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Can Abstinence Include Marijuana?

Posted on May 3, 2019


Here, we will discuss and unpack the myth of “marijuana maintenance” by answering the question: Can Abstinence Include Marijuana? First, it’s important to understand the framework behind this common and controversial inquiry. Abstinence can be defined as the process of avoiding or not engaging in addictive substances and/or behaviors. Abstaining from the use of illicit substances is a critical part of the recovery process and often the first of many steps towards a healthier, more mentally and physically beneficial existence.

Marijuana maintenance is the idea that one can recover from other substance addictions, as well as addictive behaviors while continuing to use marijuana regularly. Those who are proponents of marijuana maintenance claim that it’s possible to engage in marijuana use and not partake in other mind-altering substances; in addition, they claim stake in the idea that getting high on marijuana is neither problematic or an act of addiction. As marijuana use does, in fact, alter the mind, marijuana maintenance is controversial.

Debunking the Myth of Marijuana Maintenance

Engaging in marijuana use while abstaining from other substances can be likened to replacing one addiction with another. This is troublesome, but the implications are overarchingly negative. A few of the mind-altering and physical effects of marijuana include paranoia, memory impairment, depression, anxiety, and increased appetite. Sensitive behavioral patterns will always be affected by the presence of psychoactive substances in the system. In those who are already susceptible to mental health issues, marijuana use can exacerbate existing symptoms or mask symptoms that need to be revealed for treatment. Marijuana use inarguably hinders the essential work of recovery, rendering individuals under the influence in a state of being “high” which takes them out of the present moment in therapy, 12-Step meetings, treatment, and other areas of life.

Sustainable Recovery

Sustainable and lasting recovery begins with internal work, awareness, and acceptance, in addition to abstinence. Recovery doesn’t include replacing one addiction with another. The path of recovery involves getting to know yourself, harnessing sustainable recovery tools, and learning healthy ways to handle adverse situations in life. Freedom from any and all mind-altering substances which create a “high” is the truest way to engage in the manner of living which ensures lifelong peace and serenity. 



Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today:  561-841-1296.