Marijuana is known as a safer intoxicant, likely because no death from overdose is known to have occurred – ever. Again, cannabis is applauded for its distinction from other commonly used intoxicants, namely in producing none of the gut-wrenching withdrawal symptoms of, say, alcohol or opiates. This does not mean, however, using marijuana cannot develop into a pattern of behavior inconsistent with the momentum of society, often creating a series of ill effects in your life. Some would call this addiction, but only you can choose to recognize it.
Marijuana Anonymous, which began in California in the late 1980s, is for people who recognize the potential ill effects on their life of marijuana addiction. This can be different for everyone. One of the most socially highlighted terms “addict” can build your behavior into a box, rolled up inside your life with everything else. At some point, a struggle of internal reconciliation will highlight how much your drug use weighs on your life. Admitting you may need help is hard when you feel isolated.
Programs such as Marijuana Anonymous exist to create a community around the potential ill effects of excessive marijuana use and addiction on the lives of your loved ones and yourself. While the common stigma of marijuana not being addictive in the same way as alcohol or heroin may add a layer of self-doubt, even, when considering your marijuana use habits. Knowing you are not alone and that a program exists specifically for this issue can help motivate those who need the help to seek it.
Marijuana Anonymous currently holds meetings in over 30 US states, including many states where marijuana is legal, four (4) Canadian Provinces, and ten other countries on three (3) different continents. Meetings can also be done by phone or virtually, and Marijuana Anonymous even has a smartphone app.
How do I know if I have a problem with marijuana?
As mentioned above, addiction and problemed use are recognized by each person differently. Marijuana Anonymous, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, is an adjusted 12-step program tuned to the song of the toker. On their web page, MA suggests you ask yourself these questions to help evaluate whether marijuana is having negative consequences on your life and well-being:
- Has smoking pot stopped being fun?
- Do you ever get high alone?
- Is it hard for you to imagine a life without marijuana?
- Do you find that your marijuana use determines your friends?
- Do you use marijuana to avoid dealing with your problems?
- Do you smoke pot to cope with your feelings?
- Does your marijuana use let you live in a privately defined world?
- Have you ever failed to keep promises you made about cutting down or controlling your use of marijuana?
- Has your use of marijuana caused problems with memory, concentration, or motivation?
- When your stash is nearly empty, do you feel anxious or worried about how to get more?
- Do you plan your life around your marijuana use?
- Have friends or relatives ever complained that you’re using is damaging your relationship with them?
If you spent any time ruminating on one of these questions, going back and forth in your head, Marijuana Anonymous might be of help to you.
What is a 12-step program?
As adopted from the Alcoholics Anonymous program, the 12-steps to recovering from marijuana addiction are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over marijuana, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to marijuana addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The basis of all 12-step program is – out of necessity – getting people to recognize it is okay to be them by humbling the ego. This is done by building community and strengthening bonds to people and enriching life in other fulfilling ways that are sustainable behaviors in nature.
The acceptance of “God” suggested by the 12-steps of Marijuana Anonymous, from California to South Africa, is not indicative of a God of any organized faith. Instead, God is more a representation of the fact you can’t see most of what is happening, and that is okay because you are loved. Humbled through the community, connection, and faith, addiction and maladaptive marijuana use can be stemmed, allowing sustainable personal growth in the process. At least, that is the idea (I think).
Why is it known as Marijuana Anonymous?
Marijuana Anonymous is named as such because attendance at meetings does not require any person to be anything more than a recovering marijuana addict. The anonymity allows the social bond of sharing about marijuana addiction to be more closely formed, helping strengthen the potential of success within the program and reminding every person in attendance they are not alone.
Marijuana Anonymous operates on a code of ethics layered within what they call “the Twelve Traditions“:
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon M.A. unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority, a loving God whose expression may come through in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or M.A. as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose, to carry its message to the marijuana addict who still suffers.
- A. groups ought never endorse, finance, or lend the M.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every M.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Marijuana Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- A., as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Marijuana Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the M.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, t.v., film, and other public media. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all fellow M.A. members.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Marijuana Anonymous is a free public service aiming to reduce the negative impact of marijuana use in communities across the world. If you or a loved one use marijuana at a level where concern for yourself is less than concern for maintaining your high, Marijuana Anonymous can serve as a launching pad for reinventing your relationship to the world.
Article By: Joey Wells