help a guy out
August 10, 2018 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Weed nerds and daily users I need your help. (Wall of Text Warning)

Feel free to skim the below, I'm only being very specific because I want to head off a lot of stuff like "just stop smoking weed!" and "see a therapist or psychiatrist!" off at the pass. I tried to bold the important stuff.

I am a long term (10 years or so) daily user. At this point I am exclusively vaping extract (wax/shatter/etc.) and on occasion eating edibles. I go through approximately a 1-1.5 grams of extract a month and I don't eat enough edibles for it to be a useful statistic. I don't drink or currently use any other substances or have plans to use any other substances (I do have a history though.) I smoked cigarettes for ten years and quit and haven't had one in maybe five years. I'm on a handful of psych meds and am very good at being compliant and responsible. The vaping is self medication for a variety of things but responsible self medication (see below re: psychiatrist.)

This actually works very well for me, my friends and family have no complaints and even my extremely conservative and diligent psychiatrist of 8 years has laid off lecturing me about this as I've been stable for quite a while and we're both on the same page about the fact that I don't want to up my dosages of any medications. That is, if I can vape some extract for anxiety rather than take an ativan, I'd rather vape. If I can take an ativan and vape rather than two ativans, I'd rather do that, etc. etc.

The issue is that after a few months of daily smoking I start to lose drive and motivation at home and then, here's the kicker, at work. I can't "cut down" by way of arbitrary restrictions, I just don't have that kind of personality. The kind of personality I do have lets me take a month of total abstinence every three months (so three months on, one month off, three months on, one month off) and this has been working pretty well until recently. Also please note when I say "lose motivation" I don't mean I turn into a couch potato. I do my job well, I maintain our home, our pets are healthy, my marriage is in a good place, but it becomes really hard to pursue complex or technical interests that aren't TV/video games, cleaning the house, or cleaning the house with the TV on. It gets hard to even read books. At work I start falling behind and while I always catch up I hate the anxiety of being behind and I hate working late hours to catch up.

I'm doing "detox" (weed abstinence) now, intending to do so until the end of August, and it's harder than it has ever been. I'm having all sorts of awful psychological and physical discomforts, nausea, loss of appetite, just all sorts of withdrawal symptoms. They're not anywhere near the level of alcohol or opiate withdrawal symptoms but they're very unpleasant. Usually the first week of that detox month is really rough, the second week kinda tough and then I'm at a sort of baseline I can stay at indefinitely. If it matters, I have no temptation whatsoever to vape to make it all stop because I know a) I'm not going to instantly feel better and b) I'll feel even worse from the hit to my ego because I kind of pride myself for being Strong in the face of such things.

Maybe it's because my usage has gone up since the last time I did this in April, maybe it's because it is the summer and hot and I usually feel like crap during hot summers already. But anyway it's been pretty awful and I a) don't want to go through something this bad again and b) don't want to stop using weed because of the overwhelming benefits it provides, including not having to take more or higher doses of psychiatric medication (I'm obviously not demonizing psych meds here but if you take them and you're stable you know what I'm talking about not wanting to mess with the balance or god forbid have to go on a different med.)

I use sativa, indica and hybrids although I try to stick to sativas during the day and indicas at night. I have CBD extract that i sprinkle onto the weed extract which has almost totally eliminated any kind of weed-induced paranoia or anxiety. I my best try to exercise and eat well.

What can I do to keep myself from having this very reliable sinking of my motivation? How can I do some sort of analysis to figure out what it is that I'm doing that causes my drive and motivation to just crap out? One thing I was thinking about was giving up hybrids and indicas entirely and sticking to really energetic-y sativas but I'm not sure. I'm unfortunately not a weed nerd by far and I don't live in a legalized state but I do have some variety in what I can purchase.

I'm open to pretty much anything given the caveats at the top of the question.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure that this is the cannabis and not a cyclic pattern with depression? Namely, the inability to concentrate on complex tasks and not engaging with reading sounds like depression to me, especially if it's not a constant while you're using cannabis as part of your treatment plan. Just something to consider and if you're able to reset to your normal by withdrawing from cannabis for a month, it could be a moot point.

You may also consider taking a CBD only (derived from hemp, so no meaningful THC levels) supplement while you go on and off the high-THC cannabis products you're taking. You can get high quality capsules by mail from places like and there are no restrictions on where they can ship because it's not a scheduled compound. It could work to ease the transition and it's an incredibly healthy supplement to take anyway.
posted by quince at 12:13 PM on August 10, 2018 [15 favorites]

The suggestion to consider CBD supplements is not unreasonable, but do note that because it's not a regulated substance there's no way to be sure that you're actually getting the CBD levels the package says you are. Testing of some CBD samples have shown inconsistent amounts of CBD, and some CBD supplements test positive for THC. Since you're a cannabis user that may not be a concern for you, though.
posted by Kpele at 12:24 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Been smoking 20 years. Usually daily, with some breaks to pass drug tests. I'm in CA.

Echoing the above--CBD might help with what you're going through, depending on the quality of it. (The one time I bought a CBD extract from a shop specializing in tobacco, it wasn't very good.)

Once you're done with your "off month"--
Have a plan for what you're going to do after smoking. It really helps.

Maybe once your off month is over, temporarily go back to regular "flower" if you can instead of vaping? I've noticed that sometimes I have to smoke a bowl because my vape pen doesn't get me as high as it has been previously. Tolerance levels and all that. :-)

Sativas are great for getting things done, but sometimes can cause anxiety if you have too much. Depends on the potency of the strain. Hybrids are hit-and-miss sometimes--perhaps you've been getting Indica dominant hybrids?
posted by luckynerd at 1:08 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can you use the weed as your reward for doing the thing? That's what I do; I work from home and go through sometimes an eighth a day and have no plans of stopping ever (legal state woo!). If I'm feeling lazy then I don't let myself smoke until I do whatever thing I need to do and it works really well!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:09 PM on August 10, 2018

Oh! This might be a necessary point of clarification: during workdays I only vape when I get home from work; sometimes immediately, sometimes just before bed, but never before or at work (no judgment! I really miss having the kind of job I could do high but that's 100% not an option unfortunately.)
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 2:24 PM on August 10, 2018

I'm a daily user as well, and I don't have this problem. (I have loss of energy/motivation problems, but they're obviously linked to the condition I take pot *for*, not the pot itself.) The difference is I exclusively use edibles - one dose daily before bed unless I'm unusually pain-free, and possibly a few during the day on non-work days if I'm more-than-usually in pain. Might be worth a shot for you to try switching for a couple months.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:08 PM on August 10, 2018

Do you exercise daily? How is your diet generally? And do you get enough sleep? I ask because I’m a daily user who struggles with similar issues to you, and am fat, crappy diet, crappy sleep. Meanwhile a good friend smokes like a damn fiend and got her phd last year, does sports daily, and sleeps 7-8 hrs a night. She has a professional career and doesn’t seem to have the motivational problems I do. I attribute it to her lifestyle being so healthy. So maybe try exercising daily for a few months and work on your diet and sleep habits and see if that helps.
Also, think about when you’re having trouble concentrating at work and see if there’s a pattern. Is it a certain time of day or a kind of task? Is it when you are frustrated? Etc. Then make a plan for dealing with those times ie take a quick walk, have a coffee, reward yourself for finishing that thing you have trouble completing, etc.

I know pot can intensify laziness but it doesn’t have to turn one into a lazy lump and I agree with your desire to use it over ativan.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 5:00 PM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would also recommend looking at excercize and developing or maintaining other enjoyable, stimulating hobbies (probably not simply TV or video games, but those could work too if you aren’t currently doing that much and have a more active approach to it).
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:14 PM on August 10, 2018

When I was younger my friends and I had a motto "smoke weed and excel!*" We'd make sure that right after getting high we had something we had to do (not social, we weren't that crazy) or planned to do so we could fight the lazy problem and that ended up just carrying over into times where it wasn't the plan? If you get used to doing stuff high, you do more stuff high. Maybe try incorporating that during your on times to see if it helps the issues you take breaks for?

*our other motto, which we had airbrushed on bucket hats complete with flame art at the fair, was "WORK THROUGH IT!" specifically about getting more fucked up when you thought you reached your limit, so maybe all the mottos weren't great life lessons, even if they were important life lessons.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm not anti-cannabis. However, cannabis has been shown to decrease motivation, and you are stating that you would like to have more motivation. Cannabis as a medication is still a medication. Is it worthwhile experimenting and seeing what happens if you stay off cannabis for an extended period of time, even if that means you need to increase your prescribed medications during that time? You seem to be making assumptions about what medications work for you and what they do or how harmful they are without actually having firsthand experience with trying something different.
posted by lazuli at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've known a number of high-achieving chronic users who used ADHD meds to get motivated for their working hours.
posted by Sauce Trough at 7:55 PM on August 10, 2018

It's hard to measure de-motivation. Instead, measure your THC intake very accurately, and keep a daily log of how much you used and how potent it was and what it was.

In the same log, you can ask yourself the question: do I feel more or less motivated than I did yesterday, or do I feel about the same; or better yet, record the activity that you judge to have been the "most motivated" behavior you engaged in. If you notice yourself dropping or skipping entries in the log, count that as de-motivation :-).

If you have a condition that you are controlling with THC, keep track of how serious it is every day. Regarding a condition, a daily note of whether you feel better or worse than the day before can be useful in helping to identify longer term dose-related responses.

A milligram scale costs no more than about 30 bucks from Amazon.

My personal advice is to avoid smoking every day. If you were to smoke on weekends only, 2 days a week, then you'd be actually smoking slightly more than 1 day out of 4, like your one month on, three months off cycle, but certainly developing a lower tolerance to the effects of cannabis than you would if you were smoking continuously. In many people, lower tolerance means lower intake.

Also, 2 days on 5 days off is also a lot easier on you than a month of abstinence after 3 months of daily use. The vivid dreams and sleep disturbance and "mental toothache" symptoms are almost entirely absent.

After you are done abstaining, maybe give weekend use a try. You'll be the best judge of whether you're getting enough.
posted by the Real Dan at 3:39 AM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

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