Finding recovery using medical marijuana is real for many of us

I owe readers an apology, and not for the first time, especially lately. Last weekend I put up a post about people helping addicts find recovery with medical marijuana and, due to a perfect storm of imperfect circumstances, had to make the decision to take it down.

The concept of marijuana as a tool for recovery is not new — I’ll get to that in a second. However, a collective of folks have been developing their ideas around a medical marijuana recovery process here in Maine for a couple years now, including some of the people I blogged about in that aforementioned post.

Great people are involved — great people whose greatness comes from trying to rise above their broken pasts. Unfortunately, all these great people may not always agree about how to tell the story and who should tell it.

If I adequate resources for this blog, I’d have the time to flush the whole story out and explain in detail for readers. As things stand, though, I’ve already spent a relative bucket ton of my own time and resources on that last one. All I have time to do at this point is to emphasize what I was trying to say: finding recovery from addiction using medical marijuana as a tool is real.

How do I know? It’s how I maintain my recovery and how dozens of people I know maintain theirs. I learned it 30 years ago from someone who had been doing it for decades before I ever needed to find recovery. 

The unexpected news about the pending arrival of my oldest son was what prompted me to cold turkey after several years of increasingly excessive poly-substance abuse. At first I tried to maintain sobriety without any substances, pharmaceutical or otherwise.

The reality is, I am just too broken not to have some kind of tool to support a healthier brain chemistry than I have at baseline. A friend took the time to tell me about how he used marijuana, but no other drugs, to help keep himself from abusing alcohol and other drugs.

He taught me how to make tea and talked about the importance of ingesting marijuana this way in addition to smoking. It’s an age old concept that’s been working for countless people in a subculture way, and no one person owns it.

Medical marijuana is how Denny St. Pierre maintains his recovery — I wrote about him in the post I took down. He had been treating his addiction with methadone for 14 years but didn’t want to be tied to the clinic daily anymore. St. Pierre slowly reduced his dose of methadone while increasing his THC intake.

Eventually St. Pierre was able to spend a month living with support to detox from methadone entirely last spring. He feels free and in control of his life for the first time in years.

Medical marijuana helped Skylar Beard feel the same thing — I had written about him, too. Beard was elated telling me about how work was going since he went into recovery a year ago. He’s already seen his wages go up $6 an hour and is hopeful about his future.

Which was my secondary point in that previous post:  hope.

It’s easy to feel hopeless at this stage in this addiction epidemic. I know I’ve been feeling more and more hopeless about it watching it unfold here in the trenches for over a decade and a half now.

At first I felt hopeless because so many people in the medical and mental health and government communities just did not see this out of control train until it was too late. Lately I feel hopeless because it’s the hot topic for conversation, but no yet for actual, significant change.

And there are dead bodies everywhere. My children’s generation has been wiped out in a way that makes the Vietnam body count look like a meh.

So to instill a sense of hope, I still want to spread the message that marijuana as a tool for recovery can work for some of us, like Chet McNamara. As far as I know, there’s no one best practice established yet, but there are people getting better at the detox part of getting clean with each addict they help.

If you know someone for whom medical marijuana might be helpful on his or her path to recovery, please spread the word — or better yet, try to find a way to help support this person learning about this option.

Research it in every way you can, seek support, or just try on your own. It can be done.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.