Any of you who have spent time with me in the past 10 years know that I’ve been addicted to weed. This might come as a surprise for those who haven’t or just recently got to know me. I was a little bit hesitant to write about this topic because sometimes I’m still afraid of what people might think about me. Nevertheless, here I am writing about my relationship with weed. Today, I’ll be writing about why and how I managed to quit smoking weed, what the biggest hurdles were, and what I believe were the most important factors in succeeding to quit.
In my 9 years of being addicted to weed, the longest time I have been sober was about 10 months. After these 10 months, I relapsed into an even deeper spiral of abusing weed than ever before. I’ll go more in-depth about why I think this happened. I do want to make a little bit of a disclaimer that this is not a guide to quitting weed. All I’m writing about is my journey on getting sober, but if you were looking for a guide, maybe some of my words will help you to do the same.
“The question isn’t how to get cured, but how to live.” ~Joseph Courad
Filling The Void
When I started smoking weed the first and foremost reason for it was simply to have some fun. I was reasonably young at the time I smoked my first joint (16). I remember my first real high being an extraordinarily colorful experience. Even though it was in the middle of the night, the entire sky was filled with tones of pink and purple. My friends and I were laughing all night and just had a huge blast.
Before my 18th birthday, I never smoked weed more than 4 times a year, but after I was allowed into the coffeeshops here in the Netherlands it gradually became a regular habit. Months of soberness turned into weeks and weeks eventually turned into days. Before I knew it, I was smoking weed almost every single day. At the time, It didn’t seem to feel like a problem to me. I was performing well overall and I would attend school and work. I never really felt like mixing my ‘entertainment’ with responsibilities.
But even though something doesn’t feel like a problem, it surely was one. Smoking a joint had simply become the most effortless way to distract me from feelings of inadequacy, insecurities, and other anxieties. It was a surefire way to feel good, despite lacking motivation and determination to do anything impactful with my life.
“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.” ~Jean Kilbourne
Houston, We Have A Problem
It took me years to figure out or feel that spacing out had become a problem. In my younger years, it was easy for me to deny weed was a core component of my issues. When I stopped studying, I would tell myself and others the study wasn’t right for me. Even though, looking back at it now, both studies I tried would have been excellent additions to my knowledge and skill set. Although weed was one of the factors I didn’t succeed at studying, it wasn’t the only one. I was also very depressed and insecure, but feeling high covered it all up perfectly.
When I finally had concluded that I needed to stop, it was much easier said than done. This coping mechanism had become part of my survival strategy, and I just couldn’t see a way to live life without it. One of the greatest torments of being addicted is thinking about quitting the entire time. And for 5 years or so, this was the main thing my subconscious was working on.
Fortunately, I had found some kind of solution. Just leave the country, travel, explore the world, explore myself, and it worked wonders. My travels opened up a part of me that I was never able to see before. It was like heavens doors opened and God had allowed me to take a sneak peek at what was waiting for us at our final stop. From being obsessed with weed I went to being obsessed by the ideas of spirituality. And I was certain the spiritual path I was walking would lead me to freedom, peace, and clarity. It surely did for a while, until I realized I was walking on a cloud and my earthly struggles remained to be solved.
“Sometimes you can only find heaven by slowly backing away from hell.” ~Carrie Fischer
A Cloudy Endeavor
My spiritual journey undoubtedly had steered me to some relief. I felt with absolute certainty that I was more than just my body, I was more than just my mind, I am the spirit that lives in all things and where everyone returns to. With this in mind, it felt like all I had to attend to was my spiritual progress, but again I was mistaken. My spirit had come to peace with this existence, but my mind and body were still in revolt.
As I was becoming aware of this, my cloudy endeavors came to a close. I stopped meditating for spiritual reasons. I started to feel at home in my body again. I went back to working a full-time job and enjoyed it for a very long time. I met my fiancee and fell in love with her at first sight. I stopped smoking weed, but it was hardly a choice. It just seemed like the most natural thing to do at the time. I had been sober for a while since I had stayed in a spiritual center for a couple of months and when I came back home, I simply didn’t enjoy smoking weed anymore.
As great as that year had been, as deep did I fall when my insecurities and anxieties came knocking at the door. It was time to deal with my biggest struggle of all, who I wanted to become. I tried the hardest to become the person that my stoned self was dreaming about for all those years, but I failed. The goals that I had set for myself were so far out of reach that everything I did felt like defeat. I had run into a wall so thick and high that it left me exhausted and discouraged. Perhaps if I simply tried to walk around it I would see that this wall was built by my insecurities. And if I kept removing brick by brick eventually the whole wall would come crashing down.
“Recovery begins from the darkest moment.” ~John Major
At the start of 2021, earlier this year, I smashed into another wall and this time it wasn’t because I was aiming for the skies, but I had exhausted my mind and body to a point where they could no longer function. I was working very hard at a company where I didn’t see myself having a future. The work drained my energy and to top it all of I smoked myself to sleep with bigger amounts of weed than I had ever smoked before. At some point, my body altogether quit functioning. My back hurt as it had never hurt before. I couldn’t get out of bed and if I did, all I could do was sit and play video games. The doctor referred me to someone to talk to and advised me to call in sick for a while. After a couple of talking sessions, I realized I didn’t want to go back to work at all anymore. I had to bring the wall of insecurities down and heal my body.
The first steps were taken and I took a very long rest. I kept smoking weed at the time because I wasn’t ready to put any pressure on the whole matter. I stayed in touch with the counselor until she went on maternity leave. After that I felt like it was time for the next step, to take advice from an addiction counselor. Both of these women have altered my outlook on why and how I used weed. Questions like; ‘What needs does weed fulfill in your life?’ and ‘What are times you want it the most?’, helped me understand my addiction a lot better than I ever did before.
I was also told that I could probably keep smoking weed my entire life, and nevertheless remain productive, but it wouldn’t help me to love myself. Unlike before, I wrote everything down in a diary, so I wouldn’t forget any of these lessons. This time the way I became sober was a much more conscious effort. I discovered I smoked weed for several reasons. These reasons were the ability to focus, to be able to think out-of-the-box, to think clearly and to be able to enjoy something when doing it.
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ~J.K. Rowling
How I Quit Weed
After understanding myself on a deeper level, all I had to do was quit, but as any addict knows, it’s never a good time. There’s always some reason to keep going. I figured the best time would be when I’m very distracted and not at home. Unfortunately, in corona times, those opportunities are hard to come by. But at the end of May, I had a weekend planned with my friends. There wasn’t going to be a better opportunity than this, and I took it.
On the weekend I learned a lot more than I initially imagined I would. Naturally, it was loads of fun and it was easy to not think about weed. But I learned something that I was aware of, but wasn’t quite ready to admit to myself yet. A night of drinking with my buddies led to some deep conversations and at some point, one of them confronted me with something I needed to hear. He felt like I didn’t express any interest in him at all in the past year(s). It was true, and I felt deeply ashamed. I couldn’t keep myself from crying, because I know this has been the case. But not just for him, for a lot of the people I love. As long as I was high, I was not able to be genuinely interested and involved with others anymore.
I genuinely believe that this was one of the biggest turning points. Another one happened about two weeks later when I smoked the first-to-last joint. This time I had the habit of smoking better under control, but I still had urges every other day. Knowing the roles that weed played in my life, I told myself I could smoke a joint, but only at the times I planned it to. In this case, I had been sober for two weeks, so I could have one that night.
As I was getting high, I was listening to an audiobook about addictions and the higher I was getting the more it dawned on me; ‘I am genuinely sick.’. Whatever I decided to do was not a choice at all, it was enforced. As I called my fiancee the tears came rolling out again. And with the acceptance of being sick, I finally was ready to heal.
Slowly I started replacing the habit of smoking weed with new habits. I started meditation again to fulfill the need for clear thoughts and out-of-the-box thinking. I started running and climbing to get a sense of flow. And as time passed, every day became more enjoyable.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new.” ~Socrates
Today, I haven’t smoked a joint in more than one and a half months. I also haven’t had the urge to do so anymore. As it is still quite fresh it’s hard to say if I ever will smoke a joint again. Especially after having gained the wisdom on motivation that I have written about in my latest post. It’s simply better to forget about it and knowing that there are other ways to fill the voids that weed was trying to fill. And as I’m getting more acquainted with these new habits I start loving them more and more.
In summary, the biggest bits of help were getting someone to talk to, having people I cared about to talk to, writing it all down, acknowledging I was sick, and replacing old habits with new ones.
Being sober has left me with tons of energy to work on myself and has replaced shame with confidence. And I wish for any of you that struggle with this the same. Or if you feel like you’re not ready to heal yet, try to understand what role your addiction plays in your life. It’s a great place to start.
Finally, I want to express my apologies to all of you, especially those who I neglected in the past. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. And to those that have stuck around and aided me through these times, I thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you.
With all the love and light,