Quitting weed was hard. Probably because I enjoyed it so much.
Also, I’m not a drinker, not a party animal, and I have very few friends, so I tend to isolate myself from other people.
In such a context, weed is the perfect companion.
But one day, I blinked and realized I had been smoking pretty much daily for 10 years. I also realized that, if I wanted to be aligned with my goals of self-care and healing, then I would inevitably have to face my addictions.
I had tried to quit a few times, but I was dating-living with a smoker. I’d stop, then he would light a joint… and I was back to square one. I mean, why fight the current? Sometimes, it’s just easier to go with the flow. Right?
Also, I didn’t particularly like my life. I had PTSD, financial struggles, no family, been in an abusive relationship that had left me in shambles… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Things were hard, to say the least. And weed was comforting. Familiar.
It was always there for me.
There’s just something about lighting that first joint after a long day at work, and knowing your worries will soon fade into the background.
Sure, it’s temporary. And they don’t really “fade” into the background. But I digress.
So yeah. 10 years like that.
I never really saw a reason for quitting. I thought weed made my life somehow better; more tolerable.
So the decision to quit was a slow one. It took me about 6 years, from the first time I started wondering about quitting, to the moment I finally decided to do it.
Why I decided to quit smoking weed?
It had been a recurring thought for years
Do you know how you sometimes wake up one day and realize you’ve had a thought (such as leaving your boyfriend, quitting your job, getting a tattoo, running a marathon, going back to university, etc.) for years, but never gave it any real attention?
You literally wake up one day and realize you’ve been thinking about that specific thing probably every day for the past 3, 10, 20 years?
That’s what happened with weed.
It’s not that I suddenly wanted to quit. Not at first anyway. I actually still wasn’t ready to quit yet. But I realized that quitting had been a recurring, nagging thought.
Six years is a long time.
Also, during that time, I was slowly understanding that all the recurring thoughts I had but never acknowledged were slowly driving me crazy, or making me very, very unhappy.
I had reached that conclusion as I was beginning to address all those things in my life that I had been thinking about, but storing in a drawer “for later” in the back of my head. And weed was definitely one of them.
Smoking weed was the one habit that was hurting me the most
During that time, I was trying to create drastic change in my behavior. There were so many fucked up things about me. I just couldn’t go on living like this. And so, I decided to make self-healing and self-care my new priorities.
But where do you start when you have so much to change about yourself?
I tried to go around weed, and address other issues first: relationships, finances, work, health, etc.
Here’s the thing, everything was hard and slow to change, and after a while, I could no longer deny that weed was hurting my efforts in the other areas.
Not necessarily because I was high. But because constantly smoking takes energy, focus, money, time, and lots of mental space. A lot.
So I was taking one step forward… and then ten steps backward. All the time. It was exhausting! This went on for years.
And I never felt like doing anything except smoke.
Every activity, person, occasion, was just something else standing in the way of my smoking.
That is until I heard this from Tony Robbins (?). I’m not sure. But basically, he said, when you are trying to change, you don’t have to change everything about yourself. But rather, ask yourself what is the one habit that you have right now that is hurting you the most.
Well, no matter how much I tried to deny it, the answer was always: weed. Even after a few months of thinking about it, trying to come up with all sorts of things to fix about myself, the number one habit I had that was hurting me the most was this.
Of course, my finances and my relationship were two other major issues in my life, but once these two were “solved”, I could no longer avoid the weed part.
I never felt like doing anything
Ever. Seriously! Every event, phone call, job, social activity, etc. were just obstacles standing in the way of my smoking.
At first, I just thought it was because that was my personality. But then I started to wonder if it didn’t have to do with weed.
And if it did, wasn’t it a pretty sad way to go on about life?
Every day was the same
As I already mentioned, I woke up one day, and 10 years had passed. I didn’t have clear memories of the past. Everything was kind of blurry.
Even worse: every day of the week, of the month, or the year looked pretty much the same: I’d wake up, go to university or work, go home, smoke, go to bed. Repeat.
Sometimes, I would think that something had happened 3 months ago, only to realize 4 years had passed.
Time seemed to fly me by, and I was not really living life.
I started feeling old, and regrets crept in
Then I blinked again, and I was 30 and could barely remember my twenties… That’s not a great feeling. I had to deal with a lot of guilt, regret. It was hard.
This phase actually lasted a few years.
And do you know how I dealt with it?
I smoked more.
I was no longer living
The thing with weed, alcohol, video games, streaming, social media… and I’m guessing, all addictions, in general, is that they are escapes.
You think you are doing something.
But really, you are not. You are just trying to get away from the present; from reality. Your reality.
You are trying to avoid your own thoughts, your own mind. You are trying to avoid life because it is scary and painful.
I think that what most people do in Western societies (or in North America anyway) is about escaping life. People are just not present! Most of the time. They are always checking their phones or doing a million other stuff to not be fully there.
And I had been doing the same thing. I had been numbing myself to make my life more bearable. To shut up that voice in my head that was perpetually telling me stuff. I was killing my mind so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it. That thought made me feel sorry for my mind.
And the worst part is, I had not succeeded because my twenties had passed me by, but that voice in my head I was trying to muffle, that discomfort, they were still there.
So I began to wonder if I was going to do the same with my thirties? And forties?
And I had a thought: it may sound extreme, but if your goal is to escape your whole life, why not just kill yourself?
Yep. Happy, happy thoughts I was having.
But I think the real reason why I finally decided to quit smoking weed is fear.
Fear can be a great motivator when you can’t seem to get yourself to do shit. At first anyway, but not in the long run.
If you know something is not good for you but can’t seem to get yourself to act, I highly recommend you actively start creating fear around it.
In my case, there were different “fears” involved.
First, there was an accumulation of fears: fear of cancer, brain damage (seriously, sometimes it felt like my brain was no longer functioning properly), cardio-vascular damage (when I smoked my heart rate was i-n-s-a-n-e! And also, rheumatoid arthritis is linked to increased cardiovascular disease), etc.
And then there was a “newer” fear. One that had emerged more recently. I began to fear that the rest of my life would look like this. And when I could no longer work because of crippling arthritis, all I would be left with is an addiction. And perhaps not even enough money to afford it.
I got scared.
How quitting weed has improved my life, my physical health and mental health?
To be honest, the benefits of quitting weed have been so significant, and there were so many of them that I’ll just go ahead and list them.
But let me just point out that I don’t attribute all of them solely to quitting weed.
For example, quitting weed has allowed me to get to the next level in terms of physical activity. And of course, working out more has certainly been an important contributor to much of the other improvements I’ve noticed. But none of it would have been possible had I not quit weed.
I know because I’ve tried doing it for years without quitting. And failed.
So here are all the ways my life has improved since quitting weed:
- I have less anxiety (way, way, WAY less);
- No longer feel paranoid;
- I no longer fear heights, big spaces (agoraphobia), and small places (claustrophobia);
- No longer avoid phone calls;
- I answer my door when people knock;
- No longer fear unplanned social encounters (seriously, who wants to live like this?);
- I have a lot more energy and stamina;
- I can make plans with other people (without thinking only about going home as fast as possible to smoke);
- I have friends again;
- No longer have palpitations;
- I eat better;
- I sleep better;
- I need less sleep;
- I am less dehydrated (you know: dry mouth, dry scalp, dry eyes….);
- I remember my dreams;
- I no longer beat my self up for days (hum… weeks?) dissecting every single word that came out of my mouth during the last social encounter;
- Light doesn’t bother me as much and my eyes are less sensitive;
- I stink a lot less; Yes, my sweat is less smelly when I don’t smoke.
- I no longer wake up sluggish (although, to be honest, this has a lot to do with a change of diet too);
- I can focus on tasks for a very long time (I could not focus on anything for longer than 2 minutes, no joke);
- I can now find enjoyment and pleasure in things and activities;
- I became creative;
- I found new hobbies;
- I have goals again;
- I learned a new language with all the free time I now have;
- I spend a lot (a lot) of time outside and it’s very soothing, again, because I have so much more free time now;
- I started writing;
- I started a business (this is definitely due to me not smoking because, during relapses, all my projects go out the window);
- I stopped caring so much about what other people think (because I am way less paranoid)
- I can run 10 km (I could not even walk 4km two years ago);
- I no longer worry about my house or my clothes smelling like weed;
- I take much better care of myself;
- I manage to maintain a routine. Of course, I stumble sometimes (often!), but there is progress. Seriously, I cannot stay consistent when I smoke.
- I actually care about stuff, but not in an erratic way like I used to.
- I’m saving a ton of money (because you not only save the money you spent on weed, but also on supplies, tobacco, and all the junk food I was eating because, you know… munchies. After the 3d month weed-free I was shocked when I looked at my bank account!)
- By learning to manage myself and my cravings, I’ve gained invaluable insights into how my brain works, but I’ve also acquired some incredible self-management skills that serve me now in different areas of my life;
- All the other areas of my life started improving. All the efforts I had been doing for the past years without seeing progress… well the progress suddenly skyrocketed because I was able to be way more consistent.
Quick sidenote on relapses
Now, if you’ve tried to quit weed or any other addiction for that matter, and have failed many times, I think it’s normal. I certainly have many times.
I tried and failed for about 9 months before finally succeeding “for good”… well, for now anyway.
Yes, I say “for now” because I don’t fool myself: relapses are a reality. I simply try not to beat myself up too much over it, or I would still be smoking.
This is not to say that I let myself off the hook. I try really hard to stay on track, and I did. But if a slip-up or a relapse happens, I try to learn from it as soon as possible, quickly adjust, and try again.
If I dwelled on it, it would be worst.
Related post: Don’t beat yourself up after a relapse. Do this instead.
The thing is, I think it may have been harder for me to quit weed because I smoked it mixed with tobacco, and I’ve found quitting smoking cigarettes to be 1 000 times harder than weed itself.
And you know what? Even now that things are ‘good’… I still think about smoking sometimes. I do miss it, even now (but honestly, I mostly miss tobacco).
That’s precisely why I think relapses are so great. They are the best teachers you can ask for if you actively try to find the hidden lesson in each of them.
Every slip-up, every relapse has thought me something about myself, PLUS I now know that no matter how much I miss weed, going back to it is never a good idea. And I know this because I went back to it over and over again, and hit a wall, every time.
Overall, I would say the biggest change for me since quitting weed has been the ability to regain a sort of control over my life. I no longer smoke to avoid life; I make a life, aka I take concrete actions towards building a life I actually want.
Of course, it’s only the beginning and everything could go south… who knows? But honestly, I am happier now without it.
What addiction is holding you back? How do you deal with relapses?
Do not hesitate to leave me a comment or message me. I would love to hear from other people going through the same things.