This week, we share Bob’s story. He does an excellent job of describing the trap of marijuana addiction and getting stuck bargaining with himself to quit, then not follow through. In the end, he was able to overcome these obstacles and remain clean.
Would you like to share your story? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you start smoking weed?
Started in the early 1980s as part of the high school party scene. Access and money were limited at the time so it was pretty much an every now and then kinda thing. When I went off to college, those factors lessened and by the time I graduated, I was using several times a day. I was still able to obtain decent grades (although they fell short of my potential) and had a peer group that was also using, although not to the same extent so I was able to tell myself that I was living the life of a college student and nothing was amiss.
When did you recognize your marijuana addiction and what problems did it cause?
Somewhere in my early to mid 30s, as my circle of smoking buddies was becoming smaller and smaller. More and more of my smoking was alone at home, as opposed to being a component of the social environment. This served to isolate me, which reinforced my perceived need to smoke, which further isolated me, etc. Although I never encountered any police or legal issues, I experienced many problems due to my use. I never did quite as well at my jobs as I should have, my living environment was in total disarray, my memory was horrible, my sleeping was erratic, my eating habits were disastrous, my romantic life was nonexistent and I barely had any friends. But I was high every day.
Basically, I was throwing everything else away to maintain my heavy use of marijuana. I realized it and wanted to change on some level, but I didn’t see a way out. I tried to bargain with myself and impose rationing strategies to curtail my use (no smoking until nightfall, take a break every other day, stop at a certain time every day, etc). Those never lasted more than a few days. There was always some way to rationalize my way back to where I was (I had a great day at work, I had a crappy day at work, it’s sunny, it’s snowing, traffic was horrible, there was no traffic and i flew home, etc). Whatever happened, the answer was to smoke. If I couldn’t even taper down my use for a brief period, quitting seemed about as realistic as becoming President, I had resigned myself to a life of going through the motions, getting by but nothing more, and being high whenever I could. The odd thing about that was that it wasn’t even fun anymore. I’d recall my early days of smoking and realizing how different it was. It was actually enjoyable, it contributed to a wild and crazy atmosphere and was a common interest for my friends and I. It enhanced my enjoyment of concerts, movies, sporting events and other activities. By this point it was just a way to blot out the bland emptiness that had become my life.
What Triggered You to Stop Smoking Weed?
I ended up meeting a wonderful woman who tolerated my use and patiently worked to bring me out of my isolated shell. At first, I was not willing to even consider quitting, but once we moved in together and got married, I cut back significantly. Two things in particular made me decide to give it up.
First was that she wanted kids. I knew that I’d need to be drug-free to begin that process, and that my children deserve a father who isn’t floating off in a cloud of pot smoke and putting himself and his family at risk in order to score. A using father is also a poor role model, and I want my children to be able to arrive at their decisions about drugs without that influence. Part of being a parent is setting aside some of your own wants. My experiences with my father were lacking (not due to drug use) and I want more for my children.
The other reason was that it really sank in how much of an expensive, self-indulgent habit it was. I was never one to settle for low or mid quality weed, so the costs were considerable, all so I could sit in a chair by myself and get high. It didn’t matter to me before, but the money spent on weed or the next cool bong, pipe or other smoking accessory was money that could have benefited the family as a whole. It was time for me to quit being so selfish. When this reality came into focus for me, I lost my desire to continue in that life.
I had hoped for a clear pathway to quitting and here was one. January 31, 2012 was my last use and I haven’t even wanted to partake since.
What was hardest about quitting weed?
The hardest thing was just seeing an alternative to the weed-centered life that I created for myself. I felt like I was so far down that road, that even taking a few steps in the right direction was more than I could accomplish. But once my perspective changed to accommodate others besides myself, the quitting process was remarkably easy. No withdrawals and no temptations.
How has life changed now that you have quit smoking weed?
It is so much better, that if you told me about it, I would not believe you. I have an amazing nine-month old son, I am in the final stages of earning a Master’s and will be starting an amazing job at General Motors next month. I am sleeping and eating much better, I’m more positive and it seems that my memory is beginning to improve. Part of me laments all the time wasted but in the final analysis, maybe I needed the journey to arrive at my destination. And I’m good with that.
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