I remember the first time I heard it. I was at an AA meeting listening to a middle-aged man share. He spoke about honesty and the importance of working the steps. He talked a good talk. I was still thinking about what he’d said when the person sitting next to me, nudged my leg. I turned to her and she rolled her eyes. Clearly, she’d seen something that I hadn’t. I looked again, but the man had already sat down. I turned to the woman beside me and shrugged. She mouthed, “Pot head.” Rather judgmental, I thought to myself. In the meetings half time, she explained that the man who was speaking, was on the ‘marijuana maintenance’ program. There was a marijuana maintenance program? I was confused. How could that be? I’d never heard such a thing before. [bottom-inline-cta] Weren’t you supposed to be clean and sober, if you were claiming sobriety? The meeting ended with the serenity prayer. As I was stacking chairs, I noticed that the man who spoke had slipped out the back door. It was smoker’s corner, and every meeting had one. I finished stacking chairs and walked out after him. I’d just quit smoking cigarettes, so it was a dangerous place for me to be. I stood outside with the smokers feeling embarrassed. I didn’t want the others to notice that I was checking up on this guy. Through the gray haze I scanned his face, searching for the tell-tale signs. His eyes were red, but it was smoky. He didn’t engage with any of the other smokers, instead he inhaled his cigarette at warp speed. I’m not sure why I felt the need to be doing this. It was important to me for no other reason, then this was an honest program, and if he was stoned, he wasn’t being honest. In fact, in my mind, he was dangerous. If I could make smoking dope okay in sobriety, I could make doing anything else okay, too. I watched longingly as he inhaled his cigarette, the tip burning cherry-red. The suspect sober/stoned guy – butted his cigarette out against his boot heel and then flicked the butt into the can, which was being used as an ashtray. He sauntered back in the door and disappeared. An old timer noticed my confused look and crooked a finger at me. As we walked back into the church, I talked to him about my confusion. He let me run on. When I’d finished, he spoke. He reminded me of the third tradition. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Third tradition didn’t state anything about smoking weed with marijuana vaporizer we find now at Higher Grounds, or popping pills, or any of the other many ways we can over stimulate the pleasure pathway, inside our brain. Third tradition only requires a desire to stop drinking. You don’t even have to be stopped. You just have to desire it. When you take away the alcohol, you have a lot of recovering alcoholics running around looking for their next sugar fix. Third tradition doesn’t say anything about sugar, either. However, there is a big difference – at least in my mind – between eating too many donuts and smoking pot. Although I imagine smoking pot leads too eating more donuts, it also leads to something far more dangerous. Dishonest thinking, which is also known as stinking thinking. Stinking thinking is what gets you into this mess in the first place. Since then, I’ve seen very few successfully recovered, stoned, AA members. Almost all of them go back out. But we’re dealing with alcoholics here, and some like to play the odds. While a minor percent of pot smokers in recovery might be living successfully, the majority of them, aren’t. Why play Russian roulette with a loaded gun? I don’t define my sobriety by what I don’t drink, or use, although that’s a part of it. But the majority of sobriety is about changing unhealthy behaviors and dealing with your ISM. [middle-callout] ISM’s are all those sneaky little buggers like: lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, procrastinating, blaming, avoiding, denying, exaggerating, gossiping, self-centeredness, excuses, self-pity, grandiosity, abusing, and any of the other unhealthy behaviors, that go hand in hand with addiction. It’s alcohol-ISM – not wasim, folks. The ISM is what takes you back to using, every single time. If you’re sober, you already have the prize. For this gal, life doesn’t get any better than this. There are days I wake up and want to pinch myself. I am living the dream. I don’t need to be stoned. Not even, a little. The high I found in recovery is better than any chemically induced high, I’ve ever been on. And it doesn’t come with a hangover, or broken hearts. Personally I think if you’re smoking pot in recovery, you haven’t done the work. Your ISM’s are still running the show. Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. Take another toke, and you’ll see the old familiar curve of that turning point – The one that leads to all roads, ‘back out.’ Truth is, you’re already there. Sobriety is precious. If you’re smoking pot, I have a news flash for you. You’re not sober, you’re stoned! You still have a long, long way, to go. Need help? Let’s talk. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 844-451-0263. Best wishes, Lorelie Rozzano.
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