First, let me start by saying this is just my experience smoking pot. I’m not here to tell anyone else if they are or are not an addict at all. I also recognize that many people who smoke marijuana lead healthy and productive lives. However, this isn’t the case for everyone, as it wasn’t for me. I ended up causing quite a bit of pain and suffering with my addiction, and ended up needing to seek treatment for marijuana addiction.
I started smoking weed when I was eleven years old. It was the summer after the sixth grade, and I had a friend with an older brother who smoked. We wanted to try it, so we took a couple buds from his brother and stuffed it in a poorly-made soda can pipe. Although I grew up in an alcoholic household and had experienced some adversity in my childhood, I didn’t feel in the moment like I desperately needed to escape. I was a good student, had some friends, and was overall a normal kid.
Looking back, the reason I smoked with my friend was really based in two things. First, it was a desire to belong and to connect with my friend. He didn’t hit me with pressure or anything, but I really saw it as our secret and an opportunity to bond. Second, I was simply curious. I knew other people who smoked that were older than me, and I wanted to know what it was all about. It was relatively innocent at the time.
I don’t remember having any white-light experience of loving the way it made me feel. I do know that I kept smoking here and there for a year or so. I didn’t actively seek it out, but I did smoke when friends had it. My lifestyle really didn’t change much, my grades were stable, and I had the same friend group that I always had. Realistically, all was good.
By the end of middle school, I was smoking a few times a week. I had a paper route to make some money and would save lunch money instead of eating. In high school, I began smoking almost daily. This is when my grades really started to drop, I began to seek out friends who smoked like I did, and my lifestyle really changed. I didn’t notice this happening at the time, and it was a slow change.
People around me noticed it. I had a few good friends who brought my behavior up with me but I shrugged them off. Eventually, I stopped being friends with those people as they didn’t support my marijuana abuse. My parents also of course knew what was up. They were constantly on me, searching my things and grounding me. However, I continued to use regularly. Part of being a kid and getting in trouble for smoking is building a resistance to authority, as I didn’t want to listen to what my parents had to say.
I got sober when I was 16 and stayed clean for about a year. This was with a “judge nudge,” as I got arrested for a Driving While Intoxicated as I was smoking pot with a friend while driving. I didn’t want to be sober, and it was tough. I ended up starting smoking again and returning to daily use almost immediately. When I went to college, things got worse.
For the first time in my life I was on my own, and I took advantage of the freedom by smoking all day every day. I really never did well in school and was on academic probation after my first semester. I wasn’t doing well in school, so I smoked more pot to deal with it. As I smoked more marijuana, my grades declined further. This is the vicious cycle created by marijuana dependence.
Even though things were a mess in my life because of my marijuana habit, I kept using. This is a pretty standard characteristic of marijuana abuse. In my mind, everyone and everything were to blame for my problems EXCEPT my marijuana use. Maybe I knew somewhere deep down, but I refused to acknowledge it.
My relationships with my family deteriorated quite a bit. I stopped talking to my sisters, and my relationship was tense with my parents. When I got kicked out of school, that was the end of the road for me. I had squandered a pretty wonderful opportunity for an education at a good liberal arts university. It was at this time that my parents told me that I could go to treatment to get help or they were cutting me off financially.
I went to a treatment center, but absolutely did not want to be sober. I went just to please my parents and get them off my back. I was not happy about being there, but ended up learning quite a bit. I got a sponsor in Marijuana Anonymous, and ended up working the twelve steps. As I stayed sober longer, I began to realize that this might not be so bad. My sponsor asked me early in my recovery if I was willing to entertain the idea that there may be a better way to live than the way in which I was living my life.
Although I wasn’t convinced that sobriety was for me or even a plausible solution, I had to admit that there may possibly be a better way to live. I don’t know where that moment of open-mindedness came from, but I’m deeply grateful for it. It’s now been almost ten years, and I haven’t smoked marijuana or consumed any drugs or alcohol since then.
Although getting sober was hard and I struggled with cravings, missing the ritual of smoking with friends, and wanting an escape from my difficulties, I’m incredibly grateful that I made it through those first few months without marijuana and stuck with it. My life today is full. I have a job, support myself and my wife, and am able to face life as it arises. When I need to chill out at the end of the day, I read, meditate, or take a bath. I’ve found other ways to enjoy myself that are healthier and lead to more long-term happiness.