What About Alcoholics Anonymous and Cannabis

When I see a patient who abuses Methamphetamine’s, I feel good about giving them a recommendation in an effort to practice “Harm Reduction”. This form of treatment is growing in favor and is even now accepted by many substance abuse specialists.

So, why would AA be so against allowing medical cannabis? I would personally insist upon it being “Medical” Cannabis at the start to try keep the lid on the entire concept blowing up. However, allowing “recreational” users at the meetings would just be too much a political challenge.

Anyway, why not try having some more medical cannabis friendly AA meetings? What do you guys think?

Would there be any interest in having GreenBridge Medical host such a meeting? Perhaps one or more substance abuse specialists might join us?

I volunteer my office and my time. Anyone interested?

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46 Responses to What About Alcoholics Anonymous and Cannabis

  1. I wish more people felt the way you do

  2. Arthur Morris says:

    Marijuana is an outside issue for AA.
    In the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (12×12) Tradition Ten on page 176 states “As by some deep instinct, we A.A.’s have known from the very beginning that we must never, no matter what the provocation, publicly take sides in any fight, even a worthy one.” On page 177 the 12×12 goes on to say ” Let us reemphasize that this reluctance to fight one another or anybody else is not counted as some special virtue which makes us feel superior to other people. Nor does it mean that the members of Alcoholics Anonymous, now restored as citizens of the world, are going to back away from their individual responsibilities to act as they see the right upon issues of our time. But when it comes to A.A. as a whole, that’s quite a different matter. In this respect, we do not enter into public controversy, because we know that our Society will perish if it does.”
    The Third Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous does not say anything about a desire to stop anything other than drinking. There is nothing in the traditions about stopping other drugs.
    In The Language of the Heart, an accumulation of Bill W’s Grapevine articles, he wrote about PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL is on pages 222 through 225. On page 223 he stated ” Sobriety — freedom from alcohol — through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group.” It is clear from this statement that sobriety as it relates to AA is about alcohol and not about other drugs. On page 224 Bill W. talks about an intravenous user of drugs who was also an alcoholic and said “Since then, he has helped many AAs and some non-AAs with their pill and drug troubles. Of course, that is strictly his affair and is no way the business of the AA group to which he belongs. In his group he is a member because, in actual fact, he is an alcoholic.” Note that this is also published in the AA pamphlet PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL.
    It is common, however, to hear in meetings and outside of meetings AA’s saying that someone or other should change their sobriety date if he or she has taken drugs other than alcohol. Some AA’s will even say this about prescription drugs even if they were taken as prescribed.
    Drugs other than alcohol, overeating, problems with gambling, etc. are outside issues and if someone chooses to join another organization as a result of that then there can be another anniversary date for that particular issue. Those things have nothing to do with AA so there could be two or even more than 2 anniversary dates but the AA birthday is strictly related to freedom from alcohol.
    The legalization of pot is an outside issue. Let’s keep Tradition Ten in mind when it comes to outside issues.

  3. WOW! Great story. Thanks so much. I am going to post it.

  4. Renee Valentine says:

    The Higher Power works in the most amazing ways. In an agony of indecision, I came upon this site and the discussion regarding the use of mmj by those who love and believe in AA. I was going to add my opinion to this discussion but, during my meditation this evening, it came to me that, for me, reading this forum, from the first post in 2010 to its most recent post last year, was like going to a very good meeting. Hearts and minds were open; people were honest and expressed their fears from the depths of their hearts.
    Not once, in all that honesty, did I hear someone say they wanted to stop smoking mmj and could not. Nor did anyone say that using mmj was ruining their marriage or causing them to cheat on their husband or beat the kids or rob their employer. What I heard was people expressing the incredible relief they have received from using a natural medication, given to us by the Higher Power, specifically to alleviate pain and despair. We live in states where the medication is legal, where we have seen a doctor and received a prescription. Yet, in an AA meeting, we are unable even to share our relief and joy because of the cold judgment that would clamp down on the meeting immediately.
    I have trauma-induced fibromyalgia because of a terrible, fatal car accident and a violent rape, both of which happened in my first three years of sobriety. Today, because of Alcoholics Anonymous and a power so much greater than myself, I have a sobriety date of June 1, 1990.
    For nearly twenty years of my sobriety, I took anti-depressant medication, migraine meds, sleeping meds, and muscle relaxants. I tried physical therapy, chiropractic, electric stim, massage, myofacial release therapy, ROLFING, yoga, hypnotism, every damn thing. I was in way over my head with the pain and the next pharmaceutical step was Oxycontin. I had to leave my wonderful job as founder and executive director of a homeless shelter for women because my body pain, contingent depression and sleeplessness made it impossible for me to do my job well.
    Anyhow, four years ago, I started judiciously using legally prescribed medical marijuana. Long story short, medical marijuana has saved my life. I moved to Colorado as soon as I realized that using cannabis was offering me relief that no prescription medication ever had. I wanted to be a legal medical marijuana patient, not someone getting high behind the garage. I have been a medical marijuana patient for four years now and I feel stronger, healthier and less depressed than I ever haveā€¦.ever. I do yoga every day, my depression has lifted and my body pain is, on most days, manageable. I no longer feel desperate about my physical pain.
    But I can’t share that at an AA meeting. So I’ve shared it with you.
    Thanks for letting me share.

  5. Diana says:

    As a long time AA member who has recently begun MMJ treatment for various conditions, I appreciate this forum. I’ve had terrible fears that I’d just lost my day count, etc. and like one other here I made a mistake and was toasted (which really scared me). However, since I have the support of all my doctors and a couple other close, long time AA members, I’m working my way through the process. It would be great to create some kind of forum or perhaps phone meetings. One thing, however, is that someone with long term sobriety should establish the meetings. Dr. Frankel, I’m sorry to say your statement that you “. . .were in recovery,. . .went through AA . . . and are “still involved”, does not sound sober to me. That’s the description of a dry drunk. No one graduates from AA.

  6. Judy says:

    This feels like my first AA meeting almost 33 years ago … There is HOPE! I would love to be able to go to a meeting for m/m users … People that don’t know chronic pain and depression should not have a say so on what works for us. Thank you all for your openness <3

  7. Melissa says:

    I want to attend a meeting such as was suggested. I do not want to argue about the benefits of marijuana on my depression and anxiety. I have personally studied its effects on my own disorders. I do not want to take pharmaceuticals for these conditions. I choose cannabis because it works with the least amount of side effects. I do not care if anyone considers me not “sober”. If I were being treated with Paxil or Zoloft, I would be welcome in AA? I just cannot subscribe to this hypocrisy. AA has saved me from a life as an alcoholic. I would have surely died from my alcoholism. And, the quality of my life has been miraculously changed through AA. But, I feel very alone and do not want to chance going back to the dark depths of anxiety and depression because my medication is not an accepted treatment within AA. Please share any AA meetings where Cannabis is an acceptable medicine. I need to save my life from my Alcoholism. I do not want to die.

  8. LT says:

    I am so glad I found this discussion. I have been involved with AA/CA for almost 10 years. I have recently stopped attending meetings and having a sponsor because I practice ‘harm reduction’ by using marijuana for my severe anxiety/panic attacks and back pain. My biggest problem is that I live in TEXAS. Yes, Texas, the incredibly conservative state that accepts no medical marijuana and has no tolerance for personal use of very small amounts. People inside the meetings feel the same way here and I feel so lost and lonely without these meetings and the community to help keep me sober. Sometimes I wish I could live somewhere where I had a fellowship of people who have dual diagnoses and people I could be ‘rigorously honest’ with about the marijuana.
    Did anyone ever set up a meeting for people like us in your area? And if so, would this meeting consider allowing me to join via Skype or something? Or is there a group of people who would be willing to e-mail back and forth with me? I would really appreciate it. You would be helping your fellow addict all the way over here in Texas. Let me know. Thanks for everyone’s input. And thank you Dr. Frankel for starting this discussion.

  9. Heather Chapman says:


    I am contemplating and researching cannabis as a healing option. I am in NA. Have you assembled a group of people in recovery that are using medical cannabis?
    Thank you


  10. Thank you so much for your heartfelt letter. As you know, my belief is that there should be meetings where this is open and discussed.

    There is another way to help your symptoms. The most predictable way to treat pain using cannabis, is to use a balanced CBD:THC extract. You can read about this on my site. You will not get stoned, you will not have to smoke and it will for sure work much better.

  11. Barbara F. says:

    I have been sober since April 9th 1990. I am 45 years old and after my second child I contracted type 2 diabetes. It had been undisgnoised for a while and it caused immediate and irreparable nerve damage in my feet and ankles. My feet feel as if they are encased in electric wire mesh with glass and nails inside it. The electric mesh firing electricity shooting in my toes and feet NEVER let up.

    Kaiser gets sick of you after so many visits and since I had told them I was a speed addict they were wary of the pain killers so they wash their hands of you by w rolling you in Pain Managment. A department where you spend half the time begging the Dr. for LEGITIMITE relief. Not like in the old days when you worked it to get high. I just want to walk. I have a 7 year old special needs boy and a 10 year old girl

    So yes , I finally took the plunge and got an examine and a card. The first time was way too much and I was convinced it was laced with PCP. Then I started dialing my friends at work. Laughing and crying :). Way too much. I think I had only cover smoked once before. But my feet didn’t hurt. Heck, my body was gone. But I finally managed to hit it just right and buy the right kind. But like the guy above, I too haven’t been back too my regular AA meeting and I miss my friends of 20 years. I just don’t know what to do. I certainly know I can curb my neuropathy with MJ at night. But I also no that if taken too much it takes you on a trip which is not for me AT ALL. In fact when they say a mind full of AA ruins a belly full of liquor I can believe it. All I thought about WAS my sobriety and my children.
    My group has NEVER talked about this subject! Help!

  12. I post every comment, even angry and inaccurate ones. I am not looking for ANY new business from people in recovery. I myself was in recovery 17 years ago and went through AA which was a great help. I am still involved.

    I am not looking for business. I am offering a way for those who wish to have a safe place to discuss what they are already doing. In my experience PERSONALLY from being at hundreds of AA meetings over many years is that perhaps 50% of the people there are already using cannabis and just lying about it. What about this “rigorous honesty”???

    Personally, an individual’s recovery is very personal and how they choose to use resources is their decision. I believe that if Bob and Bill were around today they would be way more disturbed by your angry and ignorant position than at me.

    I would NOT do this with my own patients. Nor would I see a patient professionally and bill them to be a part of this group – if it ever evolves. I would not charge anything; I never have for anyone in AA looking for harm reduction therapy.

    Don’t you want the people attending meetings to be honest? Are you really that certain that cannabis can never help anyone? Do you know that forms of dosed cannabis medicine with rich CBD are NOT psychoactive – no altered state at all.

    Would you like to meet in person? Talk over the phone? I am there if you are.


    I think you’re doing a very bad thing here by promoting marijuana use to addicts and alcoholics. Would you prescribe your “medicine” to someone who outright told you they’re struggling with marijuana addiction and participating in MA?

    Anyone in recovery seeking answers should not be swayed by this businessman.

  14. beekeeper3795@gmail.com says:

    All readers beware: This doctor has an ulterior motive-

    “If you are in the LA area, it might be worthwhile for you to make an appointment to see me to discuss further in private. Allan”

    Anyone interested in how AA views marijuana use and googled it like I did, landed here.. and this “doctor” is promoting his business. Telling everyone that its ok to use MMJ while in recovery.

    What he fails to mention (and wont, out of personal interest) is that an addict can put themselves at risk by using a mind-altering substance, such as marijuana. Now, there are more dangerous substances which are considered acceptable, such as nicotine and prescription pills.. so I think the decision is to be made by the individual, stressing rigorous honesty.


  15. I commend you and have spoken with many, many other AA folks with the same story.

  16. Mag says:

    I have been sober for 15 years and use mmj. Around my 5th year of sobriety I began having horrible mood swings and anxiety attacks.I ignored it thinking it would pass. Then came the major depression, insomnia and so on. I went to my doctor and for another 6 years passed with trying every med under the sun, many nights with no sleep I really felt like I was going mad after 5 days in a row with no sleep after taking my fist full of pills I had enough. Since starting mmj I get sleep, I can concentrate and have more motivation than ever. As far as AA is concerned I don’t ask them what’s in their medicine cabinet and it’s none of their business what’s in mine. I have sponsees that use not abuse mmj and they are staying sober. It’s none of my business what others think of me. :)

  17. I totally agree. So, how could we get some meetings going where the topic, but not consumption is open? I would volunteer my office for a small group.

  18. Johnny says:

    I think it is hilarious that this is even an issue but it is. I have been a member of AA for a long time (over 30 years). I really believe if Bill were alive today he would advocate for and probably use MMJ. He battled symptoms of depression throughout his life in sobriety and at one point took LSD (it was legal) to try to deepen his spiritual life. When I see people in AA concern themselves with another member’s MMJ use I wonder what program they are working. Where there is only one requirement for membership, The desire to stop drinking where it is stated in the Big Book that “Love and tolerance of others is our code. I realized a couple of years ago that it was true that MMJ was medicine and is even legally prescribed. It’s funny how when I took a handful of prescriptions each day, including pain meds, nobody had an opinion. When I let the pharmas go and used the herb cannibis for relief I get opinions. I have been around long enough to really not value most of the opinions I hear in the rooms.

  19. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I would add one other thing. As AA does promote rigorous honesty, how can the organization of AA condone patients, many, many patients who use cannabis being forced to lie?

    I have an issue with this as it promotes hypocrisy and people being forced to be less than honest with regard to a huge and very important issue.

  20. Chuck W says:

    AA has a singleness of purpose. To help alcoholics to recover from alcoholism. 3rd tradition, outside issues and rigorous honesty. As mentioned before lots of us have to be on narcotics and benzos and I would feel much better with mmj. These pills treat single problems and the mmj at least for me makes my body and mind settle down and I can be present in the moment.
    I was one who used to be against it until I was injured and weighed the pros and cons.I would no more go to a meeting and flaunt it than I would tempt my bros with pills. Its an AA meeting and while I`m there I speak in terms of alcohol and sometimes doctor prescribed pills if it comes up. For sure have a sponsor that knows and understands and is not just a pothead playing the system. my .02

  21. My personal position is clearly that you should take your medical cannabis. The issue usually with cannabis is that you have to smoke or eat it, neither of which is ideal in your setting; the smoking because of the obvious, the edibles because they are rarely predictable and you just DO NOT want too much IF ANY “high”.

    There is no, however, a solution. If you use a cannabis tincture, as I have written about many times, that is rich in CBD, or Cannabidiol, you can be totally private, non-smoking and treat your pain and anxiety WITHOUT getting stoned ONE BIT. If you are in the LA area, it might be worthwhile for you to make an appointment to see me to discuss further in private. Allan

  22. Victor says:

    This has become a issue of great inner conflict for me lately. I just celebrated one year of sobriety. I am a Vet involved with my V.A. hospital and am being treated for T.B.I. I received while in service that has led to chronic depression, anxiety, mood disorder, etc. I have been on a plethora of various anti-depressants and anti-psychotics and I just spent the last two weeks holed up in my apartment because my symptoms of depression are just so debilitating I cannot go anywhere or do anything. I have become desperate and now am thinking about using medical marijuana. I want to continue with my group, with my sponsor and now I am sponsoring another, but I am deathly afraid of “going back”. This is the longest I have been able to put together, but I am just a mess. I used to use marijuana at times and it helped, but I was not “sober”. Now i know I could get the MMJ card, as I had one before, but I don’t know what to do! I live across the street from the Alano Club and do everything I can to be a part of the program and REALLy believe in A.A. It has really saved my life. I appreciate all the input here, but I don’t know what to do.
    Any feedback?

  23. The several patients I have had with true plant allergies to cannabis have done well by either using tinctures or actually “vaping” tinctures by using one of the new e-tok deals. The allergy is generally to the actual plant material and not the terpenes. You can be certain, if you are in the LA area and pick up one of the new CO2 extracted tinctures which have all plant material removed.

  24. Yes, I totally agree. It is a very important issue. Now “dual disorders” which still of course exist, is something much different when cannabis is involved. At least it has the chance to be something very different.

    Instead of dual diagnoses, let’s change the discussion to harm reduction using cannabis. I have spoken about this many times and many others have; I think there is little doubt that if done in a reasonable manner, much harm reduction can easily be achieved with cannabis.

  25. Ben says:

    This is an important topic. Too often the focus of AA members are on their opinion of what sobriety is. I have seen many alcoholics suffer through mental illnesses and have lost friends to suicide. I have bipolar and went through multiple hospitalizations and a suicide attempt. My final day at a 70+ a year job, I was so high off of Thorazine, I was useless. I hadn’t taken a drink in 22 years. A year after starting medical marijuana, I still haven’t taken a drink.

    I have a relationship with a power greater than myself and I don’t have a desire to take a drink. What i dont have is a desire to talk about ” not drinking”. I have an AA book so I don’t feel the Need to go to a meeting. But others may not be as fortunate.

    The frustrating thing is that this is a “policy” rather than a true foundation of the program. It originated during a time when AA was facing what has been called “dual addiction” and it seemed innocent enough. Of course you don’t want potheads and speed freaks collecting 10 year chips when the honest hard working drunk is struggling to put together a day!!!! And that was how AA managed to form an opinion on an outside issue AFTER the founder tried LSD to address, of all things, mental illness.

  26. Well, I am sure if the founders, Bill and Bob were around, they would be in favor of medical cannabis once they understood it. I also believe they would have had a much more open mind than currently is in effect

  27. Anon says:

    I’ve been going to Aa for over a year and love it. I have not drank since I decided to go in. I also have a marijuana card as I have chronic pain(wa state). I don’t tell anyone about it at Aa though. I would prefer if people don’t talk shit about it at meetings. I have never blacked out and gotten raped from smoking weed. That’s why I’m there. I’d rather marijuana not exclude people from coming to Aa because I really need it to stay safe.

  28. Thanks! I was hoping someone would pick up the ball. :)

  29. Shagan says:

    Raven and any other AA members with long term sobriety please email me at shagan@shagan.org. I had 6 months of sobriety, smoked herb for 3 weeks, told my support group and sponsor, reset my sobriety date to August 30, 2010 and stopped smoking herb. I am currently working the 12 steps and still continue my sobriety. I am wanting to study and keep tabs on levels of human spirituality and happiness for alcoholics using marijuana. Again please email me at shagan@shagan.org so we can perhaps check in once a week or whenever you are available to chart trends with marijuana use by alcoholics.

  30. Raven says:

    This is a very interesting topic. I was sober in AA for 13 years and very active in the program. I moved to NorCal and started working with medical Marijuana. I was going to AA and had a sponsor and still very leary about crossing the MJ divide. I was making MJ cookies and just had to taste them. What happened was it started a whole experimentation period. I now use cookies about once a week and smoke a little a few times a week. I no longer go to AA because I feel conflicted. I do not consider myself sober as I have gotten hella stoned at times and I DO think it affects me from the neck up big time. I have been using MJ for about 7 months now and have not had a drink. I feel as if my time in AA has been fantastic and I have a clear picture of what an alcoholic is and that I am one. I know that to drink for me is suicide. I thank AA for being there when I was in serious trouble and changing my life, however, after 13 years of being deeply entrenced in AA recovery, I feel I’ve got it now. I am not happier or living a more productive life now than I was in AA, and am considering getting back to basics. But one of the things I do like is that I am no longer steeped in judgements, I feel as if I am finding my own way and not living in fear.

  31. I could not agree more. GreenBridge still stands to offer space for a meeting where cannabis can be discussed if we get enough interest.

  32. Catherine says:

    I am currently in AA and use cannabis medically. I often feel I do not belong there and cannot tell my sponser, who incidentally (and like many of her AA friends, have taken up smoking during sobriety (cigarettes, that is.))

    I just feel uncomfortable at AA meetings being that I felt I had a problem wit cannabis yet 6 months of not using it proved to be an experiment in medical need for a few medical conditions I suffer from. I was miserable without and taking more medication without it (not for a high.)

    So I am being more conscious of how I use it and yet I feel it is a barrier to me making close friends in AA or even meeting a sober guy. So I just go to AA to stay away from alcohol and don’t really feel like the whole sponsership thing is for me anymore.

    Not sure what to do. However, I do feel that while AA has come around regarding people on meds for serious psych issues, they should also come around to the fact that medical marijuana is just another treatment option for many conditions.

    I will keep going to meetings however, as they “deal with alcohol.”

  33. I agree 100%. I wonder if there is enough support in the west la area to start a small meeting?

  34. FeelsGood says:

    As a medicinal marijuana user I can say that it has benefited me quite a bit. I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar and the substances given to me after getting sober to “calm” me down were so harmful to my body that I had to stop. The marijuana helps the manic episodes but the depression i feel is exacerbated by it. Its hard because the meetings are supposed to be there to help with that but then you are looked badly upon for using a substance because it “alters your state” but for any medicine such as advil, tylenol or even vitamins that “alters your state” as well and it bothers me that because so many people abuse marijuana it is looked at as a bad habit but when used the right way cannibus can serve as a great tool to assist in your recovery from any major substance abuse problem. I wish Dr. Bill was still around because I do feel that the way the group has made a turn into “cultism” and “biasedness” would really kill him. His group was made to help those with problems in way he could, not to segregate, belittle and force ideals on people.

  35. Very good point. In fact, there are now convincing studies that people with substance use issues nearly always have a difference in their left sided frontal lobe.

    To further drive the point home, “harm reduction” is the use of certain medications or programs to reduce the risk of the patient’s current damaging substance issue. Cannabis is very successful in achieving this.

  36. William says:

    The way I see it people abuse substances to begin with because they’re in an altered state-mentally or emotionally unbalanced. The medical evidence is there, certain receptors or what not just do not work properly. Some people simply need medication (mind altering or not) to lead a regular life mentally and emotionally balanced. Words from a book won’t fix your brain receptors, so, by that logic it can be very detrimental to stop medications on relative blind faith.

  37. Thank you for your well considered thoughts. I would agree that if the patients in AA use cannabis to get “ripped” and their level of intoxication is obvious to the point it interferes with their sobriety, it is a huge issue.

    On the other hand, “harm reduction” therapy, using Medical Cannabis is a fairly controlled situation I believe is something that can work. For example, if a patient in AA meets with their sponsor or is stoned at a meeting, it is a real issue. In my opinion, it would be
    the same issue as a patient using excessive xanax or vicodan, as you mentioned, but taking more than they should be on.

    Cannabis, particularly in it’s “tincture”/drop form, is a way to very safely use cannabis without smoking and entirely without getting ripped. I have many patients who use their Sativa Tincture during the day and nobody would know they were taking anything. They are just more in control and much calmer – but with very clear focus. This is how it should be done “medically” and I do believe that Dr. Bob would endorse it.

  38. Earl says:

    This subject has come up recently in AA meetings where I live, since medical marijuana is now legal here.

    Personally, I don’t see the difference between smoking medical mj and taking other prescribed medications…and I guarantee you that if AA sobriety was defined as the absence of Xanax and Prozac, a whole lot of people would be resetting their sobriety dates…probably a lot of the same people who are up in arms about the pot smokers.

    I have not used mj during my 5 yrs in recovery, because frankly, i don’t see myself getting to a lot of meetings, calling my sponsor, working with other alcoholics, etc. if i am baked all the time. and these are all things i need to do to treat my alcoholism….and therefore i see mj use as a threat to my sobriety from alcohol.

    Also, i would not sponsor someone who is smoking mj and sober from alcohol, because i simply don’t have the experience of getting or staying sober from alcohol while smoking pot, and sponsorship in my opinion is taking someone throught the work the way i did it.

    i also don’t know of anyone with long term sobriety who smokes pot (at least they aren’t telling me they do)

    i think in the end…traditions Three and Ten apply…as well as “rigorous honesty” but this is indeed a hot controversial topic.

  39. Aaron says:

    I have 1 year 6 months and 10 days without alcohol … I have been going to meetings the whole time … I currently attend 4 meetings a week, I have a sponsor, and I have worked the steps …. My life has improved in MANY ways…. I have also been smoking “medical” marijuana for this whole time … I do not go to meetings high, and work a good program … Friends in AA all say I am doing great, and bring up how I used to be 1+ years ago … AA is working for me … Nobody in AA knows about the MJ … I know what the response will be (contemt prior to investigation ??) … I have put in place my own “dont ask dont tell” policy … If someone asked me about it directly I would be honest, but I see no need to volunteer that information… I dont want to argue the merits of MJ good or bad … this is a choice I have made and am happy with … for me it comes down to 2 things …. 1) to thine own self be true and 2) the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking ….. Am I looking at this in a healthy light ??

  40. andee says:

    I have been sober for 2 and a half years through the help of AA. I suffer from excruciating back pain. My options seem to be cortizone shots then surgery or heavy drugs which are habit forming among other side effects which I don’t want to live with. I haven’t smoked pot in some years but I know it to be a pain reliever as well as muscle relaxer. It seems like a resonable solution to me but without consulting my sponsor, I know what her reaction would be. I am interested in other anonymous opinions about marijuana green cards for the use in chronic pain.
    Thank You

  41. GAMBRON says:

    Your welcome Allan, pardon the dely in my response.

    Yes, I know many AAs in my area, it is a sensitive subject, even dealing with it on a perscription level requires some tact, especially with in an AA Group here. My case is even more suspect as I persued expermentation to asses that I could use it safely and then persued a perscription. (mind you though I had 20 years of great sobriety before making the decision)

    I recently had the good fortune though of speaking about my experiment with my old alcohol treatment counselor from 1988, he’s 36 years sober now. He expressed my movies were OK and pointed out that Bill Wilson founder of AA experimented with LSD in the 50s and he wasn’t compelled to take a drink. He agreed I should persue a perscription before discussing it with most AAs. All though Bill Wilson worked closely with the doctors on the matter he discontinued the research to calm controversy. The AA Publication “Pass it On” The Story of Bill Wilson and How The Message Reaced The World (see Chapter 23).

    I have personally relate to a good deal to Bill’s story and his spiritual experiences. In The matter of LSD though I have not used this substence in sobriety, but at times the use of marijuana does mildly parallel. My objective is to be more available, present, not altered. With mild use I can go to an AA meeting and participate, when at times when in pain or fatigue I could hardly listen until the end of the meeting when it would subsided a little.

    Anyway glad to sharing my experience. This could be passed on to an meeting with AA members who are dually diagnosed.

    I would be glad to help and participate in a chat AA group on the matter. As I am here in Oregon. It would be a pleasure to visit with you and to continue to expanding our knowledge and perspective in helping people to cope with pain and illness in sobriety.

    We still know only a little about Canibis and all it’s properties. The ancients (shamans) may hold some keys as well as future science.

    It’s not so sticky really as we don’t need to tell all to everyone. When we do confession or the 5th step we go to a person who understands our condition (using discretion) and who will understand where we are coming from, yet be honest with us to help us discover our real motives.

    Appreciating sobriety, gratitude and developing our spiritual life, release from dis-ease and being honest with ourselves. These are the qualities that transport us to a world of usefulness and a secure place in our family and community. We are restored to sanity.

    Share this with all you feel could benefit and give them my email address. As my real name isn’t identified, I’m Anonymous.

    I welcome anyone to contact me.


    Thank you Dr. Frankel for your service, wisdom and openmindedness.


  42. Thank you so much for sharing. If you have read other comments to my blog, it is clear that there is a very large split in the AA community regarding this issue. I applaud what you are doing. It is sad in my opinion that the folks that “should” be the most open often become the most rigid. I understand and respect their position and how they run their lives and program.

    However, this in no way, at least in my opinion, means that ALL of AA needs to be this way. I would be very interested in meeting with you – no charge. I am not sure what the need is in the community. Most importantly, we need to figure out how to keep this anonymous while patients are also going to other meetings. Sticky wicket, as they say.

  43. GAMBRON says:

    I have 22 years of sobriety and I’m an avid aa member working the 12steps daily. 2 years ago I decided to take small dosages (half toke or less) as a means of testing my relief from back pain levels, and fatigue. It restores a fair amount of my energy, relaxes my back, back pops and it relaxes when I would normally have to meditate and use yoga for 2 or more hours. I do not volunteer my information with AAs who I know will only judge from their perspective, I attend 2 meetings a week and have a sponsor (have not volunteered my info yet due to prejudgementalism). I used it cosciously and I don’t like being stoned or even very high and I meditate with it as well (shorter periods). I have had periods of overuse quite unconfortable to me. I have identified the strains that work the best to be most effective with pain while minimal mind altering. I am ready to consider applying for a perscription after this use as I feel confortable with the light doses.

    I have more experience to share if that may be of interest and I’m interested in meeting with others who are addicts who work a good program and have similar experiences.

    Thanks for this forum. I look forward to your thoughts

    Allan Frankel if you can connect me with some of the people you treat on the matter perhaps?



  44. I know that and I agree with you. As a physician I view it a bit differently. I believe I have seen hundreds of patients in AA who use cannabis. They rarely run into one another and they rarely if ever bring it up. So, to begin with, the reality is that many people in AA are in fact using cannabis and just lie about it. In my opinion, Dr. Bill would have felt that if it is prescribed/ordered/recommended by a physician, that it was ok. AA has changed a lot. It helps millions of people, but I think in part it should return to it’s roots by rethinking whether any mind alteration is bad??

    In my final analysis most problems come down to a choice between two imperfect options. I would just rather see a patient be “altered” by cannabis that “slip” in a big way. Tough problem.

  45. Cam Sinclair says:

    I think it is a great idea but not for people who “abuse” Cannabis–not for medicinal means. It could definitely work for hardcore substance abuse including alcohol.

  46. Kat says:

    As a friend and family member of people in various stages of recovery, I feel I can offer some insight. Addicts for the most part are not addicted to the actual substance, but the way it makes them feel. Most recovering Alcoholics are hesitant to use painkillers such as Vicodin, as it can make you “high” or alter your state. That is why there is resistance from AA supporting medical marijuana; whether for recreation or medicine, it still alters states.

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