December 14th, 2012 | Add a Comment
If you are a drug addict who is relying on alcoholics anonymous to provide the help and support you need to stay sober, you may experience some compatibility issues. I was once told that AA meetings are the same as any other 12 step meeting, because you can substitute your drug of choice (if it is something other than alcohol, wherever the steps ,big book or speaker mentions alcohol. Please let me say that after thorough investigation, this is NOT true. AA meetings do not provide perfect universal appeal. I have been to well over 100 AA meetings in the past several months. During most of that time, I thought that going to these meetings would benefit me as much as any other meeting would. However, these meetings focused on helping people recover from alcohol and not Marijuana, which is my drug of choice. There are a lot of factors that play into why going to a 12 step meeting centered on your drug of choice is more beneficial than going to one that is not.
There is something about 12 step meetings that are geared directly toward addicts recovering from the green smoke that allowed me to see eye to eye with others. Rather than talking about alcohol, we had common ground when discussing marijuana. Drugs are different from alcohol and so are drug oriented meetings different from alcoholic meetings. For most of us in recovery, the greatest benefit will be found at meetings that specifically address our drug of choice as we will be able to connect with each other more effectively.
After I had been talking with my AA sponsor for a couple of months, I realized that our relationship wouldn’t last. The connection was not strong and the main reason for this was that our drug of choice was not the same. I feel that ever since I told him that I was not an alcoholic, but rather a marijuana addict he never treated me or viewed me the same. He is an alcoholic and since I am not our common ground was limited. He expects me to identify as an Alcoholic when I feel very strongly that alcohol was or is not a problem for me. I understand that as a Marijuana addict I need to abstain from alcohol, but I am not comfortable saying I am an alcoholic.
After our sponsor-sponsee relationship fell through, I informed my therapist of the situation. He let me know that what happened is nothing to worry about. My ex-sponsor was kind of common anyhow. It was now more important to continue going to meetings and search for another sponsor. My therapist suggested going to “Marijuana Anonymous” instead of the AA meetings that I had been going to. These meetings are the 12-step equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, but focused on Marijuana addiction.
I immediately noticed that the vibe at MA meetings was very different than AA meetings. The vibe was much less dire than at some AA meetings I have been too. However, most everything was the same at both meetings. The format, steps, introductions, sobriety, common goals and overall experience were the same or similar. It is important to understand that all 12-step meetings require complete and total abstinence from all mind-altering substances in order to be eligible for celebrating a birthday and being recognized with a cake. For people who are just trying to quit drugs and be honest about things, this may be frustrating. For example, some people have European roots and beer and wine are just a part of family life and culture. They are not problem drinkers or alcoholics, so they feel like and are able to take an occasional beer or glass of wine with dinner or with their family without dire consequences. I personally feel like I fall into this category and feel that this should not disqualify them or me from celebrating one year clean from Marijuana and taking a cake.
Regardless of whether or not I can take a cake in the MA meetings, they have proven to be more helpful to me than AA or NA meetings. Not all 12-step meetings are the same. Different substances lead to different meetings, and have very different vibes. If you are having a hard time relating at AA or NA meetings, try going to a 12 step meeting that is focused on your drug of choice. It could make all the difference in your life and help you find the recovery you are searching for.
Written by T4A Admin
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