Forced into AA for using marijuana medically: What do I do?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on January 3rd, 2008 - Last updated: November 10th, 2020
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Mr. Peele,

About 3 months ago I took a hair drug test at work. The test showed positive for marijuana. I had been using marijuana for a few years and only used a small amount each night before bedtime. After having severe migraines for years I turned to it as a last resort (I had used Imitrex, Vicodin, among other painkillers almost daily and Covera HS) and it helped considerably, almost completely eliminating the migraines.

Upon failing the drug test I was subject to being terminated by my employer if I didn’t enter an Employee Assistance Program. I had to go through a four-hours-a-day/four-days-a-week program for 3 weeks at a rehab facility, even though I still believe I was using the marijuana for relief of my migraines and sleeping disorders. I did not abuse the drug or use it recreationally.

After the hospital rehab program I’ve been forced to go to at least 4 AA meetings a week in order to be in compliance with my employer’s EAP. People laughed at my marijuana habit at the first AA group I went to — one guy told me, “In LA we used to smoke marijuana after our AA meetings.” I went to another AA group and admitted I was a marijuana addict. Afterwards, a lady came up to me and said, “You should say you are an alcoholic, you will be accepted better.” I told her I don’t drink alcohol and never developed a taste for it because of my migraines. So now I’m going to my third group, where I just say I’m an addict so I will be accepted by the group.

After about ten meetings I became so depressed I lost all my energy and I just lay around and have gained 20 lbs. I’m single, and recently have found myself thinking that life is no longer worth living. To top it off my migraines have returned. Reading your FAQ “Does AA cause suicides?” helped me more than you could imagine. I’m not an addict and somehow I must take a stand with this issue. I just wanted to thank you for having such a website; you have really helped me deal with my depression and anxiety caused by AA.



Don’t give in to them — then they will have won. You can say you’re an addict if that gets you through the experience — but don’t let them get in your head or cause you to harm yourself. Think how you can improve the world from this crazy situation — spend your hours at AA reflecting on this question. Don’t do anything to hurt yourself.


Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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