“Hi! My name is Mu and I'm an alcoholic.” If, like me, you're in 12-step recovery from a substance problem, you're familiar with those magic words. I first said them at an A.A. meeting over 35 years ago, and in all that time, I haven't touched a drop of alcohol! I even wrote a well-known book, The Zen Of Recovery, about my experiences sobering up and getting healthy.
Now here's a second revised introduction : “Hi! My name is Mu and I'm a stoner.” This new public admission is every bit as hard for me as was the first, admitting my alcoholism. You see, for all these thirty-five years of abstinence from alcohol and being a recovery author and workshop leader, I have also enjoyed the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of cannabis.
I've had to keep it quiet and hide the person I really am because of a prevailing disapproval in the recovery community of anything except complete abstinence from all mind-altering substances, regardless of their effects, negative or positive. It was dishonest of me and it was cowardly. But it's time now for me and many other people in recovery to come out of the weed closet and claim our self-determined right to our own definitions of wellness. No, I am no longer drunk. And yes, I am usually high, even now as I write this. Especially now…let me explain.
It's important to point out that being stoned is in no way comparable to being drunk. This much should be obvious to the most hard-core 12-step person by now. Hell, I couldn't even have found my computer when I drank, much less use it to write this post. But somehow, I'm able to do it stoned. While many in the 12-step programs will argue that I am deluded, I have to insist that my long-time personal experience says otherwise.
Disclaimers: On Cannabis Addiction and Alcohol Use
I just want to address a couple of peripheral issues, add some disclaimers and generally clear the air before we move on to the gist of my stance in the next few posts.
First: I don't deny that some people find themselves psychologically dependent on cannabis. Addicted, they often claim. A couple of very dear friends who I helped enter recovery felt they had to also quit cannabis. I never for a moment doubted their claims. After all, the motto of A.A. emblazoned on our anniversary medallions says unequivocally “To thine own self be true.”
That is the only guideline we need to follow about our recovery, and particularly in regard to the well-intentioned advice of others. I apply this motto not only to my own continued use of cannabis, but also to the right of others to not indulge: to thine own self be true!
We become healthier and who we really are only by a fearless self-examination and deep acceptance of our true selves. What works for other people has nothing to do with what works for us. Only we ourselves can be reliable judges of our behavior, needs and desires.
So...if you feel you're addicted to cannabis, then by all means don't use it. I applaud your decision and support your self-diagnosis fully. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous are great resources for your recovery. And by the way, you probably shouldn't be looking at this website (unless you heard about this article) in the same way that I shouldn't really go into a bar.
Second: In no way, shape or form, am I attacking the use and enjoyment of alcohol. Those who know me, also know that I'm no “born-again” lecturing one-and-all on their particular shortcomings and “sins.” My recovery is mine alone and does not depend upon the approval or denial of others. I always keep alcohol in my home (along with cannabis and tea) to offer my guests who partake. Never have I felt tempted by its presence and not once have I even thought about it. No judgment.
If you feel you can use alcohol as an enhancer and enjoy its effects, more power to you! I remember how much I enjoyed it myself before it became a problem for me. If you can mix cannabis and alcohol and not harm yourself or others in the process, then party on! You'll get no disapproval from Padre Mu.