I remember when I was 13 years old, I was walking down a residential street with some friends to a park in my neighborhood when someone pulled out a joint and lit it. It was just about to turn dark outside, and I was nervous my neighbors could see I was about to use marijuana for the first time. That didn’t stop me. I wanted to try it. I only took two hits as stealthily as possible. It felt good. I felt relaxed. We laughed a lot.
I wanted to get my hands on some more so I could do it privately to avoid getting in trouble, and I found someone to buy a dime bag off of. This was the second time I smoked marijuana and the first time for my friend I was with. We went through the woods and into an abandoned train tunnel to be secluded. We had no tolerance for marijuana and smoked a gram using a homemade bowl. Wow, this was not like the first time I smoked marijuana; I didn’t know marijuana could be so strong. This time, we both got way too high and were not laughing. Instead, we were paranoid. Once we got enough bearings to leave the tunnel and walk through town, we hid at his house. After a couple of hours, it wore off enough for it to feel good. I realized that it could easily be overdone. That was the last time I bought marijuana for myself until I was twenty-one years old.
I still smoked a few times a month when someone else had it. During this time, I never intentionally smoked too much at once, however it did happen a handful of times. I did not become addicted during those years, although I did not think marijuana was addictive. I didn’t realize that people even smoked it every day. I knew what being addicted to cigarettes was like, and I didn’t need marijuana like that back then. In all those years, I managed to get caught only a few times, but it never caused any problems.
When I was twenty years old, I decided to join the National Guard to earn college money. I knew there was a possibility of being drug tested during the drill exercises once a month, but I still wanted to be able to smoke every once in a while. I figured out that it only takes two weeks for marijuana to leave the body, so the safest time to smoke would be the Sunday evening of every month. This would give me the longest possible time between drill exercises for my system to clear out.
My use progressed. I couldn’t just have a few hits when somebody else had it anymore. Now I had to buy it myself because I needed it on specific days. I would buy an eighth of the lowest quality weed for twenty dollars, smoke as much as I wanted, share it with my friends, and then give the rest of it away so that I wouldn’t have any on me the rest of the month. I was good at this routine and stuck to it for about two years.
Then one month I didn’t give the rest away since I figured if I smoked for two days, I would still be clean by the next drill. Those two days turned into a few months when I told myself we didn’t have random urinalyses every month. I liked being high all day, every day. I felt relaxed and was sleeping really well, and I got along better with people. I thought music sounded better and liked hiking and fishing better. My senses seemed heightened, and I could hear a bird’s wings flapping a mile high in the sky.
Then one day I ran out of marijuana in the middle of the afternoon, and my dealer friend was out but said he would have more tomorrow. I told him that was cool; I’d get it tomorrow. No problem, right? Wrong. At first, I just felt a little flushed, like warm or feverish. Even though I was drinking alcohol that evening, I couldn’t sleep at all. My brain just would not turn off. I also felt sort of panicky. I had never felt this way before. I knew it was because I was withdrawing. It was like withdrawing from cigarettes, but ten times worse. I wouldn’t have believed it before, but here I was, living it. This is how I found out marijuana is addictive. I needed at least one gram a day in order not to experience withdrawal symptoms.
When I was 22, I had a two week annual training, so I intended quit, but I ended up hurting my back. After three weeks of being marijuana free, I couldn’t take the pain anymore, so I started smoking again. It was great at first. The first gram lasted like five days, but in just three weeks, I was back to requiring at least one gram of marijuana a day in order to function. All the other benefits of smoking gradually dissipated.
Also, I started feeling irritable when I used marijuana. I didn’t understand why I was losing patience with people when I was smoking weed all day.
Then I experienced the ugliest withdrawal symptom of them all, severe bowel pain. If I didn’t smoke some marijuana every two, or God forbid, four hours, the bowel pain would be debilitating. I also experienced diarrhea if I didn’t smoke that often. I couldn’t eat without smoking because I was too nauseous, and if I didn’t smoke after eating even a small amount of food, the bowel problems kicked in with a vengeance. So at this point, I need two grams a day in order to eat, sleep, work, and function at all.
At this point, I didn’t even feel high anymore when I smoked. It was costing me $260 a month for two ounces. I would have loved to be able to cut down or quit altogether, but I couldn’t because of the horrible withdrawals.
Now that I was older, I was hoping if things got bad enough with marijuana it would be easier for me to quit. I was wrong again. I made multiple attempts to stop between the ages of thirty and thirty-four. I didn’t turn the corner until I learned about Marijuana Anonymous (MA).
I found out about MA through a counselor who ran an IOP, intensive outpatient program. There were only two MA meetings in my entire state. A friend of mine was going to one in the city, but I wasn’t going to be able to drive there on my own on a consistent basis. There was another meeting close to where I lived, but it wasn’t held consistently. I wasn’t going to be able to be sober by only attending one meeting a week. So I asked some friends at a local AA clubhouse if I could hold an MA meeting there, and they said yes.
I’ve been running an MA meeting every Monday night for over nine years now without relapsing. I need this weekly meeting to stay clean from marijuana, and I need to stay clean in order to run this meeting. This system works for me. I don’t make excuses or “sincere declarations” to myself to use anymore; there is no deterrent from my own horrible experiences with marijuana. I do get a deterrent to use marijuana by openly talking about my past and present problems with marijuana in meetings. Marijuana Anonymous helped me realize how bad smoking marijuana really was and how much better life is without it. That’s something I could never do on my own. I recommend that anyone with marijuana problems use their time to attend Marijuana Anonymous meetings because it takes time to get time. After all, it’s so much easier for me to remain abstinent due to the time I’ve put in this time without smoking.