As of writing this I am over 14 months sober, and when I say “sober” I mean alcohol free. I feel as though it’s my right to say that, although some would argue that I should specify. When I got sober for the first time in 2007 I remember not vibing on the whole NA model of “weed is a drug too”. Because to me, weed kept me sober off alcohol. Some would argue I’m substituting one addiction with the other, but I disagree in the umbrella sense. I want to dive into this a little bit and tell you where I stand. Now, I’m not here to justify smoking marijuana or to say that people should- I think weed, like alcohol, like caffeine, affects us all differently. I think the bigger message is that we need to do the work to understand how deep our addictions go, and what things affect us negatively. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way to recover, and as long as your individual program keeps you sober and involves self improvement and self awareness, you’re on the right track.
So… Can you identify as sober if you smoke marijuana recreationally?
I definitely believe that some people shouldn’t smoke weed. I have friends that smoke and instantly do nothing, or get sleepy, or eat the entire refrigerator. Some of our bodies just don’t react well to marijuana, or maybe we’re smoking the wrong kind of weed, but either way, if it’s not for you, then no peer pressure- it’s great that you realize it. If you use weed to numb your feelings and to escape then you’re using it to “cope” and I’ve learned in sobriety that anytime I use something mind altering as a coping mechanism, I need to be aware of that. I’ve learned that building healthy coping mechanisms is at the center of my recovery, because if I can cope in healthy ways, then I don’t need booze anymore. I now also don’t see it as a healthy coping mechanism, but as a cop out. And as for me personally, when I’m high I feel MORE. I laugh more. I don’t get paranoid and I don’t make unhealthy choices. It forces me to read slower, and notice the little things. For me, that’s a win. But I realize that’s not everyone’s experience. Just like drinking turned me into a witty social butterfly in the beginning- in the end it turned me into a bitter, spiteful mess. Obviously that shit had to go.
But if we say this about weed because it’s a mind altering substance, then what about coffee? Do you NEED coffee to start your day? Well, isn’t that a dependance then? Don’t you think you should reanalyze your caffeine use? What about the fact that people at NA meetings consume more coffee and more cigarettes than any other group of people I know (not knocking NA at all, I am a member, but using them as an example because they’re the largest known recovery model) So although we’re working a spiritual program, where is the disconnect between coffee & cigarettes too- knowing that these things also affect us all differently? If the argument is about weed, then you have to bring in all “mind altering substances” which includes (in the umbrella term): tobacco, caffeine, sugar, most prescription medications… Yes, I understand what cross addiction is so isn’t it very possible we choose a “substitute” for our addiction? Because addiction is sneaky like that? This is why I strongly believe that becoming aware of your addiction patterns, your specific triggers, and where your pain comes from is how we learn to conquer the things that made us drink in the first place. Once I started to do that, my desire to drink slowly depleted because I started to see all the things that weren’t good for me. Alcohol wasn’t good for me, poisoning my body and treating myself and others the way I did was terrible for me. So now my recovery programs looks like analyzing all the other things in my life that aren’t good for me, and so far, weed isn’t one of those things. But that could change, and maybe at one point, it won’t serve me anymore too.
Marijuana is now legal in many places, and therefore there is a better information about the positive effects weed can have in recovery regarding addiction, I’d encourage you to do your own research. CBD is now being sold all over the US. CBD is literally the marijuana plant, grown with little or 0% THC (the psychoactive ingredient in weed that gives us our “high”). And although I’m a supporter of all variations of the plant itself, let’s not forget that at the heart of most medical marijuana studies is THC. As someone that lived in legal state, and saw the way certain strains help friends with anxiety, and certain strains could give anxiety to others, I know the way marijuana or CBD can help some. So don’t knock it. It’s a plant after all, and I believe much more in plants than I do in anything man made, but that’s my opinion. I think nature provided us medicine as well as food, and it’s my belief that we can use nature’s bounty positively,
So can I be sober if I smoke weed? Yes I can because if you want to blame weed then you also need to turn the lense on cigarettes, sugar, and caffeine because all of these things aren’t natural as well. The work I’ve done to stay sober doesn’t get belittled because I enjoy smoking marijuana recreationally. You know what wasn’t recreational? My alcohol use. Working to slowly remove all toxic things from my daily life has become a beautiful journey and how people choose to recover is up to them. I think at the end of the day you’ll know if you’re bullshitting yourself, that’s not up to me to decide.
I don’t think recovery is a one size fits all program. I don’t think what works for some will work for others, and I think it’s your responsibility to start to explore yourself and your addiction in whatever way you feel called. If something doesn’t feel in alignment, trust it, after all you’re learning to truly feel now, so learn to trust your intuition in your recovery- it will guide you. We always know what’s right for us, even when we deny that inner voice. Learn to differentiate between your intuition and your addiction. Learn what your voice of addiction sounds like, so you know it isn’t you when it starts getting louder. Mine is so silent now, that I kinda just laugh at her because she seems so obvious and silly when she starts talking now. It’s too easy to remember how cunning she used to be- “have a drink to relax!” Actually, it did the opposite and got me all amped up, or it just made me put my problems on hold. It was dumb, just like cocaine. Maybe my addiction could show up in something else! I mean, absolutely! Addiction is cunning like that. For this very reason, my program involves looking at other things I may become addicted too- like social media, or things that I suddenly start obsessing over or researching compulsively… some things are healthier than others, so where do we draw the line?
For me, drawing the line keeps me constantly aware of my obsessive or addictive behaviors. Taking the time to breathe daily, yoga, supportive friendships and relationships have helped me grow more in the past 14 months than anything I’ve ever done before. Sober life has been a gift! If you identify with sober, or alcoholic, or alcohol free, or whatever word makes you feel empowered to be living a life without a substance that used to control you, then USE IT! Claim it! Because the only people looking at your program and judging you, aren’t working theirs, and it shows. Keep your head down and stay in your lane. We are all here to become the best versions of ourselves, and to lift eachother up on this journey, not shame people into silence or away from certain programs because theirs doesn’t look like ours. I repeat, stay in your lane! We are all different people who need different things! Don’t compare your program to others. Any program of self improvement, self awareness, and giving back, that benefits someone is absolutely great!
So yea, you can smoke weed and be sober. You can smoke weed and not be sober. The real question isn’t what you’re doing, but what you’re creating and building- what are you doing to become a better you, to grow as a person, to help others and give back? Everyone should be working a program of self improvement, and for me, analyzing my relationship with alcohol led me to believe that it wasn’t benefiting my self improvement, so I had to quit. The more I love myself, the less I want to do things that cause me or the people I love harm. The more I love myself, the less I want anything to control me or my emotions. If my weed use morphs into something other than it is now, then I will have to reassess again.
I’m not encouraging you to smoke weed, but if you’re on the fence about if being alcohol free is sober- then I’d encourage you to look at the above things I’ve mentioned and see if your life feels better, and if you’re growth game is strong. Because if it is, and you’re rocking sober life- then I encourage you to step out of the grey area and claim your sobriety in whatever way feels safe to you! I disagree that all addicts have to be completely sober. I think addiction is a spectrum and that’s why I cannot reiterate enough, you need to know what type of addict you are! If you’re an all or nothing addict, then maybe weed won’t be for you! The reality is, when we’re sleeping we’re in an altered state of consciousness, when we’re tired we’re in an altered state of consciousness, so altered states of consciousness can be normal- where do we draw the line? When it becomes negative, I truly think you’ll know. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.