I still feel a little bit weird when I talk about my addiction to marijuana because a lot of people, even some who are supposed to be in the know about substance abuse, still don’t think of marijuana as an addictive substance. For most of the time that I smoked marijuana, I didn’t think of it as addictive either, despite the fact that I smoked it almost every day for fifteen years. I was confident that I could just put it down whenever I wanted if and when I thought it necessary to do so.
My first experience with weed, at the age of 19, was an unpleasant one. I didn’t like it at all. It made the world around me seem way too surreal. It was just plain scary and I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. About a year after this first experience, a friend of mine convinced me to try it again and this time it was pure nirvana. Thus began my long love affair with marijuana.
It still took a couple of years for my daily weed habit to take root. Whenever I wanted to get high, I would go hang out with friends who I knew would have it. Maybe I was a bit of a moocher but I was fairly conscientious of compensating them in some way like buying the pizza or bringing over a case of beer. Eventually, I had one of them to introduce me to a dealer so I could just get it whenever I wanted. Now that I had my own stash, I started smoking every day without giving it a second thought.
A Harmless Indulgence Turns Into Something Insidious
I thought of it as a harmless indulgence, as do most weed smokers. For those who smoke only occasionally, I would venture to say it is harmless. Besides, I reasoned, there are drugs way more harmful than marijuana, many of which I tried but never craved the way I did the blissful ganja. I became an all out 420 evangelist and could enumerate 100 reasons why everybody in the world should smoke pot.
It didn’t interfere with my career, so I thought. Luckily, I never got arrested for possession even though there were numerous times I smoked brazenly in public – beaches, concerts, outside the back door of my workplace, etc. I believed it helped me in more ways than it hurt me. I thought it de-stressed me, kept me on an even keel, gave me motivation to do things when I felt like doing nothing, made me happy when I was sad, opened up my thoughts when my mind felt dull, and generally gave a warm, fuzzy glow to life.
However, as life went on, the more I felt depressed. I began to get this sinking feeling that life was passing me by, that I wasn’t living up to my full potential, that I had missed out on opportunities. I watched my non-weed smoking friends and associates bypassing me in their careers and other aspects of life. What did I do about it? I stayed home and smoked pot. The only time I didn’t feel depressed was when I smoked until finally I felt depressed even when I smoked.
So I came to the realization that it was time to quit weed. It finally dawned on me that weed was a compounding factor, rather than a cure, of my depression. I also began to acknowledge to myself that weed was the very thing that had been holding me back from a more fulfilling life all these years. So, I decided to quit.
The Habit is a Vicious Cycle
I went through the next couple of years of quitting and smoking and quitting and smoking. I would flush my stash, trash my smoking utensils and repeat the process over and over. About 10 days was the most I could go without weed. I would actually feel quite good in the middle of these non-smoking periods but then the unyielding craving for weed would set back in and I would go get some more, smoke it, feel relieved, and then feel like crap again. It was a vicious cycle that was emotionally hard to grapple with because, after all, “weed is not addictive”, right?
I kept educating myself on weed dependence. I came across resources that validated that marijuana can indeed be an addictive substance for some people. I discovered that there are countless people who have been through the same thing I have and many have overcome it. I began using the same strategies that they used to successfully quit weed and it finally worked.
Quitting, Relapsing, Then Quitting Again
I quit my weed habit in early 2014. I went nine months without smoking and felt great but then I had a relapse that lasted 3 months. I didn’t feel very remorseful in my first month of relapse to be quite honest with you but then the depression and apathy toward life set back in and I was more disgusted with myself than ever. I quit again in early 2015 and I have now gone 10 months weed free.
The main benefits of quitting my habit are the more positive light in which I now hold myself and a greater aptitude for dealing with all of life’s little happenstances. I also feel depressed way less often and when I do, I go to the gym, go on a nice long hike in the woods, or write, all of which have a longer lasting therapeutic benefit than weed ever did and without the negative side effects.
I haven’t told my whole story in this post because I didn’t want to ramble on too much. I did try antidepressants a couple times during the process but they just weren’t for me. I also tried psychotherapy which was highly beneficial in some respects but it didn’t quite bring me to the breakthrough moment of changing my marijuana mindset. In case you’re interested, I go into these things in more detail on my blog about kicking the weed habit.
I’ll be the first to admit that weed isn’t the worst substance to be addicted to but it can produce negative results in one’s life nonetheless. Reading the various stories here on Dropping Keys has been inspiring. I salute those of you who have transformed your lives from darker days than I have experienced. You’re proof that the human spirit is great within us and that the pain of change reaps great rewards.