Citation: Jeff. "Vicarious Interest, Addiction, and Recovery: experience with Cannabis (ID 64114)". Erowid.org. Apr 16, 2010. erowid.org/exp/64114
This is a recap of my first marijuana use, my gradual habituation and addiction, and my sober reflections as to why things went the way they did. The key word here is gradual as my addiction really snuck up on me through forces I didn't even understand at the time. For all I know, I knew them all too well but refused to acknowledge them. I don't want to preach and I can't pretend I know other people's tendency with marijuana and other drugs. I can only tell my story with the expectation that some one will reject it or find that they can relate.
I've always had a sort of curiosity and interest in drug usage all my life. I didn't necessarily think that drugs were bad as I had been taught in school but I rather always wondered what the truth about drug usage was from a more experiential point of view. I also always had an interest in psychedelics because they were always mentioned as the ones that make people see things and the idea of one's imagination taking over the senses always intrigued me as an artist.
Despite all of this moral leeway with drugs on my part, I never used drugs while I was in high school because I didn't see what good they could possibly do me. I also felt a sense of pride about not doing drugs. Something about that feeling of virginity from a potentially dangerous experience always felt good to me. It wasn't until one of my friends told me that I should try smoking pot that I decided to go through with it. I trusted him then and he was my best friend.
Mike took me to some guy's house and I smoked weed there for the first time. I remember feeling like, though I was concious, that I was literally nodding off with my eyes open. I felt disoriented and I honestly did not enjoy my first experience. I told Mike that I would never smoke pot again after that.
Soon after that Mike and I went to college. He jumped into the drug scene head-first. I soon realized that I was seeing him less and less as time went on. I started figuring out that I wouldn't see him as much if I didn't follow him into the woods with other stoners to smoke pot and do drugs. I started off with making very ocassional visits to the woods with Mike but I remained conciously irregular with this. At this point there were even times when I would initially say yes to a trip to the woods and then, three seconds later, realize that I didn't actually want to smoke weed, and say no.
It wasn't until I had been in a very traumatizing situation with this girl I had a sort of relationship with that I started using pot regularly. I was in a newly formed band with some class mates and our drummer always rolled spliffs after practice (Not before! We played techy death metal and hardcore.). It became a ritual to smoke, cook pasta, and watch a movie after practice. I participated with this ritual religiously. I didn't think about it at all. I didn't wonder about whether it was good for me, whether it was a good way to spend my time, or if I was even really enjoying it that much at all. I just did my work after classes, went to band-practice, joined the ritual, and went to bed. I didn't have a girlfriend at this time so I made the above mentioned routine my daily schedule.
I tried some other drugs around this time. Among these were mushrooms, DXM, LSD, Salvia, and many sorts of downers. I also drank occasionaly but I always kept that under strict control because a.) I'm such a light-weight, and b.) Alcoholic tendencies run in my family. Though I used these drugs more than once in a manner that qualified as being more than just experimentation, I was always very careful because I viewed psychidelics, alcohol, and downers as dangerous drugs if abused. Thus, I kept my use of these drugs very sparse, always waiting AT THE VERY LEAST two weeks between trips with only one exception where I Dexed two nights in a row and vowed never to do that again, not because I didn't like it, but because I knew how bad that was in terms of potential brain damage.
Despite my very carefully regulated use of these drugs, however, my marijuana usage was on the up and my use of that drug was very regular at that point already as I was smoking at least one or two monster spliffs a day. I never regulated my marijuana usage because I had convinced myself that it was not a problem, that there were no effects, and, most importantly, that it was not an addiction. I really just treated it as a ritual and didn't think at all about why I was smoking so much so regularly.
Things happened. I got into a couple of relationships that honestly were about as unhealthy as the traumatizing one I mentioned before which was my first, I kept smoking pot, and I managed to improve my grades over time though they were still not incredibly stellar. After my first year of college, Mike had to leave because of a drug-related burn out, a financial dip, sagging grades, and because his parents were worried about him. All this kind of came to me as a shock simply because I wasn't seeing him that often because my druggy circle didn't associate with his and I wasn't fully aware of his situation. I was admittedly half-expecting this to happen to him but I could never bring myself to believe it. I tried to help him at times and would try to help him get back on track but it was all for naught.
I did another year at school which went much like the previous year although this time a couple of things went different. For one, I felt much more alienated than I did before, as though everyone was constantly judging me even if they weren't. I also had a mild panic attack from smoking too much weed. Though this scared me and I initially promised myself that I'd 'stop smoking for awhile,' later that day I took fewer hits than usual and weened myself back into regular marijuana usage rather than actually taking a break. If anything I was just strengthening my tolerance so that I could continue smoking.
Later that year I graduated with my A.A. and no plan in life. I was unfocused. I wanted to be an ethnomusicologist and my professors were trying to set up a trip to South East Asia for me but I wasn't actually ready for any of that and I started to freak out. I had talked with a druggy friend of mine soon before then and we were both freaking out. She was freaking out because she had totally wasted her college career on hanging out and drinking and I was freaking out because all these plans were building up around me and I felt completely overwhelmed and incapable of handling the situation. At that point, we both agreed that we needed to give up on our current situations for now, rest up, and return when we each felt ready. Thus, against the wishes of my teachers, I left school for what I thought would be one semester so as to gather myself.
This semester turned into a year. Now I was smoking weed more than ever before. I was doing it at least three times a day usually by myself. It didn't matter how I felt or if I truly felt like smoke. I had ritualized it so much that I just smoked when ever I felt like 'doing something' without thinking about it. I probably could have spent this time actually doing something if I'd bothered to motivate myself. Instead, I smoked a lot of pot, joined a band with my other stoner friends including Mike that left me feeling rather uninspired, and I worked at a dollar store for minimum wage. I also began to find myself depressed whenever I didn't smoke weed which fuelled my regular usage. I started out with little rules like 'no smoking before work' and such but all these restrictions were broken one by one as I started accompanying everything I did with pot smoking.
As I smoked more and more, I started entertaining delusional views as part of my daily experience. I was always tripping a little during my daily life from all the cannabis in my system and I just figured I was like that inherently because I didn't want to admit that I was addicted. My feelings of alienation also grew stronger as time went on and I gradually weakened my self-esteem through this sort of thinking which made even more miserable.
I also noticed something about my friend Mike who I entered college with. I respected him when I knew him in high school. He was smart, funny, charming, and incredibly eloquent and charismatic. As he went to school and his drug usage increased, however, I noticed that he gradually became more and more zany and incoherent over time. After he left school, he came back for a few visits during the year that I was still going there and he used every visit as an excuse to trip sack. He ended up freaking out really bad on about 50% of these visits and everyone he knew on campus which was an impressive number would always have to come to his rescue. Whenever I was present for these occasions, I was always in the front lines with these other guys and girls, combing the campus looking for him or trying to comfort him while he was still in the grip of some paranoid delusion.
I remember he tripped sack on 2CE the night before my graduation and I ended up staying up all night with him, part of me pissed off that he wouldn't take my advice and enjoy this one night with me sober, and part of me following him because I was worried he'd do something crazy. This behavior on his part only got worse with time and his decline became more and more of a sore spot for me because he was my good friend and I cared about him a lot.
Eventually, towards the end of the year, after learning of some of the darker sides of being a druggy, I just said Fuck It and I stopped smoking pot. I had tried before then in a gradual fashion but that never worked because my gradual drop-off would always turn into a gradual increase in the end. This time, however, I just stopped smoking weed because I realized that I honestly didn't want to. I had realized that I was so addicted that kept smoking even though I honestly didn't even like it that much and I finally just got sick of it.
This sobriety lasted a few months. During this time I noticed a few interesting things. For one, I felt inspired again. It was during this time that I started making plans to finally return to school because I was ready to stop fucking around and get on with my life. I quit the band with my druggy friends and found that I felt uninspired with them because, honestly, they were not as skilled musicians as I was and I was dumbing down my riffs to suit them. When I parted ways with them musically I suddenly felt free to write whatever I wanted without having to dumb it down and I felt so inspired. To put it straight, the only symptom of my weed withdrawal was that I didn't feel depressed all the time anymore!
There was something else I noticed, though, something that made me feel very uneasy. My friends tried to hide it and pass it off like it was natural and nothing to be spoken about but I could see it clear as day. All my druggy friends were judging me. They assumed that I thought I was superior to them because I had stopped using drugs. Honestly, I respected all of them for their own gifts and persuasions and I didn't judge them. I felt very awkward and uncomfortable about all of this. Once my life was on track and school was set up and I felt ready to pursue my future, I was at this party and I finally just broke down and took a hit so that all my druggy 'friends' wouldn't look at me with that judging eye. This worked like magic and they suddenly stopped judging me which was a little strange to me.
So I went back to school once again as a stoner. I rejoined the old band which was still there and I went right back to smoking with the drummer all the time as before. This time, however, I was actually smoking twice as much as my first two years at this college because my drummer had befriended a big pot-head at this point and they would always collaborate so we'd smoke TWO big joints instead of just one for every trip to the woods.
This went on for awhile and during this time I finally found a girl and we fell in love with each other and formed what was the first good relationship for either of us. She actually cared about me and we were always considerate of each other which is more than can be said about my previous relationships. She made me think about so many things I had never thought about before such as my alienation, depression, and my addiction to weed that I still refused to consider an addiction ever though, in retrospect, it TOTALLY was, no question. For once I actually had to question a lot of the things I was doing including smoking weed and many things inextricably connected with it.
One night when I was smoking weed, something happened to me. I was puffing on a big, powerful joint when, suddenly, I started to hallucinate, and I mean REALLY hallucinate. The usual open eye pattern visuals soon gave way to the feeling that ants were crawling up my legs. I got scared and then the buddha of wisdom shoved his sword down my spine and told me to keep it together. I felt fine for a moment until I realized that I was totally just hallucinating a moment ago.
Then the pattern visuals got denser, and denser, and DENSER. After a few seconds, I couldn't see anything other than the pattern visuals. Then I couldn't hear anymore. Then I couldn't feel anything. I was completely out but not exactly unconcious because I could still see the pattern visuals and I could tell that I wasn't asleep. Even though my comprehension of time was pretty fucked at this point, I think it was about a minute before my hearing came back. After another minute or so my sight returned to normal and I could see that my drummer and stoner friend were holding me by my armpits and that I had fallen to my knees. A few minutes later I regained enough feeling in my body to use my legs again. A minute later I could walk and then a few moments later I felt totally fine again, you know, apart from being a bit freaked out about what I had just experienced.
I had never felt this before but it made me realize a few things about my marijuana usage. For one, this moment was a cumulative process. Long after this happened I heard a Terrence McKenna spoken word where he said that if one smokes a LOT A LOT of strong cannabis in one sitting then this sort of fast-acting, salvia-like trip likely to happen. I thought for a moment. When this happened to me, I hadn't smoked a ton of weed at once. I was smoking the same amount I was usually smoking during that general span of time. The only way I could figure this had happened was that the large amounts THC I'd been smoking regularly were collecting in my brain and that the one night I tripped hard must have just been the tipping point.
I also realized something else. I had regulated all my other drug usage except for weed because I assumed that a.) marijuana doesn't have any physically addictive properties, and b.) marijuana doesn't pose any long-term risks of abundant usage. I think I was wrong about these premises because I noticed that long-term usage was exactly what had incited the panic attack from my second year at college and my power-trip that I just described. I stopped smoking weed again intially for this reason and, while sober, I realized that the alienation, the feelings that I was just a strange guy with odd views, and the depression and aimlessness were all directly proportional to how much weed I smoked. In other words, the more I smoked, the more alienated, worthless, and depressed I would feel. This proved true to me as I quit smoking and felt the effects of the cannabis disapating over time.
After all of this, I still smoked on rare occasions to test myself and make sure I wasn't just blaming all of my problems on the drug. Sure as shit, smoking the weed just made me depressed and confused as before although the alienation wasn't as bad because I finally accepted the idea that, hey, maybe I'm not such a fucking wierdo moron afterall. Also, the night after the trip, I smoked one hit and got a headache which made it clear to me that my brain was in no shape to handle any more THC.
After quitting weed and all other drugs with the exception of the occasional beer (just one please, thank you), I noticed just how energetic and inspired I suddenly felt. I think that smoking honestly made me feel lazy and feeling lazy made me feel incapable. Feeling incapable made me feel useless because it made me feel like I was unable to strive for my goals with enough vigor. Whenever I'd quite smoking I'd suddenly have energy again and feel able to work towards my goals which took a huge bite out of my depression.
After quitting smoking weed, I had much more energy indeed. I started my Senior year a semester early, I finally went on that trip to South East Asia from which I returned probably a week ago, and I'm writing my final thesis project. To top it off, I no longer feel so depressed about my future because I have had the energy and focus to consider my options and I realize that I have all sorts of options and enough drive to pursue these different paths and maybe even enough foresight to make a living which is always nice.
That's my four year-or-so journey with weed in a nutshell. I am not attempting to demonize marijuana and stoners with this writing. This is just my true and honest account of what happened to me and my life when I smoked cannabis. All I can say is that I used weed so I that I wouldn't think about my problems and that only fuelled these problems as they grew more powerful and more out of my control. This doesn't mean that everyone gets this from it.
I only wish to posit the following things. These are my views that I believe, not a priori facts. I habituated weed without thinking about it, made myself believe I wasn't addicted which became harder with time as my usage increased, and I felt the inspiration to get my shit together when I quit smoking. If anyone, especially drug-users, who has read my submission can relate to anything I have said then all I ask is that you sincerely think about your own drug usage and try to truly understand why you do drugs. If it is honestly for experimentation or a fun day (but not several in a row!), then that is fine. If, however, these reasons are actually just excuses for explaining away an underlying addiction then I highly reccomend that you deeply consider the full implications of your drug usage.
Also, peer pressure is not as simple and quantified as those anti-drug fools would like you to believe. Peer pressure does not just come from other people telling you to do drugs. For me peer pressure was a purely personal reaction to friends' drug usage and I even thought that doing drugs with friends was a good way to form or even preserve connections with them. All I can say is that, personally, I don't think that the drug-usage connection can ever be as strong as a true, emotional connection with that person.
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