Without fail, at least one Twelve Step meeting a month will see someone bring up the idea of medical marijuana and sobriety. Maybe an old timer wants to revisit the subject. It could be a newcomer to the tables that has a legitimate question. Regardless, the answers are all over the map, but with a few simple guidelines, it may be beneficial.

If medical marijuana is allowed — legally — in your state, will it impact your sobriety? Will having access to a medical marijuana dispensary mean your recovery is jeopardized? These are a couple of questions to consider if you’ve been struggling with addiction. After all, laws don’t have much to do when it comes to the reality of our addiction.

An active addict won’t keep from abusing a drug if a physician writes a legitimate pain relief prescription. In the same light, if you are battling alcoholism or drug addiction be careful about justifying medical marijuana as a tool to treat an illness. Learn the laws and talk with your sponsor, trusted family members and healthcare providers. Make your decisions with a clear head.

Many states allow medical marijuana dispensaries where a mind-mood altering substance might be available to people struggling with addictions.

Physicians don’t prescribe medical marijuana in the same manner as traditionally prescribed medicines. Physicians “recommend” it. Not every physician supports the use of medical marijuana, so the physician’s personal viewpoint comes into play.

One frequent argument against medically recommended marijuana is that doctors without ethics could be tempted to swap ID cards for cash instead of a medical need on the patient’s part.

With a legitimate ID card, a person can buy medical marijuana in a variety of forms from a dispensary. The forms are presented to the dispensary where the patient may, or may not, be required to be a member of a collective. The patient must be 21 or over and the purchased amount is typically limited.

If a physician recommends you to use medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary   — and you are in recovery — be honest with yourself, your recovery team and your health care providers.

Medical Uses

There is no argument that marijuana has medicinal properties and can be an effective treatment for numerous conditions. Pot has been proven to relieve pain and reduce symptoms of several disorders, including muscle, digestive, depression and anxiety. Marijuana has been shown to give people with chronic pain a sense of relief.

In Sobriety

Using medical marijuana in recovery can be a slippery slope. While medicinal marijuana can treat issues that recovering individuals may struggle with, all non-medicinal options should be explored with a qualified health care provider before taking ANY medication — including marijuana. The potential for abuse in recovering addicts and alcoholics is high.

There are valid uses for recovering addicts and alcoholics. If someone is suffering incapacitating pain from chemotherapy, medicinal marijuana can be a blessing. Individuals in recovery should never be refused medication they need to perform daily — despite of the potential for abuse.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to using pot for pain in sobriety. It is helpful, and people in recovery need to be extra vigilant of their motives.

Accountability is crucial in getting and staying sober. Medical marijuana may be helpful, but be sure it isn’t something you abuse simply because it’s available.