I’m in Recovery and I Can’t Use Marijuana
In case you’ve been living under a rock or just not paying attention, marijuana is now legal in California. Meaning, it’s only a matter of time before I see Pineapple Express blunts sold right next to the Marlboros at the Quickie Mart when I pop in for my daily dose of caffeine.
This is where my heart sinks a little bit.
The 16-year-old-stoner me is celebrating, but sober-me is scared. Don’t get me wrong; weed is a magical thing, and I am not at all against it. It has many impressive medical uses and healing properties, and also makes ice cream taste better (chunky monkey, anyone?)
Weed scares me because it’s triggering.
Weed is triggering for me.
Pot is the one thing I wish sober Mels could still partake in. There are many people that practice Marijuana Maintenance, and I am not here to tell you they are wrong. I know people in recovery who smoke marijuana who are living successful, totally productive lives.
One of the many things I learned in 2017 is that there is no one way to recover—our journeys are different. The whole point of recovery is to uncover a life that is joyous, happy and free. It is not my place to tell anyone the life they’re living is anything but. That being said, Marijuana Maintenance is not for me.
I have tried to find a scenario where fitting Mary Jane into my life would prove to be more helpful than debilitating. Like a true addict, I have gone back and forth over every justification, trying to find that one little loophole, without success (Not even when I’m old, suffering from Alzheimer’s, on my deathbed waiting to take my last wheezing breath?? No Melissa, not even then.)
In my attempts to find reasons I could possibly enjoy marijuana, I was able to find only reasons I cannot. Through the process, I found the acceptance I feared I’d never find.
I am in recovery, and I can’t use marijuana.
I’m sharing my list for those who may be struggling like I was, or for those who to love to ask me, “Can’t you smoke a little? You’re just an alcoholic.”
When I first got sober, I truly brought nothing to the table. I had nothing to show for 25 years of survival. I hadn’t created any sort of life for myself. What’s more, I didn’t even know myself. And I don’t only mean that I didn’t know my hopes and dreams, I truly knew nothing. I had no hobbies or a style, and I wasn’t really sure how I took my coffee. There were two things I knew—I drank whiskey and I blacked out.
This means, I’ve spent the last four years truly discovering and creating myself. The underlining factor of this new woman is that she is sober. And for me to feel validated in that soberness, I need to refrain from mind-altering substances. If I don’t have this sober aspect of my identity, I believe I’d begin to feel lost again. I spent 25 years losing myself, I’m not going to give up this new personal discovery because I want to spend the afternoon toking and listening to my old Bob Marley records.
I believe our truths are in our intentions. If I go hang out in a bar (which I do still occasionally do), I have to make sure I am there for the live band and not to remember the good old days. I need to examine if I’m there because I truly enjoy a fun game of pool, or because I like the way my mouth waters at the smell of stale beer. I have to ask myself, “What are your intentions?”
My honest intentions for smoking weed would ultimately be to get high. I could blame my anxiety or even my insomnia, but there are other ways to overcome my insomnia and anxiety that work for me.
I am not saying these things aren’t valid reasons, I’m saying they aren’t valid for me. My intention would be to get stoned. The end.
“The Gateway Drug” Theory
Remember the days of D.A.R.E, when the big scary cop would come to our fifth-grade class, show us pictures of a broken egg, compare it to our brains on drugs and then try to scare us straight by selling the whole ‘Weed is a gateway drug’ theory?? Well, I don’t know what our brains look like on drugs and I don’t think pot is a gateway drug for everyone, but it would be for me.
Once I start justifying all the reasons weed is acceptable for my lifestyle, it’s only a matter of time until I’m justifying the lines I’m snorting to ‘help me clean my house’ and buying booze for ‘special occasions.’ Soon enough, doing the dishes would suddenly become a special occasion, and I’d be blacked out by noon (true story).
Go Hard or Go Home
I’m a balls-to-the-walls kind of girl. I just am. Maybe it’s in my blood, or maybe it is something many of us substance abusers have in common. Either way, I am what I am. I drink until the bottle is empty, I don’t save lines for the morning, and if you give me a bag of pills I’ll see how high I can get.
It sucks, and I know I am not alone in this. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury many of us just cannot afford.
That’s OK. It really is.
The reality is, the only reason I would personally want to smoke weed is to get high. As relaxing or freeing as it may sound, I don’t want to be stoned around my kids or risk forgetting the memories we’re making. I don’t want to risk forgetting moments I share with my husband; the times when our souls connect while laughing or simply just being. The reality is, I am not willing to risk any of that for marijuana.
So smoke up California, but please don’t offer me a hit at the family Christmas party. I respect your right to legally use marijuana. Please respect my right to choose not to.
For those of you also choosing abstinence, I hope you find some acceptance of other paths as well. It’s been a hard one for me to swallow, but I’m working on it. This doesn’t mean I won’t be triggered by people who can and choose to smoke weed, it just means I don’t have to resent them.
Melissa is a fulltime working mama to her two young boys; Watson and Emerson. She is married to a wonderful sober man and they have created a blessed life in Southern California.
Melissa has been sober since 11.6.13 and is active in 12 step fellowships and the online sober community and . She understands there are no sober blueprints, and different things work for different people. Along with addiction, Melissa struggles with mental health issues, addiction to self-harm, and has a habit of self-loathing. Through recovery, she has begun to overcome those obstacles.
She works at a non-profit, men’s recovery home and spends her free time podcasting with her husband and recycling old clothes.