Bad Trips
July 23, 2011 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I enjoy smoking Marijuana anymore, and what can I do about it?

I'm in my early thirties. Starting about 4-5 years ago, I suddenly no longer enjoy the high from smoking pot. In fact, quite the opposite. Paranoia and severe negative introspection kick in, and my personal space boundary expands: "What the fuck is going on outside? What is that sound? Should I be doing something about it? Who is talking outside? Are they talking about me? Did they call the police on me?" and "I'm a terrible husband/father/son etc." I haven't smoked any in years, but I would like to enjoy a nice buzz once in awhile.

Have you ever had this problem, and if so, how were you able to relax and enjoy yourself?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I am no kind of expert, but I do know you can got a wide variety of different highs from different strains. Have you tried some different sources?
posted by Glinn at 5:14 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make sure that you buy good weed and try different strains. There really is something to be said for different strains acting differently.

Don't smoke too much. In fact, take a hit and leave it at that.
posted by TheBones at 5:15 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not uncommon, according to many of my musician friends. Their working theory is that it is the result of semi-permanent brain changes, or the increasing strength of pot these days. Indica strains are somewhat more mellow than sativa strains, I'm told, but there is no guarantee that you'll even enjoy mild versions of indica. Some people, starting in their late twenties, just lose the ability to enjoy the chronic, due to increasing paranoia, headaches, or vertigo. If there is any good news in being one of those people, it's that you may gain less weight due to munchies...
posted by paulsc at 5:16 PM on July 23, 2011

I rarely smoke anymore because of the exact same issue. I used to be able to enjoy it under pretty much any circumstances, but now I have to be pretty careful with my set and setting. I haven't found that any particular different strain has been better or worse. Mild doses are better than heavy doses.

It only takes a few of those that "swept up in a huge philosophical vortex that underscores the utter futility of existence -- and not in a good way" trips to make you start reconsidering it as a recreational thing.
posted by hermitosis at 5:18 PM on July 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're smoking now because you'd like to chill out due to significant anxiety/stress, maybe this is your brain letting you know that you might need to be doing more to deal with the anxiety (therapy, self-CBT, addressing problems directly, etc.). I'm mostly saying this because of your "I'm a terrible husband/father/son etc." comment... is that related to how you're feeling when you're NOT smoking marijuana?
posted by so_gracefully at 5:23 PM on July 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, to the extend that you consider marijuana a psychedelic experience (and I basically do) this may partly be what Alan Watts meant when he said, "When you get the message, hang up the phone."

Kesey felt similarly -- he appealed to the Merry Pranksters "graduate" from psychedelic use and put their expanded consciousness to work on new things, rather than go through the same door over and over again.

You expanded your awareness with marijuana, and now there isn't really anywhere else for your mind to go with it, so it just turns back on itself and goes in pointless circles.

Just a theory.
posted by hermitosis at 5:23 PM on July 23, 2011 [19 favorites]

A friend of mine had these exact symptoms. For years. Couldn't smoke without turning into a self loathing anxious mess. Within the last year or two he met a girl, organized his life a bit, settled down and starting working towards something concrete.

Lo and behold, he can smoke without getting anxious again.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:33 PM on July 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Smoke better weed in a nice, secure setting.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:34 PM on July 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Tolerance break?
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:35 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and try smoking after the sun goes down, or as it's going down. You feel much less likely to be disturbed.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:38 PM on July 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I haxd the exact experience, and my solution was to stop smoking. I have not missed it, either.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:45 PM on July 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Advice that helped me with a similar (actually, the same) problem: smoke when you don't need to.

Don't blaze after a shitty day at work or after having a fight with your wife; problems will arise when you smoke with the mentality that the high will provide a "pick-me-up" that will make everything better.

Instead, smoke when your world fucking rocks--smoke when you're in such a good mood already that you don't even care about the high in the first place.

Take this from a guy who once stayed up all night after smoking weed because he thought a minute of sleep would cause his brain to explode. Not anymore.
posted by lobbyist at 5:46 PM on July 23, 2011

Try smoking a little less. If you normally take a few tokes just do half as many. And, as others have suggested, try a different variety, play some music you like, relax and enjoy.
posted by mareli at 5:51 PM on July 23, 2011

Perhaps relaxing with a joint is one of the few times you get to chill out in an otherwise stressful life. Maybe look into a more indica-heavy strain that doesn't have the head-high of sativa-rich blends. It might help you get more of the relaxing effects, without the mental perturbations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:56 PM on July 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Chiming in to say I've also had this exact problem, after being a rather heavy smoker for several years. At first I thought I might just need to give it some time, but even as recently as a few months ago I still had the horrible anxiety and introspection -- definitely not relaxing. I switched to having a couple of glasses of wine when I need to chill out.
posted by woodvine at 6:42 PM on July 23, 2011

After smoking and enjoying marijuana regularly for several years, I had a similar experience, where it seemed like all the enjoyment I used to get from marijuana was suddenly gone. It didn't correspond to a different type of marijuana, social group, or any other kind of life change. It was just like a switch was flipped, and suddenly every sojourn was one of these frustrating, stressful head trips. I tried dialing back, drinking a little to ease the stress, smoking with different people in different settings, but it was just a bell I couldn't un-ring. Every high was the same, and was really unpleasant. It took a long time but I just stopped seeking it out.

I've tried giving it another shot every few years, but still don't enjoy it anymore. And ultimately it's not a loss, at all, once you're through the transition. At least it wasn't for me. I'm happy for people for whom it's an enjoyable experience, but there is no shortage of enjoyable experiences in the world, and no reason you have to torment yourself to make this particular one work. I'm happy for what I got from it, and happy to leave it behind.
posted by churl at 6:43 PM on July 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Pot is ridiculously strong now. It used to be a simple, happy buzz - but now I have to be careful when I indulge not to get to a 'can't walk and talk at the same time' stage. Age may be a factor as well, but there's nothing wrong with cutting back or finding another way to relax if it's not fun anymore.

(I seem to have better luck with edibles, YMMV.)
posted by Space Kitty at 6:52 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try hash. It's more of a body buzz, less debilitating and the paranoia isn't as much of an issue. Or so I've heard.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:55 PM on July 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I know some people get this experience from time to time. If it is not enjoyable you shouldn't keep trying.
Take a break and maybe rediscover it later.

/also strains are different, I have particulars I enjoy. Hash can be really great as well as edibles as the experience is more of a strong body effect.
posted by handbanana at 7:19 PM on July 23, 2011

I'll go against the grain and say that you might be smoking too little. I started getting this way in my mid-twenties, but only from smoking small amounts, where I'm aware of being half-stoned and get self-conscious and self-critical. I find now I prefer smoking less regularly, but when I do I go all in and get fully baked at times when I have no obligations and can just roll with it (and, as someone else recommended, this is almost always in the evening or at night).

Also, seconding Card Cheat's hash recommendation, although it's really hard to obtain here in Vancouver.
posted by mannequito at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2011

Should add - on the subject of no obligations, I like to actually turn my phone off, get some nice low lighting with candles or lamps, and not set any agenda for my high-time. It seems like whatever I had planned no longer interests me; say if I planned to smoke and then play a little guitar, I will come back inside and just want to pick up my book, poke around Metafilter, watch cartoons, who knows. But I could just as easily plan to read my book, smoke, then wind up strumming the guitar for 2 hours straight. Sometimes, against my intentions, I'll try to force myself to stick with the original plan, ruining the experience.

All of this will vary with your own preferences, of course.
posted by mannequito at 8:03 PM on July 23, 2011

Chiming in to say that I started having this problem in my late twenties, after spending a couple of years high, more or less. I just no longer enjoyed it, and in my head, it turned me into an anxious, self-conscious, self-hating mess. I've smoked a few times in the ten years since, and I have the same experience, each time. I figure that pot's not for me -- it brings out all of the parts of my personality I don't like. I just stick to beer now, which makes me feel loud and friendly.
posted by heurtebise at 8:07 PM on July 23, 2011

I have actually had the exact opposite experience of most people on here. I started smoking in my early 20s and had horrible anxiety and panic attacks, so much that I stopped smoking for 6 years.

In that time I got physically healthier, safer, and overall more relaxed. Now I smoke and its fricken awesome. So there is that.

Maybe you just need to feel safer and reduce the stress in your life? That was the key for me.
posted by Takeyourtime at 8:23 PM on July 23, 2011

Can't smoke it anymore. Makes me too stupid, tot he point I can't walk well. Seconding try it in edible form
posted by edgeways at 10:08 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hash. Edibles.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:15 PM on July 23, 2011

A friend who required MM after chemo experienced similar issues but it was relieved with small doses of Lorezapam. They were legitimately diagnosed with anxiety, though.
posted by batmonkey at 10:17 PM on July 23, 2011

My husband is reading this thread over my shoulder (and refuses to get his own account) and wants to chime in:

Hi all, I'm 49 and have some experience with this... If I'm smoking regularly (daily) I get nice relaxing, non intense buzzes. If I go without for a while and then smoke some, I get the same nervous, over-analytical thoughts you're describing. I also prefer cheap weed (not just for economic reasons). Kind bud is too dopey at first, then I get acclimated and smoke just as much as if it were schwag. I recommend getting a cheap bag and sticking with it for a few days and see where it leads. On the other hand, supporting the cartels is bad, so these days I've been growing my own and smoke seasonally, then quit when I run out.
posted by hollyanderbody at 10:40 PM on July 23, 2011

I was really into smoking pot, couldn't stand drinking, then ran with a different bunch of friends for about six months, drinkers, and when I got back to the pot-head friends it didn't work for me anymore, it made me small, shy as hell, paranoid, introverted as hell. And then the only way I could enjoy pot was if I was also drinking; pot made me small but alcohol brought me right back to size, and then of course enough speed to keep it all moving ... It was a totally annoying pain in my ass trying to keep it all balanced, more work than it was worth, though I sure was willing to keep trying for a long time.

What I missed worst, and what kept me smoking it even after it'd started giving me the same jive you're getting, I missed reading when high, missed watching movies high, missed having sex high. So I kept smoking it for a while but I'd have to feel or know that I was in a very safe environment, ie if reading or watching a movie it would be alone, sex either alone or with someone I really, REALLY trusted. Ah, yes, music also, music was great, but headphones. It turned into a very solitary thing for me, pot did, I'm not saying that was good or bad, just what it was.

I set it all down a number of years ago -- both drinking and drugging -- and I still miss the absorption into those activities that pot gave me. But I don't miss the paranoia one little bit, it's a worthwhile trade for sure. If I were to decide to do any of all that again it'd be mushrooms, but I don't see that happening, not for me, I did plenty, young, so I think I'm set now.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:08 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

nothing wrong with giving it a break when it stops working for you. + cleaning up and going sober almost feels like being high for a year solid or something (when you're going from constant use for years on end anyway to having a clear head and your motivation back in full force, etc)

other strategies that have made smoking fun again for me in the past have been cutting back to once a week, or giving it a rest for 1-6 months. but again, much as i love a smoke, and like to recommend to all-and-sundry it as the most harmless and healthiest of drugs - if it's not fun anymore, why are you doing it?
posted by messiahwannabe at 2:55 AM on July 24, 2011

The more important thing here is, why would you want to smoke? Who are the people around you who are still doing this thing - which makes you feel paranoid and negative - that you want to join in with?

There's plenty of interesting things to do without getting high. In fact, you might find it more relaxing to do something like a hobby than getting all twitchy and depressed. If you're trying to recreate a state where you are happy and relaxed, the best way to do that is to avoid things that make you down. Just because other people are still smoking dope doesn't mean you have to.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:43 AM on July 24, 2011

Consider set and setting; most importantly your mental setting. Edibles would be a very bad idea in my opinion, hash and kief in small amounts shouldn't be any more problematic than weed.

Are you worrying about things you should be attending to? Is your life rather complicated and difficult to enjoy lately? I get anxious and introspective when I'm depressed and smoke, especially sativas. I'm bi-polar and my manic side thrives on pot. I use sativa strains during the day so that I don't pass out and become useless, and then use indicas (100%) at night to calm down and fall asleep. The indicas have more an anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic effect (as does schwag, due to higher concentrations of CBD from rough treatment of the product) whereas the sativas are more pro-paranoid, pro-anxiety if your mood isn't right (if your mood is right then the racing thoughts and hallucinogenic-like effects aren't bad at all).

I'm normally a daily 1-3X smoker but when I'm depressed I just lay off and keep it to a minimum, here and there on the weekends. Work on the other stuff that's bothering you and get into "mastery activities" like playing the piano or woodworking; something you enjoy and are good at and let pot take a backseat for awhile. Don't make a big issue out of it and don't drink too much to make up for it.
posted by lordaych at 4:22 AM on July 24, 2011

This always happens to me when I'm depressed or stressed about life issues. I recognize it for what it is, stop smoking and wait it out. Usually in bed in the dark. OTOH it allows you to realize that things are off and it's time to take stock.

Lay off the smoke for a few days and take care of business.

Good luck.
posted by Splunge at 12:57 PM on July 24, 2011

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