- Overview :
- Is weed addiction real? How do I know I am addicted?
- Addictions have three stages
- How do you know you are addicted?
- Facts and new research about weed you should know :
- Reduces insulin in your body
- Effect on the cardiovascular system :
- Memory problems :
- Lower Dopamine Release :
- Lung damage and Persistent Coughs :
- Effects on Pregnant Women and the Unborn Child :
- Possibility of Testicular Cancer
- Hindered Sexual Functions :
- Other health effects :
- Chapter 2 : My experience quitting weed:
- Important tips :
- Rewrite habits in the brain :
- Use fear to your advantage :
- Fear of life without weed might work against you :
- How to deal with this fear?
- 1. Acknowledge it. Face it
- 2. Remember your reasons.
- Know that these cravings don’t last :
- The mindset behind quitting weed: How to stop smoking weed:
- 1)Find your motivation/ reason :
- These were my reasons :
- 1.1) Loss of identity:
- 1.2) Extreme loss of productivity :
- 1.3) Health reasons :
- 1.4) Holding on to the traumas of my past
- 1.5) Declined quality of friends and relationships:
- 2) Do a big sesh before quitting :
- 3) Say ‘No’ when your gang invites
- Schedule plans for the FIRST THREE DAYS :
- Weed withdrawal symptoms and how to deal with them :
- Changes in Body :
- Pain in chest and lungs :
- Weirdness in your stomach :
- Dreams about smoking :
- Change in Appetite:
- Mental Chaos :
- Coming Up with Good excuses :
- Terrible mood swings:
- Two essential tools to deal with such cravings :
- 1) IGNORING THE CRAVINGS :
- 2) LISTEN TO THE CRAVINGS :
- BOREDOM :
- What can we do to deal with boredom from weed withdrawal?
- LONELINESS :
- Ways to deal with loneliness from weed withdrawal:
- FINDING YOURSELF AGAIN :
- CONCLUSION :
Finally, after years of denying the negative impacts of weed on our lives, researchers and addicts like you and I are starting to come out with the dark side of consuming weed.
It can be frustrating to know that we all started this habit when someone said, “Marijuana isn’t addictive or harmful.”
We knew then it was too good to be accurate, but we went with that because we wanted to experience what a high would feel like.
And now here we are, not being able to get off this habit that is slowly consuming our lives.
By the end of this article, you will understand the mindset behind “quitting weed” and that it’s possible!
Is weed addiction real? How do I know I am addicted?
In this age where people lose themselves over behavioural addictions, it doesn’t make sense to ask if weed is addictive?
OF COURSE, WEED IS ADDICTIVE!
There’s an official term called “the marijuana use disorder.”
Addiction is when we chronically relapse repeatedly, no matter how hard we try to quit.
Addictions have three stages
They say that at least 30% of people using marijuana will have marijuana use disorder, but you strongly believe the number is much greater.
With the increased potency of the marijuana strains, the number of emergency patients in hospitals testing positive for marijuana has also increased!
How do you know you are addicted?
We are addicted when we know that we shouldn’t smoke, but we can’t help it. Let’s say you have COVID, and it’s better not to smoke for the next week or so. Yet you just cannot help it. You need it to survive every day without emotional distress.
This is an addiction.
Most of us should be able to relate to this!
Facts and new research about weed you should know :
Things you read here might come as a shock, but remember, experts prove these in their research!
Also, recently with the legalization, the stains of marijuana have increased with increased potency and varying levels of cannabinoids.
Reduces insulin in your body
Most people aren’t aware of the effects of low insulin levels in our body which is the case for people who are heavy users of marijuana.
- Loss of muscles: Without Insulin, Amino acids don’t enter the cells, which reduces muscle mass.
- Hyperglycemia: Without insulin, glucose isn’t absorbed by our body. This leaves high glucose levels in our bloodstream, called hyperglycemia, and causes other complications.
- Nerve damage
- Kidney damage
- Eye problems
- Heart problems
- Blood vessel problems
- Loss of fat and ketone buildup:
- When cells cannot consume glucose, they start using fat for energy, releasing many ketones. Ketone usually gets excreted in the urine, but sometimes it can’t keep up, and there’ll be excess ketone buildup in our bodies. This results in a problem called diabetic ketoacidosis.
Effect on the cardiovascular system :
- Decreased cerebral Blood Flow: This leads to stroke!
- Hyperadrenergic state: leads to Arrhythmia
- This is a condition where the heart beats irregularly
- This can cause chest pains, lightheadedness, fatigue, and shortness of breath
- Arterial vasospasms: This can lead to Ischemia.
- This is the irregular beating of our heart and the inability of our hearts muscles to pump blood
- Repeated episodes of this and prolonged use can cause heart attacks and heart failures
- Oxygen supply-demand mismatch can also lead to Ischemia
- Para coagulation and platelet activation: Thrombosis
- This condition occurs when there’s a clot in your veins. It usually occurs in our legs!
- Swelling, pain, discolouration, warmth in the affected leg!
- This block could cause serious complications when it breaks and gets stuck in the lungs blocking blood flow.
- (The older you are, the more chances of getting this problem!)
You must be thinking, well, these seem too serious, and I haven’t heard any of my stoner friends face such issues, so it’s “cool”.
Remember this; these vein blocks can happen without any reason at all. Heavy usage of weed and tobacco increases the chances of you getting this.
Trust me, your heart and lungs are WAY WORSE than you think!
Every joint you light up will get you closer to a failed lung, heart and nervous system! Remember that!
- Oxidative stress: Inflammation that can lead to Atherosclerosis
- This is the hardening and narrowing of our arteries which can cause many cardiovascular diseases
Memory problems :
Memories issues in long-term marijuana users are caused by how marijuana affects the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for making new memories and learning new things.
How would you feel if I said that marijuana would affect your ability to learn new things?
I bet many of us knew this, yet we kept smoking because we could not stop. Right?
Teenagers with over three years of marijuana addiction have been reported to have an abnormally shaped hippocampus, and 18% of such teens performed significantly lower than others while taking a memory test.
- Reduces memory power
- Reduces thinking capabilities
Lower Dopamine Release :
In another study, we found low dopamine release in patients with years of marijuana addiction.
The brain parts responsible for control, impulsiveness, and attention are affected, especially among smokers who started smoking back in their teenage years.
Lung damage and Persistent Coughs :
With more and more legalization, we are getting more evidence from researchers stating that marijuana smoking has very similar effects on the lungs to tobacco smoking.
Smoke, in general, has a lot of harmful chemicals which can harm our lungs when we smoke long term.
Marijuana smoke has Ammonia and Hydrogen Cyanide, which can harm the bronchial passages and the lungs.
Effects on Pregnant Women and the Unborn Child :
If you are pregnant, ensure that you are nowhere near marijuana because it will have long-lasting effects on your child’s memory.
Stay away from weed during pregnancy and during breastfeeding since any foreign substance like this can affect the child.
Possibility of Testicular Cancer
An association has been found between frequent marijuana use and testicular germ cell tumours development.
While the doctors say that testicular cancer is sporadic and there’s not enough evidence to state that marijuana causes cancer, many experts warn that marijuana could cause more problems than we realize right now.
Hindered Sexual Functions :
When we think about marijuana or weed, we all know how it helps improve our sexual experiences. Right?
Weed makes sex feel better.
But scientifically, studies have shown that actually marijuana reduces or inhibits the receptors in erectile tissue.
This means weed does more to limit sexual function than support and help it.
Other health effects :
- Bad gum health
- Change in personality
- Psychotic Illness
- IQ decline
- Financial difficulties
Chapter 2 : My experience quitting weed:
Honestly, quitting weed was a long process filled with relapses and lessons to learn from these relapses. Finally, I get the strength and the mindset to let it all go and survive through the first few days, and I relapse because of an aspect in my life that triggers me to do it.
It’s tough to quit if your smoking friends call you up for a party or just push a score. So identifying the triggers should be the first step.
Remember, at these times, you will already be going through withdrawal symptoms and will be craving a fix. Your internal strength breaks when something vital triggers you.
Even after months of quitting, you could relapse because of the negative emotions in your life.
I buried myself in work and the gym to get away from these cravings, and it worked well. I was off it for months. I was genuinely happy, and my body restored itself. I had not had many triggers, and I was sleeping and eating well without any chemical imbalances in my brain. Then a strong trigger from my past brought me a lot of thoughts about smoking, but I didn’t give up yet.
But once you start wondering and craving, you could break, and that’s what happened to me.
Relapses last for a while, too, because it’s not easy to just get a taste of it and stop immediately.
So here are my triggers :
- Friends who smoke up with you: Try to stay away from them for the first few months.
- Dealers: Block all your dealers because if someone calls you up and asks if you need it, you might break
- Places and spots: If you are used to smoking up in a place often, try not to go to those places. If it’s your room, then try to do some redecoration to your room to make sure you don’t get the same vibe! Try your best to avoid hanging out in places where you smoke up often!
Important tips :
Rewrite habits in the brain :
What do you like to do when you are high?
Do you hang out with friends? Go for a drive? Play something? Party? Make out and have sex?
Whatever it is that you enjoy doing while you are high, start doing it when you are sober.
You need to learn to love those habits without weed. This way, you won’t be triggered by the need to make that habit which would, in turn, trigger your weed addiction.
Use fear to your advantage :
Even after that relapse, I was not back to where I was because my brain is more balanced now. So yes, I got a score and smoked it all off, but still, I could sleep and work normally and quitting just had a psychological barrier, and I didn’t have insomnia!
Now I feared having insomnia and other difficulties I faced back when I was addicted and used those fears to get off it.
Fear of life without weed might work against you :
When you are on your 3rd to 6th day of break from weed, this fear of change will be hard on you.
Your mind is worried that you will succeed in quitting, and it is afraid of a life without weed.
When this happens, you know you are on the verge of quitting and will succeed if you get through this phase.
This is when we often make excuses about extending smoking for a few days, like a farewell thing!
Don’t do it!
How to deal with this fear?
1. Acknowledge it. Face it
It’s okay to be afraid. However, thinking about life without weed, primarily when dependent on this for a long time, could be scary.
But this is why you went through all the trouble all these days! Right?
2. Remember your reasons.
- Health reasons
- Saving money!
- Saving loads of time!
- You’ll think better!
- You’ll be a better person
- You will feel good at the end of it all! Remember that.
Write down your reasons whenever you get cravings or any emotions that force you to go back to a life of smoking weed.
Just get these thoughts out of your system. One can use various methods to deal with the overwhelming thoughts of quitting. Find yours!
Know that these cravings don’t last :
The thing about cravings is that sometimes it would come with a high intensity that we feel like the only option we have is to just smoke weed. Otherwise, you would lose your mind.
It’s important not to act whenever such cravings occur. But, on the other hand, it’s hard to let those thoughts, needs and desires stay in our minds without acting on them.
This is because all cravings have a time limit.
- Try to time your cravings. How long does it usually last?
- Does it last longer when you are idle?
- Does it have more power when you are around people you smoke with and in places you have smoked before?
The best way to control your cravings is to study them. Once you know it, you will have power over it!
The mindset behind quitting weed: How to stop smoking weed:
My three-step plan for quitting weed:
1)Find your motivation/ reason :
Despite the negative impacts of weed on our minds and body, it affects everyone’s life differently.
Some people become unproductive after weed, but some can manage to work well, even with smoking and the buzz. But that person could have trouble sleeping without weed, affecting their relationship with their parents or partner or friends.
These were my reasons :
1.1) Loss of identity:
When we are always high on weed or at least do it once every day, we get dependent on it daily for our happiness and satisfaction.
So when we live a sober life, we feel very uncomfortable because we have lost track of what makes us happy.
- We could have enjoyed visiting our cousin’s house, but it doesn’t excite us anymore.
- We would have loved watching the stars at night, but it’s not fun anymore.
- We would have enjoyed working out and going to the gym, but now it’s just a way to get away from the overwhelming thoughts and cravings.
- We would have had a bucket list of things to do and look forward to, but now those things might not sound as exciting as they used to be
This is because of the chemical imbalance in our brain, which makes us not love things the same way we used to before
Over a long period of weed use, it might change a person’s dreams and goals, which determines how their entire future is going to be.
Our pain determines our desires, and our desires point the direction in life and hence define the person we are: our identity.
1.2) Extreme loss of productivity :
Even if you can work decently and manage your day to day tasks at home and office, you would still not be the best version of yourself.
In this world filled with opportunities, it’s not enough to be just “good”. If you are a dreamer like me desiring to do many things, weed can be a life blocker for you.
Despite being unproductive, we wouldn’t feel bad/guilty about it since we are satisfied with the present because of the presence of weed!
Weed can make our experiences better if we do it occasionally while living the dream life. But if we are in our early 20s still figuring life out, weed could derail your progress altogether.
Trust me, the pain of regret is way greater than the pain of withdrawal.
1.3) Health reasons :
If you are someone who goes to the gym and has a positive self-image of yourself and your health, then weed can be bad news for you.
Marijuana can indeed help reduce weight, and heavy weed smokers have a lesser waist size than non-smokers; it will reduce the muscle mass and strength in our body. This gives you a lean appearance which isn’t very desirable!
We all remember when we looked at ourselves in the mirror and felt awful and yet did nothing about it because we couldn’t stop smoking weed, right?
This negative self-image would cause a series of mental health issues, further pushing you away from the best version of yourself.
In addition to this, some of us get stains on our teeth, which are harmful in the long run and don’t look very appealing.
- Fear of cancer
- Fear of heart diseases
- Fear of getting too lean and getting a negative self-image
- Fear of teeth diseases
- Fear of mental health issues
1.4) Holding on to the traumas of my past
Our scars don’t fade or heal with intense marijuana use. We just get good at avoiding it and running away from it. We just rub ash over it and cover it up so we wouldn’t ever see it, and hence they never really heal.
I used to journal a lot and be in touch with my feelings, but ever since I started marijuana, I stopped most of my mental health routines.
All of us dependent on marijuana do not like some aspects of our day to day life. So why would you find it so hard to live an everyday life free of the urge to get high to feel good?
Did you know? In research done by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, it is concluded that the symptoms of PTSD were higher and more intense in people who abuse marijuana.
You are 59% more likely to get dependent on marijuana if you have experienced some traumatic event in the recent past!
It is noted that even though marijuana can help relax our mind and calm our anxiety and stress in the short term, they affect people with traumatic past severely as the symptoms of PTSD and marijuana cravings would be too hard to handle.
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1.5) Declined quality of friends and relationships:
This one hurts because the moment we are dependent on weed for happiness, we always choose weed over other good things in our life.
We hang out more with our smoking friends. We go out on trips with our smoking friends, and we don’t have much time for the other guys who used to matter a lot.
Over time, a detachment forms, and you lose some good people in your life!
And what we don’t realize is that our smoking friends would detach from us the moment we quit marijuana. So this means that we spent all these years with guys who only wanted our company for the sake of smoking, and they aren’t our actual friends who would have our backs when we are down.
This is not always the case, but people addicted to a substance will have poor relationships with the people in their lives.
2) Do a big sesh before quitting :
Personally, the guilt of having wasted so much money would keep me away for a few days, which is reasonable considering how hard the first few days of quitting would be.
After years of smoking, the first time I quit weed was after a massive sesh with friends, which satisfied me and made me feel guilty about my spending habits, lifestyle, and health, which helped me deal with my cravings!
If you don’t mind spending big, then this last party will help set your mind up for what’s about to come. Also, we don’t immediately crave weed after we smoke intensely because our throat and lungs would seek a break which we should use to our advantage.
Note: This might increase withdrawal symptoms in the first three days if the desired guilt mindset is not present.
But please don’t fall into the trap of: “So I’ll quit slowly. Which means I’ll buy more pot and try to reduce my intake.”
Excuses add up, and our mindset would have changed entirely by the end of this score!
3) Say ‘No’ when your gang invites
After the big sesh the following morning, there might be enough weed left for the guys to invite you to finish it off before you go on a break.
Say No. Saying No reinforces our decision to quit and will help with the psychological cravings.
Your mind: “God, this day is boring. I don’t feel so good. Let’s smoke weed.”
*Good High memories flashes*
Your wise mind: “I could have done it when they asked. I didn’t then, and I wouldn’t now. I need this break.”
Often it’s hard to use logic and out-talk your cravings. Right? If we could do that, you wouldn’t have an addiction right now.
But having acted on denying the smoking sesh before builds a wall of emotions in our brain that helps deal with cravings. Does it make sense?
These are the exact three steps I used to quit smoking weed, and the last step is the most important.
“If you can’t say no to weed now, you can’t say no in the future. So act on it today. Tomorrow never comes.”
Schedule plans for the FIRST THREE DAYS :
- Enroll on something that will drain your time
- Stay away from weed friends for a month, at least
- After the first week: Use the fear to your advantage
Weed withdrawal symptoms and how to deal with them :
Changes in Body :
Pain in chest and lungs :
The pain we experience is very mild and isn’t something to be scared of. Some say that this tightness we experience in our chest is our body getting ready to remove the toxins in our body!
This pain in the chest can come periodically for the first three weeks for heavy smokers. After that, it lasts for a few minutes, and the intensity of the pain differs.
If you have more than 10 years of weed smoking, then this might be something you should look out for. Else this is barely a symptom to be worried about.
Weirdness in your stomach :
I have felt this every time I was on a detox or a weed break. This might not be the case for everyone, but when we suddenly stop smoking, our body needs to adapt to the new normal.
Your body is used to expecting smoke and heat in your lungs and body every day, and now that things have changed, you might have some discomforts.
It’s okay if you feel pain in your stomach on your quitting journey. Just ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed by this and keep your mindset up, as this is just a small hurdle on your way to freedom!
Dreams about smoking :
Expect dreams about smoking weed if you had stopped abruptly. Your brain will seek that dopamine rush even after weeks of quitting. The cravings would stop, but when you think about the idea of getting high on weed, your subconscious will desire it.
Personally, these dreams don’t push me to crave weed and relapse since dreams don’t have a stronghold on us for a very long time.
Just laugh it off and move on with your day! Don’t take them too seriously.
Change in Appetite:
We must have had huge appetites if we smoked weed regularly! But that might drop immediately after you quit.
This appetite will increase as time progresses because eating is a form of pleasure, too, and we will start relying on everyday things in life got dopamine now that we have stopped smoking.
That makes sense, right?
Mental Chaos :
Coming Up with Good excuses :
During the withdrawal period, your brain works against yourself, and the intelligent part of your brain would come up with beautiful excuses and lies for you to do weed again.
The excuses could be like :
- Next week is my friend’s birthday, so let’s quit after that
- Anyways I cannot do it after so and so age cause of so and so reason, so let me do it now
- I am so stressed, and I need this to cope with it. Just once! (Trust me, it will not stop with one)
- I am going on a trip next week, so I’ll quit after that
- Parents are leaving, and I get to be alone, so let me do it once!
Your brain is craving this and is very uncomfortable and vulnerable, and it is at these times, that any of the excuses will convince us to get the fix because we do not like the way we are feeling at the moment!
Terrible mood swings:
Expect Mood swings until the chemical imbalance in our mind is fixed.
Mood swings won’t be aggressive if you keep yourself busy, but yeah, you might feel bad
- about yourself
- Your body
- The way your career is heading
- how your life would have been different if you had never started smoking weed.
Trust me; our lives would be very different if it weren’t for weed. VERY.
There could be some good things that might have occurred in your life because of weed, but you would be better mentally, physically and emotionally if you had never started smoking it in the first place.
When those cravings hit you, they hit you hard! Especially if your mind is idle!
Cravings are the worst! I am not saying this to scare you but to ensure that you don’t take this lightly! Plan for your cravings.
If you don’t have a plan for your cravings, you would just have to sit through them. Your mind will be shouting at you to do it over and over non-stop for a long time, and all you can do is listen.
To listen to everything your mind throws at you and not act is hard! REALLY HARD.
So either plan for the cravings or get your mental strength up so you won’t give in to them.
From my experience talking about people’s experiences with cravings, different people have different levels at different stages of their journey. The frequency of cravings can also vary based on your mindset and the kinds of triggers you are exposed to.
Two essential tools to deal with such cravings :
1) IGNORING THE CRAVINGS :
Make yourself busy. Unless you are bedridden because of a disease, you can find ways to keep yourself busy!
- Join a language class or a skill related course even if you are lazy
- Start your own thing: Maybe a blog or an Instagram page or something you have meant to do for a while.
- Join the gym / go to the gym more often: Exercising won’t just distract you but will also help release your emotions and energy, which is so much more beneficial to our journey to be free from the addiction
- Play a sport! This could help drain your energy and give you a lot of dopamine to feel good.
- Cook / learn to cook: Cooking might not sound fun, but someday you might have to live on your own and learning to cook your favourite dishes can help you be independent someday!
- Find an internship/ Side Hustle: Getting an internship will make your life busier if you are a student.
- Start gaming! Gaming can keep you off weed, especially if you are lonely. I would recommend a social game so you will interact with people while having fun as well!
- Date! Dating can help with cravings because you essentially replace one pleasureful habit with another. Make sure you don’t walk into a stressful relationship with drama and fighting because that would become another reason to smoke
Do anything to distract yourself from these cravings. Sometimes the cravings could be so intense that it disturbs you even when you keep yourself busy, but your lack of energy will steer you away from the habit of smoking.
2) LISTEN TO THE CRAVINGS :
While trying to run away from the negative feelings around your addiction, you could repress some critical problems in your life, affecting your mental health in the long run.
Repressed emotions can cause outbursts and unhappiness because we aren’t really in touch with our inner feelings.
Distract yourself to deal with intense cravings but make sure you listen to them.
- Why do you have the urge to smoke?
- Why did you start smoking in the first place?
- What drove you back then, and what drives you now?
- How do you feel or what do you feel when you smoke?
- What are your fears about smoking, and why are you trying to quit?
Some fears and insecurities from your past might come up, which could be the root cause behind your smoking habit.
One must acknowledge these problems and find ways to deal with them before they resurface and force you to smoke again!
This was one reason why I relapsed after a long break. Trust me, running away from problems is never a good idea.
This is a very common weed withdrawal symptom. You suddenly find yourself having a lot of time and energy every day.
What do we do with this?
- We overthink
- We focus on our cravings
- We focus on the negative image we have of ourselves.
- We focus on regrets.
These are the fundamental mistakes people make in their weed withdrawal journey, which forces them to relapse.
What can we do to deal with boredom from weed withdrawal?
- Start a side hustle
- Take time to hang out with friends (non-smoking friends)
- Start playing a sport
- Volunteer to help people
- Anything to use this time productively to build yourself and your career.
We will feel lonely because smoking weed is generally a social thing, and the moment you stop, you cut off all ties you had with your smoking friends.
This will make you feel lonely!
Ways to deal with loneliness from weed withdrawal:
- Spend more time with family
- Reconnect with friends from your past who you loved being with
- Get a pet
- Do social activities like going to the gym, going for a job, taking up some courses etc
FINDING YOURSELF AGAIN :
This is the most critical weed withdrawal symptom/effect.
When we are so immersed and dependent on weed, our needs, desires, and dreams pretty much become less significant, and over time it all fades away.
The longer we smoke weed, the farther away we go from our actual dreams because we are already happy and content with our present life. Now, this is only because of weed, and if we take it away, our real life is not as happy.
We lose ourselves, our sense of identity and the things that used to make us happy.
Things to re-learn about ourselves :
- What makes us happy on a day-to-day basis?
- Who makes us happy and has our back genuinely?
- What is missing in our present that we want to work towards for our future?
- Find things that give satisfaction in our life
- What do you wish to change in our world? How can we contribute to that change?
Find yourself again and fall in love with yourself so you wouldn’t have to rely on weed and other self-destructive habits to make yourself happy.
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This article saw how badly weed affects our body and mind. So many people get into this thinking it’s better than tobacco, but we have seen how this is not true! Quitting weed is not very hard, and we just have to stand through the first few days to get over the withdrawal symptoms.