I recall that the first time I smoked pot, I was 15. Nothing happened that time, but the second time I used, it was high-potency marijuana, and I recall it making my eyes constantly look off to the side. I had a good time, I suppose, but the experience was pretty scary.
If I hadn’t had so many pot-smoking friends, my experimentation would have ended there. Over and over again, marijuana would come up in my social interactions and over time, I grew to really, really enjoy it.
My late teens started with pot smoking and underage drinking, by my early 20s I was using cocaine. So much so, that by the time I turned 21, I was already feeling burnt out.
I never really considered myself a marijuana addict until some time deep into the COVID pandemic. Deeply bored and unhappy, I began using cannabis as a means to cope with this malaise.
I began to really develop an issue when I discovered Delta 8. If you don’t know, Delta 8 is an alternative form of THC developed from the hemp plant that is currently being sold even in states where cannabis is illegal. It gets you about as high as regular cannabis, and can easily be bought at a variety of regular stores.
A disturbing thing that came up, and that I routinely ignored, was that certain hallucinations I had from abusing these drugs years before would fully come back when I consumed THC. Particularly what came up were “smoke and shadow” I feel extremely blessed that my use of cannabis never developed into full-blown schizophrenia or psychosis, as this is unfortunately quite common for marijuana users.
From there, the Delta 8 quickly lost its potency for me and I switched over both to regular cannabis, which I would hop the border to Illinois for, and THC-0, a non-natural form of THC derived from Delta 8 that is estimated to be 300% stronger than typical cannabis. This too is legal and can easily be bought online. The legal loophole that allows for products like Delta 8 and THC-O is an exploitation of the 2018 US Farm Bill that needs to quickly be closed.
I realized I had a problem in January of 2022. By this point, I was emotionally unreceptive to the people I loved, had to smoke pot in order to do just about anything, and was dabbing the highest THC concentrates the state of Illinois had to offer. I felt spiritually dead.
Potheads love to state that cannabis isn’t addictive because there isn’t such a thing as *marijuana withdrawal. This is just absolutely false, and I suspect a good number of them are either in denial about this fact, ignorant, or simply lying through their teeth. On my second day without marijuana, I threw a chair in the kitchen and had to be restrained by my wife because I was simply so unbelievably emotionally unstable. Sleep was, and is still, deeply disturbed. I have very stressful nightmares every night, and many nights are spent simply without getting any sleep. I dream constantly of smoking pot. In spite of my contempt for the drug and my complete philosophical rejection of the drug, I still deeply want it.
I joined the fellowship of Marijuana Anonymous(MA) and connected with people who understood addiction in a way that nobody else had before. I love MA tremendously, but a central tenet of the group is not to get politics involved with the fellowship; a necessary rule.
However, I feel the best way to serve my fellow marijuana addict is to do work to prevent people from developing marijuana addiction in the first place and spread my story so others can approach this drug with a fuller picture of the potential damage it could do.
*Editor’s Note: Cannabis Withdrawal can be found in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-5). The symptoms can be:
- Sleep disturbances/nightmares
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain