While there has been much said about the benefits of medicinal and recreational marijuana, a close-knit community in Portland understands that the drug can have a dark side for some people.
Members of Marijuana Anonymous, a 12-step program for people who have become addicted to marijuana, said they have seen more people coming into meetings since the drug was legalized, and that new members are younger than they have been in the past.
"More and more folks are coming in with consequences earlier in their life," said a recovering addict who asked to be referred to only as "Dave."
Dave said he started using marijuana when he was just 12 years old, to cope with family troubles and anxiety. He said he felt his life spiraling out of control, and attended his first Marijuana Anonymous meeting in his mid-twenties.
"The first thing that came out of my mouth, and I was sobbing, was, 'I don't know who I am anymore. I'm afraid I've lost my personality,'" said Dave.
Although marijuana is not typically considered a drug of addiction, experts estimate roughly 9 percent of users will develop a dependency or addiction.
"Marijuana is addictive. THC, which is a psychoactive drug, is mimicked in the brain," said Cindy Nordberg, a drug counselor with Serenity Lane.
Another recovering addict, "Tim," said he went from a successful career as a recording engineer to living in his parents' basement at age 25, feeling powerless to shake his marijuana addiction.
"I came to a point where I really could not deny to myself that I was really hopeless and alone and that this wasn't working," said Tim.
Both Tim and Dave eventually found sobriety by attending regular Marijuana Anonymous meetings, and encourage other people who feel like their marijuana use is out of control to stop by a meeting themselves.
There are several Marijuana Anonymous meetings in the Portland area throughout the week.
A complete list can be found by visiting www.madistrict11.org.
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