A Pothead in AA
In the following text I would like to share my story. My focus will be about how I came to Alcoholics Anonymous as a pothead.
I started consuming cannabis and alcohol the way most people do, who later on discover they are addicts: One day I realized that I felt way more comfortable and enjoyed myself more when I used. I was twelve years old then. It was much easier for me to relax in social situations and to perceive myself a part of the world when I was wasted.
Later on the after-work beer or the recreational joint came almost naturally, which I enjoyed all by myself more and more frequently to have a pleasant evening. I didn’t use bongs in my youth, and arrogantly looked down on stoners, thinking my own use was relaxed and mature.
When I left home after school my use became more – and more frequent. Yet I thought it was absolutely okay during civilian sercive, college and apprenticeship. What bothered me most were intensifying periods of depression.
Over the next 15 years I increasingly used weed to get a break from my own head – self-medicating my depressions. Sometimes with other people, but more often alone, when companionship was too much for me. I started drinking more beer with the weed when the effect of the hashish (the pause from myself) became less. Instead feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness seeped through the most intense fog of intoxication.
This worked for about a year, and my evening routine of couch, using and Netflix continued. But this did not last long, since I was developing serious tolerance. This “high-function-high” was coming to an end. It became increasingly impossible to be a reliable worker, good dad, to keep friendships, care for my relationship, and to even perform mundane tasks like taking showers and eating.
In the end it was a strenuous effort to get up to pee, because I was afraid the world would clash over my head. Faced with the situation of being less and less able to flee the world and my own feelings, my suicide thoughts reached a perilious level. Through persistent support of my social environment I was finally able to take the leap – into psychiatric help instead of off a bridge.
But the doctors at rehab refused to admit me when I honestly told them about my use. And it was clear to me that I had to answer them honestly, since I felt too prideful to cover it up. My twisted logic was: Had there been any need to cover up my using, I would have had a serious problem. Since I was not lying about it, I was not addicted to begin with.
So I was sent to Hohe Mark Klinik in Oberursel. And that was the best thing that had happened to me in a long time. Awful and desperate and hopeless. But a great fortune. Because by the time the people from the AA Young People group came (and they could credibly convince me that they had been just like me – but had a solution) I was able to let go of my pride and of everything I’d thought I needed.
I was able to accept that I was no longer going to live according to my own ideas, which had made me hit bottom. Instead it was about time for me to get help from a “power greater than myself”. At first this power was all the people in the group that were longer sober than myself (practically everyone) and especially my sponsor.
But I also had reservations, especially about smoking weed. In AA they always said they were “alcoholics”, and I was not so sure about that at first. My drug was weed, after all. I understood that addiction equals addiction and that the 12 steps were to be my direction – but an alcoholic?
In my search for identity and belonging within 12-step groups what gave me plenty surety was to talk to people within the Young-People-group that also were addicted to multiple substances. Also to check out different 12-step groups (CA and NA), in which I could share quite detailed about my hashish use.
Yet I realized quickly that the Young-People-group would become my home group, since I felt most comfortable there. Today – two years later – I can easily say that I am an alcoholic, whether it’s in meetings, in prayer, or talking to friends and colleagues. This is when I can emotionally grasp my disease of addiction. It doesn’t matter anymore which substance I preferred, I’m not going to use anything anymore, anyway.