Quitting weed: How to help a mate with addiction

Struggling to help a mate quit weed? We’re here to help.

How to help a mate quit weedWe’ve all been there – your good friend is involved in something you can see isn’t good for them and it’s taking a toll on them, their relationships, their lifestyle, and in a roundabout way, it’s taking a toll on you too. It might be a bad relationship, a love affair with the pokies, too much of the high life or perhaps even being addicted to weed. Suddenly your friend seems to care more about getting their weed or justifying why their action isn’t so bad, than they do about maintaining your friendship or even bothering to reply to your messages. If your mate is addicted to cannabis it can have a real impact on your friendship, particularly if you don’t use it yourself. So what do you do? Move on and find new friends, or stay and help despite all your advice so far appearing to fall on deaf ears?

Understanding addiction can help

If you’ve never been addicted to something it can be hard to understand just how difficult it can be to quit. For many people, giving up alcohol, comfort eating or weed is like losing a best friend. Their addiction becomes a crutch, a habit, an escape and something they can always turn to when they need to feel better; or even just to feel OK. The reasons people sink into addiction are many and varied. Something that started out as an occasional ‘treat’ or indulgence can quickly slide into an everyday habit and something they feel they can’t go without once addiction has set in. They may have been going through a hard time in their life – losing a job, a relationship, or struggling with a mental illness. It’s important to realise that once someone is addicted to something, quitting can feel virtually impossible. Weed is a drug of addiction. That means they have lost a degree of self control over their use and their body and brain has adapted to high levels of use and they are likely to have significant physical and mental discomfort when they try to cut down or quit. It’s not as simple as your friend ‘deciding’ to go cold turkey – they will likely experience a whole host of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they’ve used regularly, and will need a lot of support and information if their quit attempt is going to be successful.

Helping your mate quit weed

That’s where you come in – if your friend is able to acknowledge they have a problem and that the pros of smoking weed are not outweighing the cons anymore, you are in a prime position to offer them encouragement, plenty of distraction from their urges to use again and hope for the future. The good news is that most withdrawals will be over after two weeks (and the worst of it in less than 5 days) and the health benefits of ceasing use will begin the day they quit weed. Arm yourself with information and offer this to your mate, along with suggestions of where they can get help quitting weed if they need it. It’s important also, that as a mate you realise quitting can be a bit cyclical – your friend may give up, but fall off the wagon and then need to start again. It’s at this point that your support and lack of judgement can be most useful so they feel they can try again as opposed to deeming quitting just another lost cause.  

Where to get help quitting weed

A good place to start is the NCPIC website www.ncpic.org.au – it has a lot of information about quitting weed, withdrawal effects, where to get help and some do-it-yourself materials if they want to try quitting without the help of a professional first. Check out our online quit program, Reduce Your Use www.reduceyouruse.org.au, give the Cannabis Information and Helpline a call for free advice and referral information on 1800 30 40 50 and have a browse of the website for more. Just remember – you’re an awesome friend simply because you care and are reading this blog now. Your friend is lucky to have you!

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