A few weeks ago a college student from a university in Colorado came into an interview with a recruiter from a large national corporation (the recruiter reported to a friend of mine who heads up university relations and college recruiting). Based on telltale signs around smoking marijuana, she asked the student if he was high or stoned.
The student’s reply, which gets at the gist of the argument around the pros and cons of marijuana use, was that he had smoked, but he didn’t feel intoxicated. The recruiter was thoroughly nonplussed. In her confusion she simply asked how often he smoked and whether he thought he had a problem. He replied, three or four times a week, but he didn’t feel like he had a problem.
Whether you think marijuana use is or is not OK, or necessary for things like pain management, I think what most of us can agree upon is the growing concern for those with a habitual need for marijuana to function in daily life and perhaps an increased desire to help people overcome that need.
Suggesting someone seek help:
One of the many things I learned in my work as an attorney was a compassion for anyone dealing with addiction. This led me to take a more proactive stance in my legal work where 50% of my clients’ cases involved drugs or alcohol.
My first conversations with clients often went like this:
“We need to gather the evidence together and take a look at what the law says to determine what might happen in your case. In the meantime, one piece of evidence clearly says that alcohol/marijuana (drugs) were involved in your case. Now I’m not saying you have a problem, but let’s just say there is at least an issue that needs to be dealt with. How can I help?”
Options for getting help:
Then I would suggest drug or alcohol classes. In other cases I might recommend inpatient drug and alcohol therapy. Sometimes I would advise attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous). I would discuss the value of church and support groups to help foster a sense of community. I would help clients create goals. I would help them find those classes, I would check up on their progress and even drive them to classes. Ultimately, what this did was to take me out of the position of someone who judges and put me instead in the position of supporter and cheerleader. It was much more satisfying for me and more successful for many of them.
The clients that took my advice and leaned on me for help fared much better in the legal process than those who didn’t. And, anyone dealing with a substance abuse issue can start with similar steps long before they land across the table from an attorney.
But, there’s another approach – one that I rarely felt comfortable discussing but is worth considering because it freed me from addiction.
A spiritual approach to finding freedom from addiction:
My journey began, not as an effort to quit smoking tobacco, but simply as a desire to be a better person. When I think back to 13 years ago, what I remember is that when I felt stressed, I smoked; happy, I smoked; bored or uninspired, I would light up again. And often times I really didn’t even want to smoke a cigarette because of the smell, that feeling of lethargy after, coughing, etc. I couldn’t quit though. I had tried numerous times, but that would last for a month or two and then something would come up that started me down the path of smoking again.
As I moved down a new path to be a better person, it became clear to me that I needed to figure out my own sense of spirituality – my relationship with the Divine. One idea that spoke to me was “Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government. Truth makes man free…” from a book by Mary Baker Eddy, a woman who had a lot to say about our relationship to the Divine and about finding spiritual – and physical – freedom. In this case she used the word Truth as a synonym for the “Sustaining Infinite,” the Divine, or God, which then meant for me it was the Divine power that makes free, and that didn’t have to include human will-power or “mind over matter.”
About three weeks into my project, which consisted of coming home right after work and studying and praying, I realized that without even thinking about it I was no longer smoking. The tobacco addiction had simply disappeared. This happened not because of my own personal sense of control, but because of this Divine presence, with which I was beginning to commune. And it didn’t feel miraculous. It just felt normal and natural.
Today, one of the opportunities the marijuana question can create is to open a national dialogue about finding effective ways to overcome addiction. As a former attorney, I have seen a variety of ways work. As a former pack-a-day smoker, who approaches life in a more prayerful manner than I once did, I’ve experienced how finding a connection to the Divine can produce real and lasting freedom.
David Price writes on the connection between health, thinking and spirituality. A former attorney, David is the media and legislative representative for Christian Science in Colorado. David is also a Christian Science practitioner with an expertise in prayer-based healing.