 yrs sober this past April. Alcohol wrecked my life too and AA helped me save my life. I flourished in my sobriety except anxiety, depression and skin picking kept me feeling really sick. I started isolating and quit going to AA because my physical pain from work and mental health started to decline. I still practiced my steps everyday. 8 yrs in, my doctor convinced me that antideprssants were my answer. I rode that roller coaster and kept my doctor busy experimenting for the magic mental balance. I got so out of whack and desperate. I am so scared to even consider drink to this day because I have seen many friends and family die directly from alcohol since I got sober. I wont consider pain pills because I know I’ll abuse them. I take 1000 mg naproxen (Aleve) daily for my pain but it only knocks off the edge. Zoloft, then Celexa then wellbutrin then prozac. Enough already! Started smoking pot 15 yrs in. It was a guilty feeling at first but my depression, anxiety and skin picking were out of control. Pot balances my mental illnesses and alleviates most of my pain. I don’t want to be a hypocrit in AA so I don’t go. I still guide people to AA to try to help them save their own lives because it saved mine. I still practice my steps everyday. I still smoke daily and I have never been happier in my life. I still consider myself 21 yrs sober. I wish I had started smoking sooner. To thine own sell be true. Still fighting the good fight.

  36. soberwise says:

    This is a very important issue, we need to pull it out of the closet.

  37. malcolm says:

    As a long standing member of AA I have often found myself at odds with its perspective on Marijuana in particular and medications in general.
    When I first “got sober” I quickly realized that at least for the interim while my body and mind were recovering from twenty years of habitual alcohol usage I might need and little help. So I invented what I thought might be termed the poor mans speedball. Basically lots of ice mocha coffee and moderate amounts of pot. It sure helped.
    I believe complete and absolute sobriety to be a myth. The other thing I started doing when I “got sober” was running long distance. Ah, the runners high! Still makes me feel good.
    I think it is simply intelligent behavior to realize that everybody needs to get a little outside themselves now and then. That’s what the movies are for right? But an intelligent person surely can differentiate between a little healthy indulgence and getting wasted. I never even considered trying something like Heroin for the very reason that I know my type is not one for moderation with opiates. Pot certainly didn’t open that door.

    I think like any good thing, AA must grow and adapt in order to remain relevant. Otherwise it will remain stagnant and its appeal will fade .

    Thanks for the article and thanks for all the posts.

  38. Hank says:

    This was helpful, thank you. I came to AA 28 yrs ago and have not drank since. I have been a regular member throughout these years. I smoked cannabis for the first 3 months of AA. I felt that in order to have the awakening to overcome alcohol I should do what others had done. Stopping weed was more than highly recommended. I was willing to go to any length to get out from under the lash of Alcoholism so I stopped and adjusted my sobriety date. I never dreamed I would ever smoke again. After 25 yrs clean and sober I did smoke some and was immediately addicted. As I am to coffee and some other things. It’s my nature. At first I was completely freaked out. I loved it but 25 yrs is a long time in the AA culture. So after a year or two I tried to quit. I got a new white chip. Prostrated myself to my AA community. and quit for about a year. Then I started to question the whole business. I worked long and hard with a very good therapist on this. The shame, the need for approval, the deep seated old idea that smoking marijuana was a “sin.” AA is not a religion but that did not mean I could not turn it into one for me. My therapist said smoking cannabis in AA was akin to eating bacon in the temple. Long story short, it took about three years for me to realize that this is my life and if I’m not harming myself or others I can live my life as I choose. To thine own self be true. I have not once since my first year in AA craved a drink. As a matter of fact, my relationship with cannabis shows me I would be absolutely doomed if I ever take a drink. I feel deep, deep gratitude to AA for solving my alcohol problem which really did harm me and countless others. I feel the same way about extramarital sex for me. Harmful to me and others. So about mid afternoon after work I light up think about God and the meaning of my life and the journey of my soul, I listen to music, eat healthy food, walk, swim, read. I hope whoever reads this may find peace. I lost an old friend who just could not get sober in AA. He killed himself. I cannot help but wonder if smoking some weed might have eased his suffering.

  39. Billy says:

    Wow. I can’t believe I found this blog. Anyway, I quit drinking August 10, 2002 and haven’t had a drink since. I attended AA meetings and still do about 3-4 times a week. For the first 6 years I continued to smoke marijuana only. I called marijuana my “drug of choice” and “alcohol my drug of no choice.” and said I was still on a pink cloud but felt I wasn’t true to the program even though it was working for me.

    My friend said he did in the beginning but since it wasn’t really AA, he stopped smoking and doesn’t miss it. After 6 years i was feeling real guilty and figured I wasn’t a real AAer so despite not seeing any destruction, I again felt it was time. I said tell me something to convince me. He said, well, for him continuing to smoke marijuana was like “Groundhog Day.” That made sense to me and after attempting to quit a few times and not being able to I decided I needed to and on my 6th alcoholic sobriety date, Aug 10th, 2008, I quit smoking pot, too.

    I reset my sobriety year and came clean at meetings. I had taken only a first year cake for alcohol since I felt it was a huge accomplishment but didn’t take 2-6. At first there were demonstrated signs of progress in personal and professional things with greater clarity. Keep in mind, I was smoking multiple times daily. And if I had some I smoked it even when I didn’t need more so saw it as a problem.

    I am now 4 days from my 12/6 day as I am calling it. And I have now 6 years without pot and 12 without alcohol and generally feel good but not setting the world on fire. I have seen the initial progress diminish and as a writer, I was under the perhaps misconception that pot made me more creative. But as an alcoholic and former user I also feel there is an edge which I would just like to relieve sometimes. I live in California and it is very nearly legal now, too.

    Plus, my son is the age I started smoking, in 1969, and he is enjoying a few beers but really liking smoking pot. I have another friend who struggled with quitting drinking and has finally almost got a year but has continued smoking pot. I guess I am in pre-lapse mode and plan on smoking pot after my sobriety date, Aug 10, to see. Now with 6 years under my belt without weed I know I can quit it but I am really wondering why.

    I want to share the experience with my son since I can’t drink with him for fear of getting out of control but maybe I can smoke pot. I will post a blog down the line. But, thank you, thank you for expressing a sobering picture of pot. It is indeed an issue for many of us who are really convinced they had to quit drinking and succeed through AA but feel like outcasts keeping our pot smoking a secret when maybe we should be sharing it. Maybe a little weed will help some of those who would go out and do hard drugs and start drinking again instead of some healthy marijuana maintenance.

    Keep on trudgin’ Billy

  40. itsafinday says:

    This such a relief to read these entries of addicts and alcoholics that used/drank as I did. Today I have 7 years clean… I still suffer from bouts of depression/ anxiety, insomnia for over a year and currently chronic nausea that my Dr’s can’t seem to pin point. Maybe its all stress related but nonetheless it sucks and Id rather try something less chemical and natural. I already incorporate meditation, exercise and acupuncture but it still lingers.

    I do not agree well with antidepressants, I have tried several and on top of feeling like I am on a bad trip I am not willing to gain 40lbs and/or kill my sex drive. Both would throw me further off the ledge.

    At 6 years clean I was suffering from such severe panic and anxiety that it was affecting me as a mother and employee. I could barely hold it together. I was prescribed xanax. I dont abuse it or obsess about it but I hate that when i first stared taking it I found I didn’t need as much in the beginning and experienced mild but uncomfortable withdrawal… I was not having that I hated that my body can so easily become addicted to this type of med. Esp for someone “in recovery”. Not to mention that the mood stabilizer I take will cause me to go into seizures if I quit taking it.

    The fact that I wasn’t obsessing about this highly deadly and addictive drug made me contemplate why I couldn’t successfully smoke pot. Contrary to what they preach in NA, that no matter what the substance your body does not know the difference from wether the drug came from a dr or a dealer it will set of the mental obsession off and well, you’re fucked.

    This being said and after seeing my acupuncturist for anxiety/stress several times she suggested pot. I of course being an NA’er for almost 7 years was terrified of the idea. But I never OD’d on pot or went down to the ghetto to buy crack when I was stoned. I also suffer from a bit of social anxiety and find myself not doing much socializing or when i am out I start thinking a drink would ease of the angst. But that I know would drive me to the harder drugs.

    I even started smoking cigarettes again just for a release and its disguting. The reason I picked up smoking was because I kept thinking of smoking pot but didn’t want to “ruin my recovery” and lose all the beauty I have in my life today given to me through learning a new way to live because of NA. However I can’t see myself living the rest of my life in the microcosm of the rooms, the thought suffocates me. How can one truly expand themselves if they are terrified to explore other options or belief systems.

    I am a single mom and when I was 64 days clean my son found his father dead of an overdose. I have suffered a lot of trauma and loss in my using years and in recovery. I would never want to do something that would lead me back to that lifestyle. My son and I have a beautiful life today. But my responsibilities (all though I am grateful for all of them) can get very overwhelming and it would be nice to reach for a bowl instead of a benzo to sleep or just relax when shit just gets to be too much. Of course I would be ostracized if my fellow members knew but most would already consider me using because of the xanax.

    I hate that I have this belief that I can’t trust myself because “my thinking is sick”. I honestly dont think that my choice to incorporate pot back into my lifestyle is going to take my beautiful life away.

    Funny how I have read several times in here “to thine own self be true”. I had a girlfriend recently, who is no longer in the rooms who does smoke pot say to me ” you have to do whats best for you”

    Thanks for reading

  41. scottyb says:

    I want to start a cannabis AA meeting. I have been sober 24 of the last 26 years. I smoked weed for 20 of them.
    Some people can smoke and not drink. I am one of them. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop DRINKING

  42. Rotcod says:

    I dont need to medicate my reality, If im in pain i go to a dr, he will proscribe the appropriate medication and i will take it as directed! my friend sober in AA many years started taking it for pain two years ago (apparently) and now he’s using it socially outside the AA circle! Mmm not a good choice as his negativity levels have soared and he is angry as hell,

  43. Amerikantix says:

    I don’t think anyone will read this far BUT. A 12 step medicinal marijuana group would be great if it wasnt based on cultlike membership. AA is like an organized religion, pot seems to be more in line with Eastern philosophy and higher consciousness. A MM group should be open and non dogmatic.

  44. JJ says:

    I am 60 yrs old, twenty years in AA, a year ago picked up edibles. I thank God for the awakened consciousness. Yet it is a secret and could be very costly. Still, the heightened state of reality (not the sedated state alcohol and narcotics provide) I don’t like the secret, it hurts, but it beats the depression (though I take zoloft) and anxiety. I do wonder if this is some kind of spiritual risk or leap, not sure which, but Spirit is worth the chance. Thanks for the affinity and kinship.
    Please keep the thread going. Still looking for answers

  45. Anonymously says:

    Well, I was a heavy drinker for the last 20 or so years. I always assumed I’d get tired of it and just stop. Got into my late 40’s and still enjoyed drinking just as much if not more then I did all those years ago. Fortunately I live in a State that legalized marijuana. 2 weeks ago I made the switch. Wow, I wish I did this years ago. I feel great and lost my interest in drinking. I know it’s only 2 weeks but so far so good.

  46. HS says:

    Such a great website and wonderful posts, it is good to know I am not alone. I am in my 40’s with a wonderful family, good job, and much else to be thankful. Ever since college I was a regular drinker, sometimes more heavily than other times, but never considered it to be a problem. But several years ago it caught up to me. Blacking out, waking up without memory of the night before, falling in public. It got ugly fast and my wife finally gave me an ultimatum – fix the drinking, or lose my family. I quit drinking that night and went cold turkey for 3 months, with the help of AA, a doctor, and you guessed right, the kind herb. After attending AA meetings, I realized I was not an alcoholic, but instead had heavy drinking problem that could be moderated. With the help of herb, I am now able to moderate my drinking to where it is no longer an issue. It is a difficult balancing act – in fact I recently had some incidents – and for me hard alcohol is where I get into trouble. When I enjoy a good beer and maybe glass or two of wine, and a small puff, I am able to de-stress and enjoy without all the issues of excess. I believe everything in life should be taken in moderation. Whether drink, exercise, smoking, caffeine, eating, or work – if you do too much of anything it’s bad for you in some way or another. For those who are alcoholics, I think mariuana maintenance is a good option. Whether one is stressed, anxious, it is fine but like everything in moderation. Remember to be true to yourself. Good luck to all.

  47. Tanya says:

    Thank you, just thank you for being able to say exactly what I needed to hear. My whole life I felt guilty for doing something that someone else did not agree with to some degree or another. and that is probably why I chose to drink. Alcohol almost killed me and I had to do some major soul searching through the twelve steps of AA.

    I have been sober almost 3 years now and have always felt as if marijuana was great natural resource for so many aliments. Now that it has been legalized in my state, I have used it a few times and find a sense of peace, contentment and happiness that no meditation or prayer has ever been able to give me. I have been honest with my sponsor, sponsees and people in the AA rooms. I did not recieve the warm welcome one might have expected, however I choose to work on honest AA program and it involves marijuana occasionally. I choose to not drink myself to death and smoke pot every once and awhile. I love my life and if other people want to make a big deal over it, I tell them to stay in their hula hoop (mind their business) and they were the ones that asked for me to work an honest program. Its the lies and the secrets that cause people to relapse, not the marijuana. In my research to find acceptance for this practice of being an alcoholic in recovery that uses marijuana legally, I found his article about Recovering from Drug Addication Without Abstinence.
    “The whole world of addiction is a very black-and-white, clean-and-dirty world. My effort in hoping to have a more inclusive definition of recovery means that we start to take the world of addiction out of black and white and define a gray area, where most of life exists.”
    I am not perfect and choose to live in the grey area by working an AA program and medicating with marijuana that is a legal. It works for me and don”t feel bad or guilty if it works for you too.
    P.S. I would love to find that Facebook group, but it must be set to private. Let me know if I should start a new one.

  48. Soule says:

    I had my last drink in September 2011. 3 years prior to that my life had become completely unmanageable, as my ACL replacement surgery and the Percocets prescribed triggered my acute addiction which led from pills, to binge drinking and then to crack cocaine. I was forced to rehab and that first year saw 5 rehab trips. Each rehab trip built on the last, and finally with that last rehab I was willing to do anything. I did 100 plus meetings in 90 days, and became very active in AA.

    I finally got my sea legs in recovery. I made a number of choices in early sobriety to protect myself. The biggest choice was to avoid any social drinking event. Years later my choice to isolate myself was breaking my marriage. My wife was considering to pull our kids from school (I married my high school sweetheart and we made it through my acute addiction with 2 young children). As I explored her motivations for pulling the kids it was clear to me it was a direct result of my choices to socially isolate. She was feeling ostracized by the school community because we had basically isolated from that community to protect my sobriety (yes, my kids school has the crab feeds and the auctions and festivals that are all drunkfests).

    Here I was, sober and stuck. My marriage struggling because my isolation had leaked from social to total. I was not happy. I was coming home from work and isolating with video games or books.

    I made the choice at that point to explore medical marijuana. That was 4 months ago. I don’t smoke, I eat. One bar at the end of the workday typically (early afternoon or evening in the weekend). It has had a profound impact in the last 4 months. I am happier, less isolated, excited about the day. I feel joyous, happy and free.

    All of the addictive mechanisms I was used to from my drugs of choice (pills, booze, coke) were not present. The ritual? I eat one candy bar. I don’t use a pipe, I don’t pass it to others. There doesn’t feel like a ritual aspect that was such an insidious part of my acute addiction experience. The desire for more? I don’t eat my candy bar and want another right after. In fact the head change from the candy bar comes 45 mins to 2 hours later. Everything about my relationship with MM feels different from my relationship with other drugs (to include the suboxone I have been taking for the last 5 years, which is accepted by the recovery community, but to me is more like the addictive drugs I prefer than MM in that there is an instant impact and I do want another after I take the first).

    I made the choice to use MM at a difficult time to help me break unhealthy patterns. In my opinion it worked. It helped me break the pattern, and did not trigger for me any of the addictive mechanisms that took me out in the past.

    I am now evaluating what’s next, but thankful to have found this post.

  49. J. Michael says:

    I am so grateful for this discussion. I quit drinking and smoking cigarettes July 1, 2013.
    I was a functional (less and less functional over the years) alcoholic for 30 years. I was a nurse and wife and mother of 2. I don’t remember big chunks of it. I quit working after I had to retire to take care of my husband with early onset alzheimer’s when I was 47. The whole year of 2012, well, I don’t remember most of it. When I could see the signs of liver failure, I got scared and quit. I started yoga and that really helped but, I lost way too much weight. Apparently wine is very caloric and I wasn’t replacing nearly enough calories with food. I started smoking pot regularly about 6 months after I quit drinking.

    Once I found the right pot, it has been a god send! I never lose patience with my husband and he usually takes a puff with me in the evening which completely calms his sundown sydrome (dementia patients most generally experience increased agitation and confusion in the evening). This has made our evening routine way less dramatic.

    As for my alcoholism. It can bite me. I will never go back to that sad existence. It was difficult at first with social situations, but now I don’t really care. I feel great, I am not sick every morning. My husband and I are enjoying early retirement and have made a conscience decision to take our journey on a path we create, not one thrust upon us. (someone else said that, the part about the journey and the path, but I thought it was cool).

    I don’t know how this works for everyone else, but it works for me. I never went to AA. Other people trying to guide my life in this direction or that, makes me want to walk away from them, or if I can’t, then to drink. So I knew that wouldn’t work. Also, that is the same reason counselling always seems too much like someone trying to manipulate me.

    But pot helped me get a handle on my life and gave me control and well being. Anxiety over what people thought, and always trying to be the smartest, the prettiest, the one with the best figure, best job, coolest art, books etc. was just fluff and bulls##t. Drinking to lubricate the intensity was killing me. Pot allows me to back off, and STOP and enjoy for a hour or so. When I wake up I am alert and ready to enjoy the day. And I think, see things from a wider angle. Instead of just waking up sick trying to put mascara on swollen eyes.

    I thought I was the only one until about 2 weeks ago when I met someone who smoked because he was hooked on benzo’s from the VA for PTSD. Now he’s benzo free and also quit drinking.

    We all need to keep telling our story so more people can quit drinking. That stuff will kill you dead.

    Maybe AA needs an adjunct organization for a-religious people of the boomer generation. Maybe that should be the logical progression. Does anyone know a community organizer type person to spear head such an endeavor?

  50. olys says:

    What a great site! I will definitely have to come back to it when I have more time, and read all the posts. But from what I read, I’m sure I will find a lot of kindred spirits here. But until then, I would really appreciate it if anyone who is aware of any organization of people that don’t find cannabis use inconsistent with a full life in recovery (especially on Maui) I would love to hear from them. I have painful neuropathy due to my drinking that marijuana has been recognized by the AMA as being effective for this. Besides that, I enjoy it, and to me it’s part of being happy joyous and free. I will check for new posts.

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