As many of us know, trying weed may be easy, but for those who go on to get hooked, quitting can be one of the greatest challenges in our lives. For some, it can really be a drug that sticks its claws in, affecting every part of our lives, and refusing to let go, even when we re ready to move on. One of our NCPIC team members recently had the opportunity to sit down with twenty-seven year old Mark*, a good mate of his, and talk candidly about his initial experiences following his recent decision to quit weed after 10 years of use.
Mark made his decision for a lot of reasons, but said his experiences with anxiety and sleep problems were major influences. When he joined us, he had been weed-free for two weeks, opting to go cold turkey.
How long have you been using weed?
I smoked my first joint at 16, but didn’t really get into smoking regularly until my early 20s and then daily in my mid-20s. Since 2011, I have smoked daily.
Why did you decide to quit weed?
I have never really been too concerned with potential side effects of smoking weed, I have always said I smoke weed because it enhances my life. I have set myself a number of goals this year that I would like to achieve. These goals are not insignificant and will have a profound impact on my life in the years to come. Unfortunately I no longer enjoy smoking weed regularly, instead it exacerbates my anxiety and slows my drive. Smoking weed no longer enhances my life, and I would rather be successful than a stoner, no matter how much fun I thought it was.
What made you want to quit weed?
It was the night after I had been working on my new business idea, we had been discussing the potential roadblocks/competitors. I had smoked a joint early in the night and it wasn’t until I decided to go to bed that I really started to feel uneasy. I was high, but not catatonic, enough though that I couldn’t stop thinking about the potential risks and reasons I would fail. I woke in the morning hyperventilating and experienced a mild panic attack it was then I decided I had two options; give up weed or give up the dream. It was a pretty easy decision in retrospect.
What has been toughest about quitting?
I do miss being high, but the feeling of satisfaction I get from achieving what I have set out to do is more rewarding than being high.
What difficulties do you anticipate down the track?
I know this won’t be the last time I smoke a joint, the difficulty will be making sure I don’t revert back to old habits and go back to smoking every day. I would like to be able to enjoy a joint only on an occasion, not regularly, just because I can.
What positive changes have you noticed?
I’m beginning to be able to manage my anxiety and I’m sleeping better (I have also given up coffee). I am more efficient and effective at work and much more productive.
Do you have advice for others trying to quit weed?
It’s really difficult to convince someone they need to stop smoking weed. It’s a very individual challenge and a very personal drug. If people have decided to quit, I can only suggest you should not be hard on yourself. If you truly want to quit weed and believe you can do it, you will find the strength. I, for one, can attest to the satisfaction I get from saying no thank you when offered a joint. I try not to say Oh no thanks, I quit or Nah, I don t touch the stuff anymore . I simply say no thank you and continue with the conversation. Drawing attention to weed and denying yourself, rather than congratulating yourself, is only going to result in you lashing out and relapsing. Stay positive, focused and enjoy having conviction. It s not easy, but damn it feels good saying no thank you and sticking to your goals, rather than being all woe is me and feeling sorry for yourself.
We ll catch up again with Mark* in a few months to see how he s progressing and report back on some of his toughest challenges and how he s feeling about his decision to cut down and quit.
If you or someone you know would like to know more about quitting cannabis, please call the National Cannabis Information and Helpline on 1800 30 40 50.