The question of “Can I smoke weed and be successful?” has resulted in many opinions. This debate has been going on forever in the recovery community.
Our opinion is based on facts. We have been treating addiction for more than 40 years. We see the same people in and out of treatment that had the idea that “only smoking weed” would be OK. We teach and practice that the greatest chance at having the new life that sobriety and recovery offers is by staying away from all mind and mood altering substances. Marijuana falls in the category of mind and mood altering.
There are plenty of other reasons why this is a bad idea. First of all, marijuana is illegal in most states. Many times when people come into treatment they are facing legal issues. It can sometimes take years for these issues to be resolved. The police are not going to care that you claim to be “sober” and that you only smoke weed, but have quit drinking and using cocaine and heroin.
Marijuana has often been referred to as the gateway drug. The drug that leads people to using more dangerous, illicit substances to feel better. If you’ve quit using the “harder drugs” and are only smoking marijuana, what happens most times are the signals from the brain will eventually tell us that marijuana is not enough anymore. Then we revert back to what we like best, be it alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs. In short, using marijuana will lead us right back to our drug of choice.
When we are active in our addiction, we never have a sense of belonging. We don’t think that we fit in anywhere.
We strongly recommend 12-step fellowships for our patients when they leave treatment. These groups offer the best chance at a new life without question. Being in the rooms of AA/NA meetings and hearing people talk about total abstinence will make it difficult for us to rationalize that “just smoking weed” is OK. Walking into these fellowships high will result in feelings of guilt and shame that will either crush someone or drive them to do something different. Simply going to meetings can be the most powerful thing we do to change the way we think.
Many of us have tried to find ways to successfully use different drugs when one became problematic; none have been successful. This way of thinking is borne out of our disease and fear. It’s easier to hide, stay high, and feel nothing. We use drugs as a crutch instead of getting down to the causes and conditions of why we use in the first place. Facing our inner-most selves can be terrifying, but thankfully we don’t have to do it alone.
The goal of recovery is to develop true coping skills in dealing with life on life’s terms. Smoking weed while attempting to stay sober and work a program is cheating yourself from the real gifts of recovery and setting yourself up for an inevitable relapse.