Ex-Pothead Starts Smoking A Little Pot Again
March 29, 2013 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm a 21 year old ex-pothead (read: addict) who recently embarked on an adventure across the world--and after 2 years of quitting, smoked a few times this month. It's helped with my anxiety and stress (which I suffer from greatly), but is also making me incredibly guilty. Is this okay? When it comes to pot, is it still "once an addict, always an addict"? Do you have any anecdotal experience on this?

Two years ago, I was a different person--incredibly depressed, with absolutely no self esteem, and complete lack of confidence and discipline--I was also addicted to pot.

I became a potsmoker at 16, and only quit when I was 18 after I graduated high school, started university and realized that I couldn't go on like this. I was smoking pot every single day in my university semester to deal with a lot of depression and anxiety from various issues. Self-medicating, I guess.

I quit after my first semester at university. For 2 years, I didn't touch the stuff.

Since then, I've grown and matured, am happier and more confident, have improved my grades/relationships/perspectives/LIFE tremendously. I have changed my life around 180 degrees.

However, I'm currently on a trip abroad where people party party party all the freakin' time. Although in general I've been balanced and healthy about it, I smoked a bit of pot here a few weeks ago. And then, a week later, I had a pot brownie. And then a few days ago, I smoked some weed at a party.

I feel extremely, extremely guilty about this and I wonder if I should. I enjoy the way pot makes me less anxious for days after the use. I feel it calms my crazy extroverted energy. I think moderation is key, and should be key.

But I can't tell my emotions and feelings on this subject very well--they swing like pendulums from POT IS WRONG AND I'M EVIL FOR SMOKING to WTF WHY SO JUDGEMENTAL OF MYSELF and HOLY FUCK, MY PARENTS WILL SKIN MY ALIVE (explains why i'm anony)

What do you think? Have you been through this? I'm smart, mature, and adult enough (I think) to stop myself from having pot interfere in the important things in my life. I'd like to hear some experience from cannabis users who have smoked weed in the past to excess, and then introduce it in moderation to their lives.

Thank you so much. Living away from Mom and Dad and their incredible advice and support (as well as crazy harsh criticism) has been hard for me. It's my first time living and being completely alone. I'd just like your input.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's necessarily bad.

However, what country are you in? Because an amount of weed that would be a slap on the wrist in one country might have pretty severe consequences in another.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:16 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's a difference between substance abuse and substance addiction. Not to, y'know, sing the ask.mefi refrain, but this isn't a bad thing to talk to a therapist about if you have concerns.
posted by curious nu at 3:17 PM on March 29, 2013

Be extremely careful with drug use abroad. Landing in a foreign jail is probably not your idea of a good time.

That said, occasionally partaking is probably ok, but you need to decide in advance what your limits are. For example, no more than twice a month, or you'll use if offered but never buy any of your own, whatever you feel like is a safe limit for you that prevents you from spiraling back toward daily use. If you exceed those limits, quit entirely for a few months. This will help keep it in line with the rest of your life.
posted by zug at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you were an addict, then I suspect that this is a substance that is a problem for you. Let's just say that today, you won't smoke or ingest pot. Then do it again tomorrow.

You don't have to say forever, you just have to do it one day at a time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you are a successful and functioning human being a little pot now and again won't kill you. It's not physically addictive, so as long as you can use responsibly, it's fine.

In my experience, as you move into and through adulthood, your usage will vary depending on availability and the company you keep. As you're now finding, it seems.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

How can you decide you are addicted to something at the age of 18?

If pot does bad things to your life then don't use it. If it doesn't then you shouldn't care.
posted by aychedee at 3:21 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, this: Living away from Mom and Dad and their incredible advice and support (as well as crazy harsh criticism)

Sounds like you've internalized their beliefs and values about drug use and possibly some verbally abusive or unkind behavior. Which could be to blame for a lot of your anxiety, too. Studying about pot, it's history, the history of the underlying legal status, and its effects might help you unpack some of these beliefs and figure out what you believe for yourself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:23 PM on March 29, 2013 [7 favorites]

If you can use responsibly then it's fine. Some people can't, that's all. Pot isn't physically addictive but I know people who became dependent on it to the point where their life was a lazy blue haze... and getting off it had to do with keeping different company and prioritizing other things (like studies and work) rather than with chemical rehab. But those cases had to do with people who were using to the point that they weren't productive in their lives.

Enjoying some pot while on vacation shouldn't interfere with a productive life, as long as you're not getting arrested for it. If you find that pot interferes with a productive life -- prevents you from studying, working, taking care of yourself -- then don't take it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:46 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hi, I'm you. Same issue with smoking for years, eventually quitting cold turkey (it made me suicidal), and then a few years later met a friend who smoked and joined a few times. It's okay. As long as you use moderation. I've found that even if someone offers every other week, and that's pretty moderate, I still say no about half the time, just because I need to feel like I'm in control and won't just say yes because it's there. It makes me feel great if it's the first time in a month or so. More than that, not so much.

So relax. You're fine. Enjoy.
posted by trogdole at 4:38 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

it's really hard to say. "guilty"? depends what you mean by that. could be that you have internalized someone else's values. or it could mean that your own better judgment is trying to reach you. this sounds like a trick answer maybe, but the fact that you don't know which of the two it is makes me inclined to think you shouldn't fuck around with it. if you were addicted to it before, yeah, it's more likely that you'll be addicted it again. that's just kind of the way it works.
posted by facetious at 4:38 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

As has been said, pot isn't physically addictive. But people can get addicted to anything, including necessities of life like food or a good poke. At some point it could be worth trying some pot again, but I don't think a trip abroad is the time to experiment with it. There are too many potential complications. If you do develop a problem, you don't want to do it in a foreign country. Focus on your adventures abroad, and when you get home, see if you still want to smoke some pot now and again.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:39 PM on March 29, 2013

I don't have an answer for you, but I want to gently suggest that pot, in addition to decreasing your anxiety while you're using it, can increase your anxiety when you're not using it. The contrast alone between high and not high will heighten your feelings of anxiety when you're not using it.

You deserve to have less anxiety -- there are many many ways to reduce anxiety.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:48 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

one thing you might want to watch out for is if your pot use exacerbates depression for you. i only did pot 3 times but that 3rd time i got sooooo depressed. i had existing problems with depression but had never been as depressed as when i smoked the pot. no thanks, didn't need that at all.

personally, i think it sounds like you've worked really hard to get your life on track and i wouldn't risk tanking it all over again. exercise is a much healthier way of dealing with anxiety, and depression. hanging out with folks who are more health conscious might be a good idea.
posted by wildflower at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

How can you decide you are addicted to something at the age of 18?

Addiction has no age limits. And most people don't "decide" to become addicted to substances, it happens as a result of other circumstances.

To the OP: if you said you wanted to smoke pot on occasion because it's fun, then great. Fine. But you're self medicating again. You want to smoke because it helps your anxiety. Previously you liked to smoke because it helped your depression.

Don't let pot be a substitute for taking care of your mental health. That's a ticket back to using it the way you don't want to use it. Not to mention that pot can actually exacerbate mental illness. Get professional help with your mental health issues and wait to get back to pot until you're not using it to try to feel normal, you're just using it for fun.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:56 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]

I think you shouldn't feel guilty - smoking pot in and of itself is not a bad thing. You were with friends and enjoying yourself. I also think you shouldn't buy pot, or otherwise finagle a stash for yourself, as this leads to smoking it every day until it's gone (and then you might seek out some more, and find yourself in the cycle of addiction again). Have it only when it's offered to you, and enjoy it as a relaxing treat.

Of course, this is only applicable if you have dealt with the issues for which you were self-medicating. If not, seek help (or a medical marijuana prescription - it is a legitimate medicine for anxiety and many other issues), otherwise you will keep seeking it out or self-medicate in other ways, which might be even more unhealthy. Good luck to you.
posted by goo at 7:14 PM on March 29, 2013

Instead of self-medicating, why don't you talk to a professional about actually medicating your anxiety? There are far more effective treatments for anxiety than pot, including antidepressants and therapy.
posted by walla at 11:21 PM on March 29, 2013

I'm smart, mature, and adult enough (I think) to stop myself from having pot interfere in the important things in my life.

Please forgive me, but is this not something that recovering addicts are prone to tell themselves?

I suspect that a fair number of responses here are tinged by current cultural and political debate regarding marijuana. However, while that is tangentially related i.e. you are risking criminal sanctions by getting high, that isn't the main point. The issue is dependency on a substance. I wonder if people would be advising you to drink up if the substance in question were alcohol, which is perfectly legal.

I have never suffered substance addiction but have been very close with those who have. In my experience, it is a lifelong struggle as all battles with the passions are. None of us is a professional who is qualified to treat your recovery. I recommend that you consult with such a specialist or a recovery group. You recognize that you are self-medicating, so I think that indicates that the risk of marijuana's interference with your life is more likely than you think.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:21 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Part of becoming an adult is the freedom to choose what you do with your body.

If you feel strong enough to do it from time to time without becoming dependent, then you have no reason to feel guilty. How did you feel when you did it (besides the guilt)? Ask yourself if this feels dangerous; deep down I think you must know the answer.

If you've managed to make a 180 in your life since the time you were 18, I'm wondering if maybe some of the anxiety and depression you were feeling was normal teen angst. I was at my most despairing from the ages of 17-23.

If you decide that you don't feel like this endangers you spiritually, there's still the question of it being illegal- (unless you're in amsterdam, obviously!!).
posted by winterportage at 7:54 AM on March 30, 2013

I have known several people who were as addicted to pot as others are to alcohol or other "physically addictive" drugs, and who sought treatment from traditional rehab centers. I would be surprised if any of them, or any addiction specialist, would recommend dabbling in pot again for an addict. I can appreciate the many benefits and pleasures of pot, but if I were you I would not risk it.
posted by walla at 10:14 AM on March 30, 2013

I learned a lot about addiction by watching this video.
posted by telstar at 7:51 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

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