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Weedless DiariesWithdrawal

How and Why I Quit Smoking Weed

By April 30, 2021No Comments

Cody T.’s Weedless Diary

Do you remember the first time you got high on weed? I can, vividly. I had pestered my friend Julian in high school to see if he could hook me up with some weed. The desire was baseless, and predicated in boredom, angsty depression, and seeing everyone else do it. He finally caved but he was confused – why would a “smart, good grade getting guy like me” want to smoke weed so badly?

He got me a bag of weed, but I was still too young to buy rolling papers or cigars. So, I decided to smoke weed out of an apple. After many attempts and disgusting burnt apples, I reached my first high. Everything was hilarious, the world that was once gray had color, food tasted amazing, and music sounded like bliss. It was the happiest I had felt in years. Little did I know that this unearned, artificial happiness would sink its claws in me for over a decade.

I began smoking weed in high school, sank deeper into my addiction with the help of a friend who lived near me (he started smoking in middle school), continued smoking through college, continued smoking into my young adult life/early career all the way up until now. I’m 27 years old and have spent nearly half of my life smoking weed.

Which brings me to my next point – why quit? I would not do something for so long if I did not enjoy it, right? Weed is harmless – alcohol is way worse, right? No one ever died from a weed overdose, right?

I believe that the dangerous thing about weed is the slow death, the proverbial frog in the boiling water. I often browse the internet to identify what users of other drugs were going through. Drugs like heroin, alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and benzodiazepines. And they all said something similar – when you hit your “rock bottom” with harder drugs, it is as clear as day.

I smoked weed for an awfully long time and existed right above the bottom, but I didn’t know it because I was high.

Maybe I would skip out on a social occasion to stay home and get high, which made it easier to skip out on the next one.

Maybe I would procrastinate on something because I decided to get high first, making it easier to procrastinate on one more thing.

Maybe I would spend money on weed instead of, say, a course to further myself, a pair of nice dress shoes, the tailoring of a suit for a better first impression in my earlier career days.

Or maybe I would let an opportunity pass me by, being too high to truly consider the costs.

Enough of these actions over days? Weeks? Months? Years? Now those costs are hard to quantify.

Which brings me back for my reasons for wanting to quit. Sure, mailing it in for a day will not have an immediate effect. Staying inside and playing video games, putting off a task, or not chasing an opportunity feels great and comforting in the moment. But eventually, the water starts to boil.

I have a multitude of reasons for wanting to quit. The glow in my eyes was nonexistent. When I smoked weed, I became unsociable and reclusive, with the duality of being irritable when I was without weed.

It was difficult to reach out and form new connections when the preference was to stay home and smoke. It was difficult to have clarity in my day-to-day life with a marijuana addled brain, and without clarity it is hard to see where I was going. It cost me a lot of money; remember, with weed comes rolling materials, lighters, gas, and junk food. It sapped my energy, charisma, and enthusiasm. But my biggest reason for quitting? I am tired of not living up to my full potential.

Day 1: Throwing away my weed

Today was different. I had quit a million times before, only to fail within days. But today was different.

My routine was simple – make a call to my dealer, stop at the store and pick up rolling papers, go to my dealer to buy marijuana, roll a joint, and smoke it. I was so deep into this that I had my dealer’s number memorized. I also knew the best route to take there and back home to avoid areas where the police were.

But today was different. I had rolled a joint, but instead of smoking it I threw it in the trash, along with the rest of the weed that I had. It was if I had lit a $50 bill on fire. I told a friend of mine about this, to which he said, “What the hell is wrong with you? Give me a call next time and give it to me”.

It had taken me a long time to get to this point, but I had finally reached my day of disgust.

Day 2: Insomnia and physical withdrawal

I have quit weed so many times that I consider myself an expert in withdrawal symptoms. Instead of dreading what was to come, I prepared for the inevitable. I think about it like this – a textbook law of gravity states that what goes up, must come down. If you spent years smoking marijuana like myself, then you would know that I spent a lot of time up, which meant that I had to spend a lot of time down. To cave in and smoke to end my withdrawals, it would simply be postponing the inevitable.

The withdrawal symptom I always experience is insomnia. My brain is probably upset that it missed its regularly scheduled marijuana infusion. Regardless, it is the first mountain to climb. In the past I would invariably relapse because of the insomnia alone – it would be very late, I was desperate to sleep, so I would smoke. Or I would wake up after a night of poor sleep, go through a full day and have no energy to play craving defense by the evening. Sleep deprivation is horrible, even used as a torture method by the CIA. And the brain decides to pull out all the stops. But as stated, I already knew that I had to prepare.

Day 3: Why I quit on a Friday

I always had a hard and fast rule of quitting on a Friday. Why? Well assuming a 9-5 work schedule Monday through Friday, that left a weekend to myself. That’s two whole days to deal with insomnia. Would I rather be cranky, irritable, and unfocused at my job or at home where it doesn’t matter? There’s also the added benefit of choosing to isolate for a weekend. It’s not fun being around others while sleep deprived and irritable, as you I might snap at people for no reason. Imagine thinking about telling your coworker or boss off, and actually doing it? A weed free day on Friday, and two whole sober days by Monday is great momentum to get the week started.

This withdrawal symptom alone leads to everything else, as sleep deprivation is the precursor to a lot of unpleasant things like fatigue, mood changes, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. But that’s only the beginning.

Day 4: How I fight nighttime cravings

It’s challenging moving through the day-to-day grind without my keystone habit, even if I know that it is detrimental to my well-being. Every time I quit, I fear myself after 7PM. Why? Because work is finished, and it’s normally my time to smoke. I also have a weird hatred of the weekends, because what was two days off from the daily grind for most people, was a massive window to indulge in marijuana for me. I started seeing Saturday and Sunday as relapse days.

So what’s to be gained from this? Well, I was able to identify when I smoked, after work and on the weekends, so I could prepare for the cravings that tend to emerge at this time.

I had to get creative and slightly extreme. I have been waking up at 4AM, going to the gym at 5AM, then going to work afterwards. Not only do I have a head start on the day, I have the added benefit of some time to myself before the workday begins. And by 7PM, all I can think about are pillows and blankets.

Day 5: Its (mostly) in my head

Thankfully, I chose a forgiving drug to abuse. For me, the physical withdrawals become less intense towards the end of the first week. Being limited to sleep deprivation, some extra sweating, and slight nausea. I also lose my appetite for a couple of days. This isn’t an issue – I eat a snack bar, drink a smoothie, and down some extra water and go on my way.

The real battles for me are the mental and psychological challenges. When my brain realizes that I’ve cut off its steady supply of THC, it starts to plot against me! And who best knows my weaknesses? My strengths? My temperament, personality, and what makes me tick?

What happens when I am sleep deprived, had a tough day and don’t have the energy to fight off myself saying, “just smoke, you’ll feel better”?

Or when overconfidence leads me into thinking that just one time will be okay, not knowing that one time can lead back into a daily habit?

This is a battle of the mind. And I must be vigilant.

Day 6: Anxiety, depression, and irritability

Once the physical withdrawal begins to fade, anxiety, depression, and irritability often take hold. I’m sure there’s scientific explanations involving the endocannabinoid system, but the long and short of it is I am out of equilibrium. My brain must adjust to the absence of THC, and this takes time.

Say you were the child of a very wealthy man, enjoying a $5,000 allowance every week once you turn 13. Without warning, your father regrets spoiling you rotten and decides to end your allowance. How would you feel? Depressed that you aren’t able to enjoy luxury items and experiences anymore? Anxious about not being able to provide for yourself? OR maybe, angry at your father for cutting your supply?

This is what you are up against.

There are ways to deal with all three of these. I’m a big believer in rigorous exercise. I doubt that any of us were training like Michael Phelps during our weed using days, so why not begin? Exercise will give the benefit of sleeping easier, sweating out garbage, and who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend at a gym class.

Day 7: Angry depressed versus sad depressed

One thing I’ve learned about depression is it’s a lot better to be an angry depressed person than a sad depressed person. The difference is energy. Just the word “anger” reminds me of a furnace. In my anger I pushed forward in my abstinence, instead of caving in a depressed rut.

My relapses tended to happen in a low, depressed state when I just wanted to feel better. But when angry? I’m charged with so much energy that I have to do something instead of smoke. And “something” was better than smoking 100% of the time, as I felt like smoking just one time would break the levee.

The most important thing to note is that this isn’t forever. The depression will subside, the anxiety will come down to a manageable level, and the road rage-esque irritability will eventually fade away.

Day 8: I have a lot of extra time on my hands

Here’s an unintended benefit of quitting, if we may call it that. I found out that there are twenty-four hours in the day. Not groundbreaking research, but hear me out.

From twenty-four hours, let’s take away eight for sleep. From sixteen, take away eight for work. Take away an hour for commute time. Now from seven hours of unobligated time, let’s say you smoke marijuana. There’s obtaining it, which takes time. There’s the setup, which depending on the method, can take a little time to a lot of time. There’s the consumption, which takes time. And worst of all, there’s the comedown, which always takes a lot of time.

Answer me this: how do you feeling when coming down from a high? Energetic and vigorous, or tired and lethargic? Personally, while coming down off of marijuana, I am not going to do anything that requires expending energy as I’m tired and low energy, often until I go to sleep for that day. The energy that I had prior to smoking does not come back until I go to sleep and wake up in the morning. And all of this time could be spent doing something else productive.

To leverage my freshman economics class, the opportunity cost of this is huge. There’s the money spent, but for the purpose of this day, the currency is time. The obtaining, the setup, the consumption, and the comedown took me anywhere from one to eight hours each day.

It was jarring to know how much time I really had now that I was no longer using marijuana – even more jarring to reflect on how much time that I’ve wasted over the years. Regardless, going without smoking has introduced several more hours into my days. With fried cannabinoid pathways, and a sudden addition of several hours into the day, this can give way to boredom. And the boredom can erode your desire to abstain if you’re not mindful of the reasons you decided to quit in the first place.

Day 9: Reflecting on why I quit

Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it, and I was forced to confront the history of why I began to abuse marijuana.

I’m introverted by nature which could have led to it, and marijuana amplified that. An introvert becoming more introverted does not a good life make. I also hated using introversion as an excuse to not put myself out there, so I confronted the underlying reasons.

Maybe I was a little depressed or anxious before I started abusing marijuana, as my parents’ marriage was rocky and I had trouble fitting in growing up. I listened to a podcast where a doctor spoke about reverse engineering addiction and he had a similar upbringing – his parents were going through a divorce and he did not know how to cope with the stressors, so he became addicted to sugar and video games, and later alcohol.

Stressful life events and poor coping skills may lead to addictive behavior, which probably was what happened to me. The first time I smoked I can remember the giggly, happy feeling that I got, but why did it take a drug for me to reach that state? What was missing prior to that first time?

I have a multitude of reasons for wanting to quit now and I am encouraged by my progress. The glow in my eyes is starting to return. Instead of staying home, I’m going out, working out, and forming new relationships. I’m saving money and, more importantly, time. My energy, charisma, and enthusiasm for work and life is growing every day. And I can take comfort in knowing I am taking steps to live up to my full potential.

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