From Life With Hope Our Stories pages 165 to 168
I am a marijuana addict. Sometimes it seems like an
MA meeting is the only place where people are not amused
by that statement. Many people see marijuana as a harmless
drug, with no serious side effects. They should have
seen me in my first year of sobriety. When I stopped
smoking pot, I started feeling again — emotionally and
physically. I felt like an abscessed tooth with cold water
being poured on it. Withdrawal was painful, uncomfortable,
and unpleasant. I found the reality of hitting bottom
after I stopped smoking weed. What started out as harmless,
recreational pot smoking literally turned into a refuge from
pain and reality — the pain in my life and the reality of
everyday living.

When I began smoking pot, it was part of a larger
experience occurring at the time: Civil Rights, the Vietnam
War, hippies and flower power, free sex, turn on, tune in,
and drop out. Smoking pot was the politically correct thing
to do. It seemed so right at the time. Smoking pot was a
way of declaring my independence and establishing an
identity. While many of my friends stopped smoking
marijuana and went on with their lives, marijuana became
the focal point of my life. As a practicing addict, the word
“stoned” echoed and reverberated through my head for two
decades. It took me twenty years to figure out marijuana
did not ease my pain; it just stuffed it deep down inside me.

Sobriety opened a Pandora’s Box of emotions.
I did not start out a full-blown addict. It took time,
although not very long. I courted other drugs, but
marijuana was my steady long after I quit indulging in other
drugs, including alcohol. My experience tells me that
whenever I start using I have no idea when I will stop. I am
not a person who can smoke a joint today and wait six
months before I smoke another one. It does not work that
way for me. I am never satisfied, whether I smoke one
joint, or one million joints.

I started participating in outpatient drug programs.
The hospital drug program I attended required participation
in at least one twelve-step meeting per week relating
to your drug(s) of choice. I did exactly the required
minimum. I felt skeptical in the meetings and thought the
people there had bigger problems with drugs than I did. I
would stay sober for short periods of time, then go back
out to do further research. This went on for several years.
Each time I went out, I found myself increasingly powerless
over pot and my life more unmanageable. My addiction
kept me in a state of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
During this period of time, I met a fellow marijuana
addict in the same hospital program I attended. Mind you,
this was my fourth attempt at trying to stay sober. He gave
me a card that read: “Welcome my friend and a friend you
must be, for letting me help you also helps me. Yes I’ve
had a problem so you’re not alone. If you care to discuss it,
just pick up the phone.” On the card was his name and
telephone number. I thought, “This guy can’t be for real.
This is a joke.” What I considered a joke at the time turned
out to be a lifesaver for me. Despite my feelings, I kept the
card. When I reached the point where I could no longer
struggle with the problem alone I called the number. He
started taking me to meetings and helped me understand I
could live my life free of marijuana one day at a time. We
went to meetings of what was then called Marijuana
Smokers Anonymous (MSA). Most of the meetings were
small. A meeting of ten people seemed large to me. They
gave out dark green chips with MSA printed in bold black
lettering for different periods of sobriety. I met a variety of
people at the meetings. I discovered addiction was an equal
opportunity disease. It does not discriminate against
anyone; it welcomes everyone equally without regard to
race, nationality, religion, education, and economic level;
it includes men, women, adolescents, and children.

In my early days of sobriety, the key for me was
found on page 59 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. “Half
measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.
We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”
Half measures availed me nothing. My experience taught
me that lesson. Until I was able to fully admit I had a
problem with marijuana and life in general, this program
did not work for me. I learned recovery provides a solution
to my living problem. The Step exercises I did with
direction from my sponsors enabled me to enhance and
significantly improve my life. The Steps offered me an
opportunity to deal with the wrongs I perpetrated during
my drug using days and helped me to start looking at the
behaviors creating the insanity in my life. Insanity for me,
like many other addicts, is doing the same thing over and
over again while expecting different results. Today I choose,
for the most part, not to live in the problem. Instead, I
prefer to find a solution in order to live a more sane, happy
life. The Steps are tools I can apply on a daily basis to deal
with the emotional conflicts inevitably arising in my life.
Today, I am increasingly willing to accept responsibility
for my life. I am grateful to the many people over
the years who have participated and are participating in my
recovery. I always had a life. Thanks to Marijuana
Anonymous, I now have a life worth living.