Some of Our Stories

4 minutes of meditation daily. 24.33 hours per year

Every morning I spend time considering the most important single thing that I have learned in my life, recovering as a pothead. I have managed to do this every day for 5 years and it beats packing a breakfast cone.

1st minute. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

I cannot change the past. I can change the attitudes that I have held in the past and I need my higher power to access serenity when I consider the extent of this truth, courage to try to challenge these attitudes and wisdom to know what the truth is. Marijuana gave me an identity and made me a prisoner. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. I have to do something today that puts me in touch with my spirit, my intellect and my body.

2nd minute. We admitted we were powerless over marijuana, that our lives had become unmanageable.

WE... I cannot do it by myself. I tried and failed a thousand times over, because I was powerless. For 13 years I have abstained from all chemical addiction through being empowered by the knowledge collectively contained in the rooms of the 12 steps. I didn't even know I was unmanageable because of my ego. At the end of my using it hurt when I breathed in and when I breathed out. Today I can swim 25 metres with one breath. This didn't happen overnight, neither did my addiction.

3rd minute. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Today I have to allow my higher power to be greater than it was yesterday in order to overcome the patterns of behaviour that still don’t work for me. Irrational thinking will cloud my judgement today and when it does I will say the serenity prayer and look towards my attitude, whilst trying to see the other person’s point of view.

4th minute. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to god as we understood god.

I want the sanity on offer today so I will allow my higher power to give me a helping hand. My best thinking was smoking pot 24/7 so I will ask for help and try to connect with other people by joining a group, going to meetings, ringing another member and reading the literature and practicing the 12 steps. Today I am on step 2 (again).

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Journey from the Jay

I haven’t smoked grass since early 2004. This wouldn’t rate a mention to most people. Most people consider a joint at a party to be fine. Grass isn’t as popular as alcohol, but it’s in a solid second place when it comes to mind altering substances for the masses... Grass for me, from about the age of 20 to 30, was far and away in first place. Simply put, I could not comfortably get through a day, any day, without at least about ten cones. Generally more and certainly not less... I smoked during all my spare time, and plenty of times that weren’t spare… like at work, or when I was driving, or instead of hanging out with a friend like I’d promised or a girlfriend (who usually couldn’t believe she had hooked up with such a stoner!). Grass made me feel relaxed, pure and simple. There were other things that I grew to like about it, but being relaxed as a core value takes some beating. I seem to have the personality type that is easily anxious- about my life, my status, my friendships, my flaws (physical and psychological), my fears, my family… anything really. I think that I’ve always been anxious, and have always worked to hide it. I had to get clean to realise that. When I smoked grass it allowed my anxiety to self-dissolve without conscious effort.

I had a lot of trouble fitting in. My father left when I was small, and my mother moved to a couple of new countries (and a lot of schools in an incredibly short amount of time), before finally remarrying to a widower and father of four children. In this new family my mother and I formed one unit and my step-father and siblings formed another. Eventually our family became a kind of functioning unit, but I wouldn’t describe my childhood, particularly the first five or so years of that marriage (from when I was 7 to about 12) as happy. My parents struggled financially, and it seemed that none of the children seemed to get along. Things ultimately smoothed out as I hit high school. I was popular and I was good at school. I had a chip on my shoulder that I usually hid, but it was obvious enough so that older kids didn’t pick on me. I think for a while (like the next twenty years) it seemed I was always ready to punch someone. Though I hasten to add that it’s not like I was brought up in a violent surroundings. We lived in the country, and were from a strictly protestant church, with an almost Amish-like distinctiveness and insularity. I more mention the anger, because like anxiety, is a trait that’s powerfully medicated by liberal amounts of THC. Another unconscious reason this grass was my drug of choice.

This is a short bio of my getting clean, but one turning point was being in my late twenties and living in Glebe in a house with three high-class call girls and music and drug minded flatmate. It was a flash terrace, unlike some of the dives that I had called home in my mid-twenties- back when my daily drug regime was ‘harder’ (ie. speed, heroin, etc). Anyway, it was 2001. I was pursuing a hobby I enjoyed, had an okay job, a fair amount of cash and I was miserable and it felt like I had been forever. Anyway, one of the girls had heard me complain about my addiction to grass, and during a brief stay at a detox she had seen an MA leaflet and thought of me. I looked at it, noticed the meeting was literally down the road… and put it away for about another two years. Another turning point was finally being broken enough to go to a meeting and have a look. It was amazing. People were talking about having quit this drug. Not naïve statements like, ‘you should just quit’, as so many people without an addiction had said, but actually how they did it, and what it was like, and what it was like now that they hadn’t smoked for months or years… I understood from them the one-clean-day-at-a-time idea, and stopped for a whole two months. Then I felt terrific. Then I went on a holiday and drank like a fish- and then I relapsed. It took another demoralising eight months to go back. This time I really didn’t think it would work.

Except it has.

I had not smoked a few days before that meeting, and I have not smoked once in the past three years.

MA in Sydney is small- probably bigger than anywhere else in Australia, but it’s a tiny community compared with your AA or NA. We unashamedly borrow straight from their principles and help each other stay clean by simply showing up to meetings, listening to each other and thereby reinforcing our good impulses (to stay clean) and condition ourselves to remember why we don’t want to give in to our bad impulses (to smoke grass again). I find that I hardly ever even think about a smoke now, hardly even as a fantasy these days. Life is busy now. I work hard, I study hard, I like hanging out with friends and exercising and hanging out in café’s - simply living...

The clean life is a wonderful life, and I wouldn’t hand it back for anything. That’s why I’ll keep coming back to MA. See you there!

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Attitude of Gratitude

If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would be clean from marijuana and writing this story I would have laughed at them and called them a few names to boot! However here I am doing just that!

Funny how life changes.

I smoked pot for well over 20 years and had an endless supply of dope as I was a very resourceful addict. I held down jobs, learnt to invest, had relationships and looked for all money a happy and stable man. But deep down inside I had this uncomfortable feeling eating away at me, my life had become unmanageable and I was powerless over my pot use. I slowly but surely lost my confidence and my will to live life to the fullest. I had gone from being a very responsible man to a lethargic non-caring one, a life’s too hard attitude sort of person. Addiction had taken hold of me and was slowly squeezing the life out of me. I had hit a big snake in the game of life!

Today, two and a half years later, I’m clean and sober. I’m one very grateful man, for if it wasn’t for the support, help and encouragement of my peers and fellow members of Marijuana Anonymous my life would not be as it is today!

Don’t get me wrong. I still have moments that are a little strange, ‘cause now I live life on life’s terms without my old supposed good mate (dope), but you know, what an adventure this new way of living has brought. Challenging of course, as I have had to change my old ways of thinking and acting. I have made new and exciting friends, my old fears have diminished and I have learnt to ask for help instead of suffering in silence. I now look forward to new challenges and life just gets better.

I look back at my journey through recovery up until now and I see how much change has occurred and I know how much more it will!

I am one grateful person and I hope that you too can feel this way!

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My First Meeting Gave Me Hope

I started smoking pot when I was 18 and moved away from my family to go to university. Getting stoned was an instant remedy to so many of the things I didn’t like about myself. I was extremely shy and smoking made me feel that I fit in. I had always tried so hard to please other people and now I didn’t feel like I had to. It allowed me to be bad, which I’d never been before.

It wasn’t long until it was obvious to me that regardless of how much my friends smoked, I smoked differently. If it was fun to get stoned before uni one day, I wanted to do it every day. If other people wanted to sit around smoking and talking and laughing, I’d be getting frustrated at how slowly the bong made it back around the circle to me. One thing I learnt early in my using was to always have my own supply so I didn’t have to deal with that frustration. I dropped out of uni after a couple of years to really concentrate on my drug taking.

Throughout my using, which continued daily for about the next twelve years, I led a life that looked extremely functional from the outside. I always paid my rent. I always had good jobs and worked hard. Other people may have said I had an enviable life filled with variety and friends. My pot habit was something I would go to any length to hide from others. I felt guilty and ashamed of what my private life was really like.

Over the years I tried all kinds of things to stop smoking. I hated how my life became smaller and smaller, as I lost confidence and isolated more and more. I hated how I looked and how I had to drag myself out of bed each morning. I made detailed lists every year of the reasons to stop smoking – financial, physical, social, emotional. And every year I continued, unable to stop despite my best efforts.

My paranoia got worse and worse, and I’d smoke more to try to deal with it. I started throwing my stash away every Monday morning, and I’d be back at my dealers that same night to get more. I took antidepressants and saw therapists to deal with depression. At the time I would have explained to you that I needed pot to cope with how lonely and bored I was and how isolated I felt.

Finally I got desperate enough to stop trying to stop on my own. I knew I needed help to do it – I had tried everything else I could think of. I saw a counsellor who suggested I try a twelve-step program. I resisted the idea for a few more months and finally made it – stoned – to my first MA meeting. What that meeting gave me was hope – I heard stories that sounded like mine but they were being told by people who didn’t smoke pot anymore. If they could do it, then maybe I could too. Three days after that meeting, I threw away my stash for the last time, and I haven’t smoked since.

My recovery has been slow. I was happy to follow the suggestions that I could do in isolation from the beginning, like writing and reading the literature. But those that required trust in others, like getting a sponsor and working the steps with her, took me a longer time. Through my relationship with my sponsor, my peers in recovery, and now with my sponsees, I am learning to allow people see me as I really am. I do service to give back to the fellowship that has given me so much, but more than that, because service helps me learn to be considerate of other people.

When I first went to MA, I didn’t dare imagine that I could have a life without marijuana. Recovery continues to give me so much, including a place where I can safely learn and practice the emotional and spiritual skills that I need to have the life I always wanted. These days I have great hope for myself and my future.

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Gateway - My experience of Marijuana

It's robbed me of a decent teenage and adult life. It's a very antisocial/paranoid drug that made me think and act very dumbly. For most people with addictive personalities (as I have) marijuana became a gateway drug to alcohol and then moving on to harder drug use. This then lead me to crime to support all of my addictions.

If I was a smart kid, I would not have picked up marijuana, which lead me to becoming a slave to alcohol and all other drugs. Addiction has cost me 15 years of my life spent in maximum security prisons. I don't want this to happen to any other young person. Be smarter than I was - don't destroy your life with addiction to marijuana or any other chemicals.

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