Keep Coming Back,
It Works If you Work It,
So Work It You're Worth It.
Live It ! Love It ! Don't Use !
Marijuana Anonymous saved me from a life of active marijuana addiction. A life of isolation, depression, obsession, self-hate, suicidal thoughts and fear. Through the help of MA, my sponsor and my fellows, I have been shown a new way to live that is infinitely better for me. Through MA, I am now better able to live life on life’s terms. I have achieved levels of peace and serenity I could have never experienced in active addition. My spirituality, relationships, health, finances and work performance have all improved significantly and I am now truly grateful for the life I have. Marijuana no longer controls my thoughts and actions. It is no longer the crutch I need to handle the ups and downs that come along with life. I have been taught a new set of skills which allow me to lead a much more wholesome and fulfilling life. I am truly grateful for this program and the people in it.
While I was smoking marijuana I had a lot of friends that would smoke with me, go out drinking with me. Often that is what I was doing with my time, smoking and drinking. Smoking all the time and drinking sometimes. I always had a vision of showing up to events for my friends, pick up garbage and get more involved with helping the environment, practicing yoga consistently, doing activities soberly and sometimes I would but I kept finding myself choosing weed and alcohol over these things unless they involved weed and alcohol. I was frustrated with my life and because I used weed to deal with my feelings anytime I tried to quit I ended up unhinged emotionally. I had no tools to express them in a healthy way. There is a pattern of me in my life taking out my regrets, resentments, angers, fears, sadness’ about the life I was living on the people around me; boyfriends, friends, family; blaming them for my situation. I had no idea that I had put myself there. In my mind I was a good friend, honest, loving, giving. In reality I would often lie when it suited me, something small about my intention for being loving and giving, or calling into work to say I’m sick or to reschedule a meeting when I dropped the ball or got high instead of prioritizing my job. By the end I started leaving events early to go home and get high, I started avoiding calls and getting back to people when I felt like it, more and more I made mistakes at work. I started smoking alone since I had isolated myself from the people around me.
Today, I answer the phone or I send a message to say when I will be able to reply. I am honest! i really am. I am in touch with my feelings, in fact I have a practice to make sure that I am; yoga, prayer, meditation, sometimes I journal, talk to myself, call trusted friends and family when difficult times come up. I’m still learning to reach out when I’m having a hard time, and it is getting easier. Today, I am involved in all sorts of sober activities! I changed my career in the last year and a half to a yoga teacher to help others, but also to help myself! I find I need time to myself, to go on walks in nature, to take a bath, to read, practice yoga and meditate. I make sure I eat healthy, I have a strict bed time, I like to exercise; these are all habits that I do consistently because without them I don’t feel balanced. I am on top of my finances (although I would like to be earning more haha) and I am working towards increasing my income with my yoga career.
The relationships with my family members and friends are very different. Old ones have shifted into a more reciprocal and honest relationships. New ones are based off of respecting boundaries and giving without expecting anything in return. It’s challenging but I bring up the things that are bothering me instead of sitting on them and forming resentments.
Often you will catch me on a meeting because connecting with the people that helped me to become sober and that understand me is important in my life. I make time for the things that are important.
Of course I am not doing any of this perfectly, sometimes I have a week where I feel like I haven’t progressed at all. But soberly I look at my life and change what it needed. I used to do the same thing again and again so frustrated that it wouldn’t work out the way I planned, seems absolutely insane now. I change things again and again to keep myself as often as I can in a serene state. I keep coming back and doing the work.
I show up for my friends and loved ones. I try to be an active participant in their lives and not hold little things over their heads. I love and respect them, their boundaries, their views, I’m here to enjoy my time with them and help anyway I can. What really helps with all of this is that I pray to my higher power to help me with these things everyday!
Recovery has given me an honest life, I am proud of who I am, I can trust myself. Many things, people, places, are the same, but I am approaching them differently and because of that they’re completely different. A depth to my life has been shown to me that I was completely missing while smoking and drinking. And it keeps getting deeper! i had no idea how much I was missing before. I’m paying attention now 🙂 I am very grateful.
During my many years of active addiction, the person the world around me saw was Jekyll, and the person who was powerless over marijuana was Hyde (or maybe I should call that person “Hide” since this is how I lived). In my isolated, disconnected world of smoking pot 7/24/365, it was my ultimate boss. Everything I planned, every decision I made, everything I did was secondary to my pot usage. I was literally chained to it. I was in constant denial of my addiction, convincing myself that it was OK to live like this - yea right, to live a life of utter insanity, where it was OK to lie and deceive my spouse, the person I loved most, OK to steal money and time from my family and from work, to drive high and take risks that could have landed me in jail or gotten me fired. The list goes on. Whenever I’d get the guilts about being a pothead, and started entertaining thoughts of quitting “once and for all”, I’d then try to imagine a life without pot, and major feelings of anxiety would kick in and I’d revert to putting off quitting for a time “when I’m ready”.
Thankfully I became ready when I was faced with making a major life decision, and finally asked for help. I went to my first MA meeting, all the while feeling scared and terrified. It didn’t take me long though to realize that the meeting and MA fellowship was a safe space, with the concept of anonymity being at its core. The block of ice I’d formed around me began to melt, and I knew early on that I was with people who knew EXACTLY what I was going through. I was finally able to be honest with myself, able to identify myself by name as a marijuana addict in front of other people. It was so freeing. I listened to people’s shares and thought “I want what these people have”. I was blown away by how total strangers reached out their hand to me, gave me their phone #, and showed me through their actions that they cared about me, and loved me. I became teachable, learned to say yes, and started doing the things they said I should do - like getting a home group, a sponsor, working the steps, being of service, and I kept coming back.
Today, I live a good, honest and happy life, and I no longer look over my shoulder waiting to be caught out on my addiction or my lies. I no longer dwell on the past (like my sponsor always says “Buddy, it’s in the past”), or worry about the future. Recovery takes work. It’s a practical program of action, of doing the next right thing, of living in the present moment, and taking it one day at a time. I know I am - and always will be - an addict, and that I need to practice my program of recovery daily, and that it’s contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. No room for complacency, for ego, for resting on laurels - I have accepted the fact that I will be doing this for the rest of my life. I am truly blessed to have experienced the miracle of recovery, and I owe it all to the fellowship of MA and to the care I receive from my higher power. “Thy will be done”.
I grew up being bullied a lot in Elementary school and it wasn't until I moved schools in Grade 7 at the age of 12 that I smoked for the first time. I was the new kid in school but instantly became the cool kid by hanging out with the stoners. Within a year I was smoking everyday after school. Things took a slight turn for the worse when I got my heart broken for the first time because I was seen crying at school. From that day forward I vowed to myself that I would never be seen in public showing any emotions aside from happy or angry. By the time a started in high school I was already wake and baking and didn't have any trouble making friends. I had my issues but at this point things where still great, I mostly smoked with others and was quite the ladies man, or so I thought. Very quickly I began smoking multiple times throughout the day since I thought everything was better high.
Fast forward to the end of high school when I met my current girlfriend Sam. I instantly fell head over heels and up till this point I always said I could stop smoking whenever I wanted to but just didn't want to. Of course, she challenged me on this and I failed miserably! This is when the lying and the cheating began. Fast forward another 5 years, 2 times cheating, and more lies then I could keep up with, and I'm getting really close to my bottom. I spend every day filled with guilt, shame, and because of that promise I made to myself as a kid all I could show was anger. I spend 90% of my days trying to smoke away these feelings and it just led to more guilt and regret. How Sam put up with me for so long it is beyond me but she had finally had enough and left me. I became even more depresses, isolated, and attempted to take my own life twice.
Somehow I managed to convince Sam to take me back, promising I would get help and stop smoking. But it didn't work because I was doing it for her. I went to CAMH, addictions counselling and a psychologist. The lying, getting caught, and feeling guilty continue for another year until I finally had enough and called Addiction Rehab Toronto for help and was able to go to their inpatient program that same week.
Those were the best 30 days of my life. Although I was the only one their for pot, I finally felt like I was in a room of people where every single person there understood the struggles of addiction. The emotions withdrawals for me where horrible and I cried like a baby for a week. But for the first time in my life I was able to process my emotions, the events in my life, and begin to work past them.
My counselor inside matched me up with someone from the Tuesday Life with Hope MA groups and I couldn't be more grateful. That feeling of belonging multiplied by a million in these MA rooms. At first I kinda hid in the back but I was going to meetings daily, working the steps with my sponsor, and my whole life was turning around. About 3 months sober I started doing service, getting more involved with the meetings, and now I am starting to get more involved on the District level. Next step, MA world services here I come. Today, on October 1st, 2021 I am 1 year, 2 months, and 15 days sober. Saying that still blows my mind because I couldn't get 1 hour let alone 1 year without smoking up.
I now have a great job, me and Sam are still together since I am finally being honest, and I am enjoying life no longer going against my core values. I have also realized that not matter what happens, even during the hardest days, I can get through it sober and using would only make it worse.
I was born to parents that had very strong opinions on using drugs or alcohol, and because of this strong messaging about substances, I can barely remember how I felt about them, or when I went from “I will never try drugs” to “I’ll draw the line at crack”. I was 15 years old when I was invited to smoke weed at lunch with a classmate. As someone quite unpopular with very few friends, I was flattered to have been offered and accepted without hesitation. The next few years of high school I dabbled in this image of myself as a stoner, keeping it occasional, and being everyone’s fun friend that brought it out on the weekend. I would become a nightly user when I left home for university, and a daily user when I moved to Toronto, enrolled in an extremely stressful graduate program, and became unable to function without getting high first.
When I finally snapped, I landed in the psych ward for a month with mania and psychosis. After being released, I moved home and quit for a while. But it wasn’t long before I started back again, and things had somehow gotten worse. This was prime time for the illusion of functionality to take effect – I was working a steady job, making good money, all while getting high on a daily basis. I truly thought my life was manageable, even though my marijuana use was completely beyond my control. It wasn’t long before I landed myself back in the hospital with another manic psychosis.
Following the second hospitalization, I was actually able to maintain a year or so of total abstinence from weed. Eventually, as the world had changed since my using days with legalization, I eventually discovered that they sold weed that only contained CBD and not THC at dispensaries. However it wasn’t long before I was back to my previous habits. I went on to enroll back in school for mental health and addictions, and as everything was online, it became too easy for me to just go to class in my room and smoke at the same time. The whole time I felt like a gigantic hypocrite – wanting to help other people with their addiction issues but still being fully consumed by my own. Eventually my family had enough, and they started laying on threats about kicking me out.
I had heard of MA at a few points in my life, but I never thought it was something I needed to consider as I “didn’t have a problem”. However, I became so desperate that I was willing to try anything. I went to my first meeting, got my first sponsor and have maintained sobriety from marijuana ever since.
In terms of how things are now, I finished off my school program on the honour role, and I just secured my dream job as a peer support worker for an early psychosis intervention program. I wake up early, and without the grogginess of post-high in the morning, I enjoy the quietness of my house and do the crossword puzzle from the newspaper. I don’t drive and get paranoid about being pulled over for doing something illegal (except for speeding). And my family isn’t constantly on edge that I’m going to burst into psychosis at any given moment.
Coming into MA and calling myself an addict was something I was always terrified of doing, because it meant I actually had a problem. I felt truly hopeless that I could ever give up weed on a more permanent basis, and lead a happy and fulfilling life without it. When I consider just how hopeless I was in the depths of my addiction, and how joining MA turned that into hopefulness, I am nothing but grateful to be where I am today.
Hello, I’m a marijuana addict.
I will always be a marijuana addict, even if I haven’t smoked for over 2 years. When I was growing up I was a happy-go-lucky kid. I had two close friends on my street and we terrorized the neighbourhood on our big wheels. My one friend’s folks had a swimming pool and a basketball net. We played street hockey and there was a nearby park where we used to play catch in the summer and go tobogganing in the winter. I had a normal enough time in elementary school, continuing to play sports and doing decently in my classes. I did have a real problem being able to concentrate for long periods of time which leads me to believe I might have had ADD or ADHD, but life was still pretty good.
In junior high I started to get interested in girls; I became the singer in a rock band and I found weed. I remember the day I met my buddy and later to be best friend, who would eventually introduce me to MA. He was wearing a Flyers jersey and I was thinking who the hell is this guy in the Flyers jersey? Anyway, we became friends. At the time his best friend was a guy who lived on my street. We were cool because we smoked weed. I loved the high right off the bat. My friend’s sister said she doesn’t like the feeling of not being in control; well I loved it! It soon became a daily habit.
As I transitioned into high school I was a pothead for sure. It was my identity! I grew my hair long, wore a biker jacket or lumber jacket, depending on the weather. I had two pairs of Doc Marten boots, one eight hole pair in green and another pair fourteen hole in blue. It was the nineties man. Grunge was huge! I was raised listening to classic rock and 80’s music. But Grunge and Hip Hop was my generation’s thing. In grades 9 and 10 I was able to keep fairly good marks, but in grade 11 everything changed. I started skipping classes and continued to hang out with the cool crowd. When I say cool, I mean the stoners. I would spend my days with my buddies under a bridge either smoking doobies or brewing t’s (bottle tokes). My typical day was to smoke a joint in a park on the way to school, skip class all day and smoke in the ravine, come home and smoke in the backyard or in my parent’s unfinished basement. I loved that basement! My Mom and I would smoke cigarettes down there. I had a few jars of weed stashed around the room she didn’t know about. The weekends saw copious amounts of weed being smoked at park parties, house parties and in stairwells. We drank and did other drugs, but in those days weed was the most important. It was my D.O.C. (Drug of Choice)
Before too long I was selling it. I started with selling dimes and grams here and there, and was soon selling half quarters and quarters. I had friends around me who were natural salesmen. My best friend’s younger brother was one of those who could turn a tidy profit. They could sell weed and make good money at it. I couldn’t. The weed I sold barely covered the cost of me smoking it. I would sell enough to break even and I’d smoke the rest. All my friends were people associated with pot. To be my friend you had to buy, smoke or sell weed; or a combination of the three. Every day looked the same. Sometimes though, we’d go to see live music. Eventually and surprisingly, I graduated high school; “High” school was right. I barely graduated. I pulled a 52% at Grade 10 Spanish at night school. I think my teacher gave me a 52% pass, because she felt sorry for me.
Because my grades were really bad and I was puffing ganja all day, I never even applied for post-secondary school. At the time, I developed what was diagnosed as drug induced psychosis. Eventually, I was hospitalized and spent 3 months on the psych unit with no drugs or no booze. It was the first time in years that I wasn’t smoking all day - not smoking at all! Even though I was not smoking weed the psychosis didn’t go away, and I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I was hearing voices, having paranoia, having religious delusions, believing that I was the devil, Jesus, or a prophet, depending on the day. There were a bunch of characters in the psych ward. It wasn’t that bad. There was a ping pong table, a TV and a room for smoking cigarettes that I called the “death” room, because I’d already quit. I was so messed up that it’s like I forgot to get back to smoking weed. I found the Lord and started to be a believer! Without the knowledge of the program of Marijuana Anonymous I had done my first three steps. Step 1- admitted I was powerless over marijuana and that my life had become unmanageable. Step 2- came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. And finally, Step 3- made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood God.
I gave up marijuana and other drugs for years of my life. The only substance I continued to ingest was alcohol. Of course I was on antipsychotic drugs which some people may consider to be a mind and mood altering substance. But, it kept the psychosis at bay for the most part. So without a post-secondary education I was forced to work minimum wage jobs. I call them “Joe” jobs. Luckily, I eventually found a job as a peer support worker, someone who works in mental health with lived experience rather than a diploma or degree. My first job as a peer support worker was working with folks who’ve experienced their “first break”, their first experience with psychosis. I worked there for eight years running peer groups and billiards tourneys. After that I worked downtown teaching life skills classes to homeless people for three years.
For several years I was able to abstain from weed. But eventually that insidious weed came back. I started to put in late nights at the pub and find myself surrounded by potheads. There was a guy I grew up with who lived in a house right up the street from me. Most days of the week it was a party house! People coming in and out all times, women coming in and out, hip hop blaring, joints being rolled and passed around. People would party to the early morn. But, when I smoked there it wasn’t as much fun as it used to be back in the day. I had a lot of good times in the nineties. Now, because of the psychosis it’s not fun anymore. I get “sick in the head” when I smoke now. Why torture myself over and over again? I guess it’s because I remember the good old days. Maybe they’ll come back? I’ve had to admit that they won’t come back. I wasn’t smoking everyday like the good old days, but it was a problem.
On March 17th 2018, St. Paddy’s Day, I ingested weed for the last time. I was plastered, it was Paddy’s Day and I took a cookie from a buddy. I asked, “how much I should eat”? He said, “about half.” So I ate half at the pub and ended up at the party house. I tried to give the other half away. No one took it, so I ate it. That mixed with the alcohol sent me “praying to the white porcelain God” that night and I haven’t touched weed since. My best friend who I mentioned earlier, brought me to the Sunday night Kensington Group of Marijuana Anonymous. It was the second time I’d been at a meeting and I felt at home right away. The first meeting I’d been to was of another 12 Step fellowship. There were so many people there I was so overwhelmed and it took me a couple years to come to my first MA meeting. But this first MA meeting was much smaller. I think there were no more than ten people. I was comfortable and it became my home group and I went there faithfully every Sunday, even though I had to be up early the next day for work. I’d get there early, set up chairs, put literature out and put out snacks. I chaired the meeting if asked and felt very comfortable in sharing. It was a good vibe. I tried other MA meetings, but Sunday was my favourite. I had read the 12 steps and 12 traditions many times, but I still had no idea what the process of going through the steps with a sponsor would look like. I had to practise a bit of “blind faith”. I managed to get some clean time and someone whom I respected, both from inside and outside the rooms, suggested I get a sponsor and start working the steps. So, I asked my sponsor if he’d take me on as a sponsee, which he was quite happy to do.
We started working the steps. Although I had given my life to Christ years before, we started with step 1 and the process was like a re-birth. I made sure I was “fearless and thorough” right from the start. I learned that “faith without works is dead”. I did everything my sponsor “suggested”. We dug in deep in step 4. I made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself; step 5, shared my inventory with my sponsor; afterward I had a “perma-grin” as if I was stoned because I was so relieved. Steps 6 and 7 put a finger on my character defects and asked for them to be removed. Steps 8 and 9 was being willing to make amends and then going out and doing them.
I’m living steps 10 and 11: growth steps as my sponsor would say. Keeping my side of the street clean and staying in touch with God through prayer and meditation. And finally step 12, I hope to carry the message to marijuana addicts and to practice the principles in all my affairs. And why can I do that? Because, I’ve truly had a spiritual awakening! I’m not nearly as selfish anymore. I’m happy to do things for people. I’m honest most of the time. I try not to judge people. My relationships are much healthier. I’m someone I can love and be proud of. I still take it one day at a time. Especially living through this time with the Covid-19 virus. Everyday, I say my prayers, meditate, call people in recovery, do yoga, listen to music, read and practice the steps, take walks in the park, and make sure I do fun stuff like play cards with my Mom. If you’re reading this and you’re wondering how I can quit for any amount of time, remember all you have to do is not smoke today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here yet, so all we have is today.