Is it okay for a recovering addict to smoke pot?


Is it okay to smoke some weed


JoeHerzanekQ Is it okay for a recovering addict
to smoke pot?

A. No

This has also been referred to as the “marijuana maintenance plan.”
Regardless of what a person’s past drugs of choice were, smoking pot
during recovery is a very bad idea.

Many people who have tried this have ended up with one of two results:
the same lack of control and abuse problem with smoking pot, or a return to their drug of choice.
Drug users tend to make poor choices while under the influence
of any mind-altering drug. Good intentions fly out the window when
any use begins.

This is actually just an attempt to continue using something—
anything—rather than remain substance free. In order to set the record straight and make this simple, below are questions I am asked over and over, and I’ve included the answers I give over and over.
Our persistent attempts to find a loophole can be quite
humorous at times!


JoeHerzanekQ Is it okay to smoke some weed once
in a while?

A. No


JoeHerzanekQ If I was a heroin addict and I quit that drug
completely, is it okay to just smoke some weed?

A. No


JoeHerzanekQ If I’m a recovering alcoholic, is it okay to
smoke some weed?

A. No


JoeHerzanekQ I’m in recovery, but since weed is found to
grow naturally in many places, is it okay
to just smoke weed?

A. No



Q Since weed is not really a drug, is it okay to
smoke some weed?

A. No


JoeHerzanekQ I heard about a guy in recovery that smokes
weed. Do you think I might be able to?

A. No


JoeHerzanekQ There is an organization called NORMAL.
If a group like this is able to get marijuana legalized,
do you think I could just smoke weed?

A. No


JoeHerzanekQ I’ve heard about smoking “medical marijuana” for people
with health problems. What’s up with this?

A. This is one really bad idea.


Supposedly for pain relief, it is now possible to get a medical marijuana
(MM) card. The typical MM card-holder is a twenty-three-year-old
male. Even if it were true that we have high numbers of young males
with chronic pain—smoking marijuana for “medical reasons” is still a
mistake. First of all, it is very easy to just extract the active ingredient,
THC, and use it in pill-form. Why inhale the smoke into the lungs, other
than to get the quicker rush, or “high” the drug produces?

Secondly, this is one more way of throwing our hands up in the air and saying
“People are just going to get stoned and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Do we, as a nation, want to make it easier for young people to get stoned? Personaly, I don’t think so. Lastly, marijuana addiction is number three on the list of reasons people seek treatment. The first is alcohol, second is for
opiates (pain meds) and then marijuana. After these three, come cocaine, and methamphetamine.

“We owe it to the people we serve to speak out
about the unintended consequences legalization (of
marijuana) would have and the toll it would take on the
health and safety of our communities.”
“Over the course of my career, from St. Petersburg
to Seattle, I learned a lot about the damage drug abuse
does to the fabric of our society—and about the terrible
toll it takes on individuals, families and communities
across this country,” Kerlikowske told his former peers.
“I’ll never forget the rage and despair I felt when I
worked undercover and I saw a drug dealer take a hit of
marijuana—and then blow the smoke in the face of his toddler.”

~Gil Kerlikowske, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy
(comments from a speech given at the International Conference of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention, October 23, 2009).


Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.This “Q & A with Joe” is excerpted from Part 5 of “Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.”


Affordable Phone Counseling for Families Dealing with Substance Abuse
>How can I know if my addicted friend or loved one is telling the truth?

>”I need help because I’m not able to deal with my live-in Fiance’s need to get drunk every night.”

>Should my husband “back off?”

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21 thoughts on “Is it okay for a recovering addict to smoke pot?

  1. Joe

    Thanks for the comment Eddie. The website looks great! Sober Living homes are a superb and usually affordable option for the early months in recovery.

  2. Eddie

    Thanks for the information. I agree with you 100 percent that smoking marijuana while trying to recover from ‘harder’ drugs can be detrimental. I got help from a sober living called New Life House. Check out their website fi you are looking for help.

  3. Jenny

    Fighting one addiction with another is not a smart decision. Marijuana can be harmful to your health , just like alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs.

  4. Cathy | Treatment Talk

    Hi Joe,

    I’ve heard so many say, “But it’s just, weed or pot or marijuana.” Yet, I have seen the damage first hand with a family member and know what it can do. The lack of motivation, the loss of your dreams, the lack of self esteem, the lack of self confidence, the forgetfulness, the pulling away from family and former friends, isolating and realization that others are moving ahead with their lives and the pot smoker is not. It’s very sad. People write off weed as harmless, and I just don’t agree. As I’ve said, I’ve personally seen the damage that weed can do.

  5. Joe

    Dear Mickie,

    Thanks for the post. It looks like we will have to agree to disagree. I hope your son continues to improve and also ends his marijuana use at some point soon. My personal belief and hope is that people will learn coping skills to handle life’s stresses and not use any psycho-active drugs. Most pot users use because they want to get stoned. Maybe your son is different. Best, Joe

  6. mickle

    What a bogus bunch of crud. There are thousands and thousands of doctor, spchyciatrist lining the pockets of pharmaceutical companies shoving large amounts of mood altering drugs down recovering alcoholics and addicts because they suffer from adhd, mood swings “bipolar disorder” anxiety, depression, ‘ ect ‘ I wonder if you think that is ok for An addict or alcoholic? The side affects and damage these drugs cause are dangerous as hell. So many damn suicides, health issues this stuff causes is enormous. I would like to see you post the statistics of marijuana deaths over the last year. Hell go back 5 years. Let’s not get it twisted. And for the person that said parents that use mj aren’t focused on their kids. Do you know what yours are doing behind closed doors. If a crack or meth addict wants to get high they will go get their drug of choice. As a mother of a teen who by the way never seen me touch a drug and was raised in the rooms of alcoholics anonymous I have to be realistic. He chooses his destiny and must learn From his own experiences. By the way. Since he has started smoking his anger outbursts are in the wind. See he had them before he started. They began at preschool age. I never even smoked a cigarette with any of my kids. But I guess if the doctors had it their way he would be on a pill to alter his mood. Duhhhhh!

  7. Joe

    Thanks Pamela-
    I couldn’t agree more. The TRUE MEDICAL BENEFITS from smoking weed are miniscule, at best–perhaps one in a thousand card holders. The last thing this country needs is more teens and young adults driving around stoned 🙁

  8. Pamela Cohen

    No country will be better off with more stoned adults. I am weary of hearing all the excuses and how ‘good’ pot is for medical conditions. I am sure it can be used for certain patients, but the median age- (23) yr. old males tells all.

    That is how old the MMP/grower was that rented my house, making non-authorized electrical changes, punching in the shower, and exhibiting narcissistic, paranoid/stoned behavior. He had gotten in trouble as a teen for pot. How is it going to rebuild his knees? It cost me 2 years of court cases, as they could afford an attorney, and I couldn’t. Finally the insurance company paid a claim for the vandalism, but couldn’t return the financial damages that occurred, or most of the physical, nor the stress of all of it.
    House fire ratios, invasive odors for neighbors and crime only flavor the pot debate further.

    Our children are running on low or no octane parenting as it is, in our 50% + divorced family nation, and both parents working makes for no guidance during after-school hours for most. How are unavailable drug-using parents going to model healthy relating or be there for their kids, families or neighbors? We are already partially brain dead and unavailable with our tv habits and computer-invested time.
    Ghetto Valley is just that. Verbally abusive, and in need of finishing school or a clear mind.


    There exists no part-time addiction in today’s Oxycontin/Heroin epidemic. The need to feed their addiction is a job our children are forced to work all day, every day. The work is all consuming, as the addiction master forces your enslaved child pay homage. There are no time outs as the Master drives your child. You are in the game or your not!

    The first time I heard the term “Marijuana maintenance” I was not aware of my own child’s addiction. In its pure definition, Marijuana maintenance is the substitution of Pot or Alcohol as a person attempts to stop their drug of choice. People often say “It’s only Pot and all kids do it.” After watching my son’s full blown war with addiction, I would never again turn a blind eye to any child and allow them to dabble in any recreational drug usage. Ultimately offered a choice to my son, “You can stay straight and live at home or choose to continue the drug use and find other living conditions”. For my son to reside in my home, he would opt to use only drugs prescribed by a physician, in the manner intended. There would be no “marijuana maintenance” under my roof. Again they are in the game or they are not!

    After being used and manipulated by my addict son, I was too tired to play the game any longer. After the years of finding roaches, pipes, ghetto bongs, Q-Tips, and having no spoons in my silverware drawer, I was done. I was mentally exhausted from the inevitable “cat and mouse game” that goes on between an addicted child and a parent. It was a game I would play no longer on my “home court”. Missing bank checks, iPods, and jewelry would no longer be accepted as the norm.

    My son had entered a Boston recovery facility and had managed to finally stay clean for a few months. I was elated as I saw my son take his first strong stab at recovery. I was new to recovery and addiction, and believed him when he told me “Dad I am feeling good. I will never go back to that life. I am cured.” He felt he had beaten the demon that had controlled him from a tender age. His addict brain told him with the demon gone, he was once again free to okay to ‘drink beers with the boys'” After those few beers and a quick slip back to the needle, he professed “I thought I was normal again! I can not believe how fast I shot dope again ” Those few beers, for my son were the equivalent of a match to a can of gasoline. They quickly ignited an explosion of his addiction! You are in the game or your not. With other addicts the descent into opioid hell can be far more methodical. They may be able to smoke a few joints or drink a few beers for a while, but from my observations as a parent, the destination is the same; a living hell. This hell is comprised of jail cells, lies, broken families, and possibly death.

    Turning the “blind eye” to a child to a child that is fighting an opiate addiction as a substitute to drink or smoking pot is a total collaboration with the addiction. Eventually the addict’s inhibitions are lowered and rational decisions are clouded.

    Many parents try to bargain with the addiction that consumes their child. If it is only Marijuana or a few beers, the parent will look the other way, in hopes that their child will “grow out of it”. For my son, the only growth the occurred was that of the Genie of Addiction, once again let out of the addiction lamp to run rampant on the entire household.

    Today there is a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol usage by the children in my home. I simply don’t have the energy to participate in the cat and mouse game that every parent will inevitably lose. I’m out of the game! Life on the sidelines is far healthier.

  10. GT

    From a harm-reduction standpoint, is it better for someone to smoke weed than do heroin or other “hard” drugs? Yes.

    From a recovery perspective, the use of any mind-altering substance (includes process addictions) prevents one from “living life on life’s terms” and, therefore, prevents one from learning alternate ways to cope with stressors and live a fully-functioning productive life.

  11. jherzanek Post author

    If anyone needs backup info, you can search for “Is it okay for a recovering addict to smoke pot?” and you will get 1,230,000 different results. Take your pick.

  12. Martha

    Every time my son relapses, it starts with weed and/or alcohol. He starts with them and then it’s only a matter of time before the other shoe falls.

  13. Jennifer

    This conversation reminds me of some of the backlash I’ve received from saying exactly what Joe is saying here.
    It scares me when people defend marijuana – and I’m not sure what else I should say other than – it hurts your brain. And as a mother of teenager who thinks it’s “no big deal,” it makes me so sad to think of the damage he is causing his body.

  14. Ghetto Valley

    Joe you are making some pretty wild claims here without so much as one reference. What you are doing here is wrong. You are pulling all of these anti-marijuana facts out of your ugly old wrinkled ass, Joe. I can’t wait until your generation finally dies off, then maybe we can get something done in this country.

  15. Shawnn

    So, Elaine, I’m reading from your comment that you’re blaming the behaviors of your family not on the alcohol, or crack, or hallucinogen, but only on the marijuana? Please.

    And, Joe, you are not the expert, nor even a valid attempt, in my opinion, as you blanket your statements together, but I’ve not seen any real explanation of your viewpoints. And, no, I’m not wasting money on your book. I’ve not done any scientific studies, but personal observation has shown me myriad benefits from smoking. My grandmother, dying of cancer, was able to eat. My Aunt, with glaucoma, has had her condition improved due to THC. My OWN eyesight, which almost qualified as legally blind 20 years ago is IMPROVING.

    I don’t HAVE to smoke, I don’t lie, cheat, or steal to support a “habit”. I spend no more on this than you do on alcohol, Joe, and I bet you have a cabinet full of that.

    Oh, and before you start the psychoanalysis, I’ll add: I’m gainfully employed, a successful mother of 2 well grown, well mannered children, and wife of over 21 years. A drug addict cannot say the same.

    I will thank you for the laugh. Your responses are reminiscent of the original call for prohibition of cannibis: “The negros will smoke it with your white women, and they will lose control and dance and have sex”. There was an actual poster stating that, along with the lewd drawings that were supposed to make you think the worst. By a bunch of men who thought that “they knew best” for the rest of us.

  16. Margie

    As a student in the addiction field, I would be interested in the studies to which Ray is referring. I recently saw a study showing that THC isn’t even the pain relief component in marijuana. There is some fascinating study going on in the area of canabinoids.

    As an aside, what few people mention is that if you are using marijuana for medical reasons or recreation is that you aren’t supposed to drive. Marijuana has a pretty long half life, so a few joints on Saturday can still get you a DUI/DWI on Tuesday.

    I don’t view marijuana as harm reduction for other chemical addictions. The physical, social, mental and emotional issues that led to addiction need to be addressed, not masked with a different chemical.

  17. Joe

    Hi Elaine,
    Thanks for your comment to Rays comment. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I could add hundreds of more stories/examples like yours but I don’t think I, or we, could change Rays mind. It sounds to me like Ray has ‘found’ lots of reasons to continue to smoke dope rather than opt for complete abstinence and real sobriety. My goal in writing the book was never to make all people happy. As the old saying goes, there is a reason they call it dope 🙁

  18. Elaine

    I have three examples…my husband who is an alcoholic, my oldest son who’s DOC is addicted to crack and my youngest who is addicted to hallucinogens. All of them smoke pot and all of them still exhibit maladaptive behaviors that include; obsession with weed, agitation, inability to cope with daily tasks, inability to regulate emotions, risky behaviors, and no self motivation. Goals are not present except for in the immediate moment, and they still have distorted views on life and responses to life. An altered state of mind is still an altered state of mind…even if it is considered the lesser of two evils. Change must come from within. Period. If a person can’t resolve the issues that they are using a substance to escape, then how do they learn to cope without any substance ever? They don’t. Plain and simple.

  19. raysny

    You must have some pretty compelling evidence to be this adamant. Especially since it contradicts every study that I’ve seen on harm reduction.

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