This is How Cannabis Helped Me Beat My Alcoholism

Ask anyone in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to read that headline and I’d bet you a bag of nickels that their reaction would be one of extreme fear coupled with a sense of creeping self-doubt.

I’m proud of who I am. I’m a halfie — half Puerto Rican and half Brooklyn Italian. I get my soul / connection to my Taino ancestors from my Rican side, and I get my addictions and legacy of dysfunction from that side as well.

Yomo Toro Day, South Bronx (Photo by Jen Angeloro)We are proud, no doubt, but we’re also a group of people with a serious yen for addictions, specializing in heroin and alcohol. It’s a legacy, of sorts, and I was born right into it.

From the beginning I knew life was going to be hard. I accepted it and was fortunate to glean a lifetime of knowledge on what it was like to struggle — -and struggle I did — hardcore.

I found AA when I was in my early twenties. I was tired of the game and left New York City for a life in Los Angeles (LA). I tried — I really did. I stayed “sober” but that sobriety also included a nasty eating disorder as well as a penchant for sharp objects that I’d had since an early age.

I did what they said in AA (“they” being a sometimes dangerous group of long-term members) and I went on pharmaceuticals. Two words: No bueno. I couldn’t take the way the drugs made me feel so disassociated and high. As the years crept on I started to notice more and more AA people taking pharmaceuticals (and lots of ’em) while bastardizing marijuana use.

I observed “sober” individuals extolling the virtues of this drug or that drug and I’m not judging, but I got tired of it.

Eventually, the shame of relapsing and not being successful in conquering my own plethora of demons left me at the brink of taking my own life. Then, an old friend from LA gave me some Headband marijuana.

I thought about returning to the herb for quite some time and it fell right into my lap. The opportunity was there to begin to clear out my negative behaviors along with my addiction to alcohol. I was ready. The process began.

Photo by Jen Angeloro

At first, I was nervous due to all of the nonsense that AA had put in my head. I was clear, though, with my own intentions. Why was I doing this? Did I want to get high? Did I want to escape? I was honest with myself — I wanted to get better.

I began consuming small amounts throughout the day. A process that, years later, remains the same. I have not had an issue with expelling my food or using a sharp object for any other purpose than to cut something, and I lost the guilt. I lost the guilt that had been plaguing me for years in AA and it felt empowering. I even adopted a dog who already had a proper Nuyorican name (Paco).

Photo by Imola Baumann

Life got better. My eyes were opening. Sure, I still had to work on getting better and getting through fear (and I’m still doing that) but using cannabis gave me a life that I never had.

I was born into a legacy of generational dysfunction and knew, at a very young age, that life was going to be hard. Using cannabis helped me along the correct path — that path being the one that doesn’t blame other people for my own misfortune. A path that let’s me actually engage in my own life.

I still slay demons, but at least now I can do it with a clear head and without all of the guilt. There’s nothing wrong with using cannabis. It saved my life.