Conclusions: Tens of millions of Americans have successfully resolved an AOD problem using a variety of traditional and non-traditional means. Findings suggest a need for a broadening of the menu of self-change and community-based options that can facilitate and support long-term AOD problem resolution.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6076174/  (Washington Post)

It was an adult who made me smoke my first hashish joint. A man of about forty years who loved little children. I was 15 years old. I did not feel anything the first time. It is a funny phenomenon, the first joint that does not do anything. This often happens it seems. By the second joint, I was addicted.

I had always struggled to make friends, instantly I was part of a group in high school: the "freaks". I did not even know what it meant, but I was proud of it. Very quickly, I had to smoke every day. I financed this operation by hitch-hiking and accepting the advances of the men who picked me up.

Since I was only doing from time to time, I was convinced that I wasn’t really prostituting myself. I continued throughout my senior high school.

A few years later, at the CEGEP, I promised myself not to go to class stoned. Two weeks later, sitting on the steps at the exit doors of the school smoking a joint with students as lost as I did, I realized that I had a problem.

I had moments of common sense in my twenties and even managing to go three years without smoking. Unfortunately, unable to understand my compulsion to consume THC, my emotional state ranged from despair to euphoria, with no stability in the middle. I am not bipolar, but years of managing my emotions with marijuana had left me vulnerable and without the tools I needed to face the challenges of life.

My thirties led me to the bottom of the barrel. I spent eight years driving a taxi because I could smoke while working. A slave to marijuana, I had to smoke a joint every two hours. Beware, if you met me between the second and the third hour. My aggressiveness and lack of control resulted in assault charges and several visits to the judge. Fortunately, I got away without a criminal record.

I do not want to detail my descent into hell. The 15-year-old girl, for reasons that do not really matter, became a 40-year-old woman completely beaten by the seemingly innocent grass called marijuana.

Finally, I went to my first meeting of Marijuana Anonymous. I had been conditioned to believe it was impossible to become addicted to marijuana. Despite substantial evidence spanning more than two decades, I was amazed to learn that I was not alone. Cannabis is no longer a harmless herb that the hippie smoke in groups because the "high" does not make it aggressive as alcohol. The marijuana we smoke is the product of significant and constant genetic changes aimed at increasing the THC content.

If you read these lines asking yourself if you are mad to believe that marijuana is spoiling your life, I am here to tell you to be careful. There is a test called 12 questions from Marijuana Anonymous that will help you determine for yourself whether you are a Marijuana addict.

Many young people who try marijuana drop out before reaching 25 years. But an increasing percentage does not manage to drop even when they try. This observation is empirical and is stated because of the increasing number of young people who arrive at our meetings completely upset to see that they are addicted to marijuana. Those who remain hooked smoke more and more, the rest of their lives. Many commit suicide, others find themselves in prison. Richard M., father of two little girls, a daily user, found hung in his new apartment. Reynald F., a daily user, found hanging from a tree on Île Sainte-Hélène. Roger R., spent 4 years in prison for attempted murder of a police officer who had harassed him for four days after quitting. Were these people smoking because they were depressed and aggressive? Is it that marijuana caused this infinite misery? It's the story of the egg and the chicken ...

For my part, at 40, I was beaten. I did not wait to fall back. I accepted all the suggestions, I found a godmother. I practiced the spiritual principles revealed by the twelve steps. I have become rigorously honest, courageous and persevering. I now accept life as it comes and not as I would like it to be. I am interested in questions of faith and philosophy. I got married and had two children before becoming too old to realize my dream of having a family of my own.

Sometimes I am happy, sometimes unhappy. I accept both knowing that everything is going on, and I am grateful to live without marijuana one day at a time.

-Veronique. A-

What was the trigger/s? (What was happening in your world at the time? Who were the people around you? fun, pain, peer pressure etc)

At the time of my drug use my mother had died aged 4, two weeks later my dad put us into a foster home and hell started, coming out of home I was 8,  he remarried only for that to last three years and I came home one day thought we were robbed as our stepmum packed up and left, from then my father wasn’t around and there was a tremendous amount of peer pressure from my sisters friends who were all smoking dope every morning.

What, if any, warning signs or prompts did you get and ignored when you started? What lead you to ignoring the warnings?

No warning signs for me unfortunately, as there was no parental guidance in the house

What have you lost as the result of your drug use?

Besides 14 years of my life from 11 to 25, I guess you just don’t know but as someone who is highly intelligent, athletically gifted and as a junior a promising footballer who knows what I could of accomplished

What have you learnt?

Drugs respect no one, demands everything, takes everything, destroys everything, you may think its only occasional whatever it is you are taking and that’s the subtle lie of drugs before you know it 10 years has gone by and you could have bought a house, your circle of friends has shrunk the friends you do have really aren’t your friends, wait until the cops come knocking or someone dies….drugs attract drug users and that’s it, everyone out for themselves.

Why don’t you go back?

As someone who has spent thousands of dollars in counselling  to understand the triggers of my drug taking all being emotionally dysfunctional and broken home related amongst other things, I’m married to an amazing wife 5 gorgeous children and most importantly I know who I am, when you search for your soul in a silver spoon you will never find an answer but a feeling.  If you actually took the time to recognise what you are actually seeking can only be found in who you are then that silver spoon will become irrelevant, all the hard work of attending a rehab, focusing on getting myself right, learning to dream and think what a future looked like the for the first time was terrifying, but far less terrifying than living with no hope and no dreams.

After 20 years now I could never go back, living on the streets, squatting, living in the lies, living in fear of being raided, seeing friends die from overdoses, people being murdered, families and communities been torn apart by psychotic, paranoia episodes.

Finish this sentence: I wish I never…

Ever see Drugs again as long as I live.

Signed C.R.



When did your drug use start?  (How old were you?)

I first began to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol at the age of 16 and I first smoked marijuana at age 18.

What was the trigger/s?(What was happening in your world at the time? Who were the people around you?)

I was pretty shy, had changed schools and had made only a few close friends. I guess I just wanted to fit in and began to follow the crowd. The daring side of this behaviour seemed like a bit of fun.

What, if any, warning signs or prompts did you get and ignored when you started? What lead you to ignoring the warnings?

I honestly can’t remember any particular warning signs. We had no school drug & alcohol education when I was young. I’m not blaming anyone for this, it just wasn’t considered necessary back then. I gradually slid down the slippery slope into the drug world and just lost touch with reality. The drug world had become my new reality.

What have you lost as the result of your drug use?

In 1982 I contracted Hepatitis B and suffered severe complications. My antibodies attacked my organs rather than the disease. I ended up in the Alfred hospital Coronary Care Unit with acute heart & kidney failure. I was given less than 2 hours to live. I was 25 years old. Miraculously I survived but spent almost five months in hospital. As a result of my drug use and related illness, I have been left with damage to both kidneys and from the age of 25 have required medication, which has its side effects. I have not touched an illicit drug since.

Against all medical expectation I was blessed with three amazing children, but not without some complications. One of my children has a mild disability, most likely due to me going into kidney failure 6 weeks early when I was carrying him.

My ex-husband also battled heroin addiction for many years after that time until I said “enough” and ended our marriage. Addiction is a horrendous soul and life destroying problem.

What have you learnt?

Drugs destroy lives!

But I have also learnt that there is hope, and life beyond drug addiction. One of the big lessons I have learnt from my journey is that young people need to have a dream/vision/goal in their lives in order to avoid heading down the path of drugs and alcohol. Having a plan for the future gives a person’s life purpose and hope. Without some sort of vision or goal it is so easy to just drift along and get swayed by the crowd. I had no dream. I went to school, got a job and partied.

Why don’t you go back to using drugs?

Although I was tempted many times to use drugs again, with others around me still using, I have had three main reasons for abstaining.

Firstly, being left with kidney damage caused me to really think about the possibility of death as a result of using drugs again. (It is amazing that even with people all around them dying from drug O.D.s, drug addicts rarely think it will happen to them.)

Secondly, my illness brought me back to reality and I soon began to recognise the destruction and devastation of drug and alcohol addiction across our society and across the world.

Thirdly, I now see that the people who most want people, young and old, to use drugs and drink alcohol are the drug lords and dealers of this world and the liquor industry. It is all about money to them. This causes me to feel outraged.

Finish this sentence: I wish I never…

I wish I never used illicit drugs of any kind. I have had a pretty tough life, as a direct consequence of the decisions I made as a teenager. Those decisions have affected the whole of my life.

Not only have I personally suffered, physically, emotionally and financially, but I have also seen so much of the destruction of both drug and alcohol addiction across our society.

I now speak in schools with a passionate drug & alcohol message in an attempt to warn as many youth as possible, of the dangers of heading down the path of drug & alcohol use.

Kerryn R


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