My #1 question is WTF Is Clean and Sober Stoner?
Usually off to the side or just before an interview. Sometimes I get IM’s asking about it, or someone struggling to “come out of the closet” about being clean. For a lot of people, the whole “clean and sober” thing is personal, and a little sensitive, especially with the whole “anonymity” thing. If this sounds like you, check out The Anonymous People. It’s a pretty good documentary on the subject.
I’m surprised I don’t have much pushback. I generally hear about it from friends and bands who tell me that so-and-so just thinks it’s weird. At any rate, I think it’s time to explain what I mean by Clean and Sober Stoner
Before I was a clean and sober stoner
Actually, I’m writing a book on the background to this, called 30 Years of Heavy Recovery. I’m taking my time with it, and it’s in serious need of a re-write. At any rate, it deals with my early recovery from alcohol, methamphetamine and weed.
But to skip waaaay ahead, let’s just say that by the time I hit 20 years of continuous clean-time, I was one uptight and rigid moogerfooger. I was working at a methadone clinic that was getting toxic and dysfunctional, in a marriage that had all the compassion and romance of a lukewarm sardine, and really struggling with what I saw at 12-Step meetings, and had problems with for years.
The solution presented itself in Spotify. Yes, that Spotify. My wife and I started to bond a bit while looking up albums we had in our collection, putting them into playlists that we could play…whenever. We were also watching Weeds, which had one oh-my-god scene after another. It was…fun!
I also started listening to Cheech and Chong again, since…Spotify. When I was 11, 7 years before I took my first hit, Cheech and Chong were the shit. Even then, in 2011, they still were. I found myself imitating Tommy Chong, holding my hand out and saying, “wow, maaaan” while staring at my palm. I noticed something right away…
I felt better!
Whenever I felt myself getting too worked up about stuff (which was, like, always) I started speaking in “stoner.” I even started doing it with patients that presented with certain cultural affects: dreadlocks, tie-dye shirts and metal T-shirts, piercings, etc. It worked, really fricking well. It took the edge off the counselor-patient relationship and gave us a common language that we just didn’t have before.
I also rediscovered Stoner Rock: bands like Solace, Eternal Elysium and especially: Elder! I was reconnecting with my tribe, for lack of a better word. I couldn’t ignore the fact that the more I connected with who I actually am, the better everything got. And that essential part of me is Stoner Culture! Lava lamps, black lights, psychedelic and heavy music, faded denim and a never ending sense of wonder, of “wow, man.
Clean and sober stoner
Believe it or not, the term “clean and sober” is controversial in some 12-Step groups. If you’re in NA (Narcotics Anonymous) you’re ‘clean’, and in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), you’re sober. Some people take this really seriously, and NA actually has Bulletin #13 addressing the whole thing:
“We are presented with a dilemma; when NA members identify
themselves as addicts and alcoholics, or talk about living clean
and sober, the clarity of the NA message is blurred. To speak in
this manner suggests that there are two diseases, that one drug is
somehow separate from the rest, requiring special recognition.”
As a former member of NA, I strongly disagree with this statement. No one I’ve ever met in over 30 years had a “blurred” understanding because they identified as clean and sober. I’ll avoid the rant on this (for now), but it’s enough to say I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of people shamed by this in meetings.
So, if I’m really honest about it, Clean and Sober Stoner is partially a good-natured jab at the rigidity of traditional recovery. But it’s also a jab at Stoner/Doom culture as well, and the obsession the scene can have with a certain flower bud. It’s not out of anger, it’s just that the two extremes are kinda funny when you step back and look at them.
I delight at the delicious irony that I have it both ways. I LOVE Stoner Culture. The clothes, the lava lamp, incense, candles, talking like everything is mind-blowing, I love it. Stoner Culture is inclusive, exciting, and all over the place. Just because I can’t drink or smoke weed doesn’t mean the rest of the world had to stop.
I also LOVE what I learned in NA about boundaries, self-care, meditation and the importance of community. I’m still pretty hard-core in my daily routine, and I consciously work the steps regularly. I also know, not believe but KNOW, that 12-Step works wonders and has saved countless lives.
I haven’t been to a 12-Step meeting in 9 years, and I have no desire to go back. Things…happened too often, man, and it was becoming a bummer. As a counselor and coach, I support my patients 100% and without reservation if they go the 12-Step route. Just because I’m no longer a member doesn’t mean the world has to stop going.
So, that’s what a Clean and Sober Stoner is to me. Just a dude who doesn’t get high on anything besides Newbie Doomer, good TV and movies, and the best music ever to stomp and rumble the terra. Heavy, psychedelic music had more to do with me getting clean than any step. The community I found, I have to this day, going on 31 years. Best support in the world!!!
It totally trips me out that so many people seem to get it- they sure seem to dig what we’re doing with this site. Most of my social media engagement (I love you, Instagram!) is from people who are Cali Sober or totally abstinent, hesitant to “come out of the sober closet” due to the possible negative reaction from our scene.
My take on it? It’s cool, man. Just don’t be a dick about it…
One last thing: Be sure to check out my Youtube channel. I have a lot of new content, and the more of you that subscribe, the more I can post. Please take a moment and check it out!