Quitting Weed: The Essentials
Even the question of “should I quit smoking weed?” might be hard for some people to reckon with since popular thinking has it that weed is not harmful or addictive. This way of thinking then leads people to believe that there are no legitimate reasons to quit smoking weed. Except, there are reasons to quit smoking weed. Some of them include:
- A numbness toward life and feelings
- Increased paranoia
- Low to non-existent functionality
- Social isolation and alienation
- Severe hallucinations
These are just some of the adverse psychological effects of frequent and prolonged marijuana use. If we start to talk about the adverse physical effects, they include:
- Respiratory problems
- Short and long-term memory loss
- Increased heart rate
- Developmental problems, especially in teenagers
Any discussion on the reasons people quit smoking weed should begin with the acknowledgment of the existence of marijuana dependency. No less an authority than the New England Journal of Medicine, as recently as 2014, has stated that “Despite some contentious discussions regarding the addictiveness of marijuana, the evidence clearly indicates that long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction.”
So now that we have established that there are excellent reasons to quit marijuana, let’s go through some of the ways people use to finally get themselves down from the marijuana high.
How to Quit Weed: Step by Step
Stop Buying/Getting It
If you have committed yourself to living weed-free than this should be your first step. Unlike tobacco or alcohol, stopping buying weed should be the easiest part of quitting, since it is not so readily available – unless you live in a state when recreational marijuana is legal. You can’t smoke it if you don’t got it. This steps involves nothing more than sheer willpower.
You might feel strong urges, once your stash is gone, to pick up the phone or go over to a friend’s house to get some but find a way to distract yourself – spend some time with a loved one, go out with non-smoking friends, do something fun that does not involve getting high.
Get rid of paraphernalia
During your weed-smoking days, you probably surrounded yourself with all kinds of accessories, pipes, bongs, rolling papers, grinders, etc. Once you have entered that new, weed-free phase in your life, it can only makes matters worse to have all those triggers around you. So it only makes sense to get rid of them all. If some of those accessories were expensive or hold some kind of sentimental value, you can give them away just so you don’t have to see them everyday.
Quitting weed smoking cold turkey, just like quitting tobacco cold turkey, comes with its own pitfalls and withdrawal phase. The most serious of these pitfalls is the incessant cravings that come with quitting all of a sudden.
The unique thing about weed is that, unlike nicotine which leaves the body relatively quickly, the active chemical ingredient in weed, THC, is stored in fat cells, so even after you stop smoking small amounts of THC get released into your body, which invariably triggers cravings.
You would think that this would actually help you – kind of like a nicotine replacement therapy but for weed – having small amounts of THC released into your body. Except, since they are only small amounts and since your body is used to receiving more, it actually works against you.
Controlling cravings then becomes your most difficult and most important task. Some of the better ways to control you cravings include:
- Doing something else – Seems really simple, doesn’t it? But it is true that distracting yourself from wanting to smoke weed is a very easy way to control your cravings. Take up a hobby, do something you always wanted to do but were too high too start or finish and you will forget all about weed.
- Exercise/Physical activity – Why don’t we exercise more? It helps with practically everything, from your overall physical health to alleviating symptoms of depression, exercise is a cure-all. Helping take your mind off of smoking weed is another thing that exercise is excellent at doing.
- Having a support system – Having people you can call in times of need is essential in life, but when you are trying to quit weed it is doubly useful so they can give you the support and motivation to stay away from marijuana.
- Avoid idleness – This has a lot to do with the first one. Having nothing better to do is one reason people take up smoking weed in the first place. So don’t fall into that trap.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms
Since we already established above that marijuana is an addictive substance, it naturally follows that once you give it up, some withdrawal symptoms are sure to follow. Symptoms like:
Again, everything that we mentioned about how to control your cravings can also be applied to controlling your withdrawal symptoms. Exercise, of course, but we can also add to that list:
- Eat healthier foods, high fiber foods, green leafy vegetables
- Drink plenty of water
- Drink coffee (caffeine is a great antidote to the lethargy brought on by weed)
- Drink teas with high concentrations of antioxidants
Cold Turkey Is Not Working for Me
Everything that we already mentioned is basically quitting weed cold turkey, but it is entirely possible that it is not working for you, so what do you do? If you are finding it difficult to stay away from weed, maybe it is time you try one of the following:
- See an addiction counselor – There is no shame in seeking professional help if you are trying to quit weed. A counselor can help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction and help you create a treatment plan.
- Marijuana Anonymous – An offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous exists to help you work through your addiction through group meetings and by working through the much vaunted 12 Step recovery program.
- Rehab – If all else has failed, entering a rehab program might be your best option. Just be aware that rehab is a costly and time-consuming endeavor, so be sure that you have the resources and time to commit to it.
Ending the High Times
People have different reasons for wanting to stop smoking weed. Maybe it takes over their life, as is the case with all addictions, and does not leave them time or energy to do anything else. It could be a health matter or it could be, as was the case for long-time pro-marijuana celebrity Woody Harrelson, that you are no longer “emotionally available” to your friends and loved ones.
Whatever the reason, a lot of people are successful when it comes to quitting weed. Try following the steps listed here to see if they work for you or you can come up with your own plan. Just remember that life without smoking weed and marijuana is possible.