When Joe hit rock bottom, he knew it. At age sixty, he’d been drinking since he was sixteen and his liver was a mess. Every time he tried to quit in the past, he failed. “But this time was different,” he told me with a steady gaze. “This time I was about to lose my wife, my career and everything I’d worked for.” Realizing he faced the final straw, he knew he couldn’t fail again. He quit “cold turkey” but the shakes, sweats and anxiety that followed became overwhelming and he was tempted to have a drink. Then a friend gave him a joint and Joe reluctantly took a few hits. Within minutes, his anxiety diminished, the “edge” softened and his body appeared to regulate itself as the shakes and sweating gradually stopped.
Joe hasn’t had a drop to drink in nearly two years. But every night after work, he comes home and takes two or three hits off a joint to “tamp down the day.” Without it, Joe is convinced he’d be back drinking. “When I look in the mirror now, I see a totally different person,” Joe told me. “I’m more engaged in life, more social and just healthier overall. And I really do think that the pot has a lot to do with it.”