Daily marijuana smoker looking to quit after years
September 29, 2020 12:22 PM   Subscribe

For health and career reasons, I may need to get off weed. I've used it to self medicate at night for years. Details inside

I have been self medicating with marijuana for a couple of years now. I have OCD and it has been the only way to calm my thoughts at night. I am on medication and go to therapy. Both my mental health docs know. I live a "normal" life. I have a girlfriend, I exercise, I have a good job (that doesn't care about marijuana). I am just a nighttime at-home user. It went from an as needed option to every night. The thought of not having it make me very anxious. I smoke flower. I use a bong and a pipe. Despite how much attention medicinal cannabis has been getting in the last few years, I've always been worried about the health implications.

It was enjoyable at, but I've started to get so brain dead that I forget why I walked into a room after just a hit. I just want something to calm me down, not make it so that my mind won't function. I cannot concentrate on books or tv or even conversations. I was considering looking into low THC options. CBD has never really helped me. The THC stops the endless anxious thoughts. I wish that I could have the calmness and the mellowness while not sacrificing mental acuity.

As I've gone up on my new medication, I've started to feel strange when smoking. Both of my mental health team thinks that I should try and quit, or at least really cut back. All of this made me want to quit, but I've so nervous and addicted. Time moves so slow and I feel everything when I'm sober. I can do it, but it is excruciating. I've now gotten a career opportunity that may require me to stop smoking too.

1) If I get offered this job, I assume that I will need to take a drug test. I believe that it will take over a month for everything to be out of my system. I don't know if there is a way to expedite that. I'd prefer to taper down so as to not have bad withdrawal symptoms. I live in NYC. Does anyone care about weed anymore? It is an outside sales position. Do most places test for marijuana? Urine? Hair? They want to interview soon, so that may be an issue
2) Is there a recommended way to quit/taper? I used to have a high tolerance, but now 1 hit does me in. Is there a way to mitigate the unpleasantness of stopping. I am aware that it is going to be challenging, I just want to limit the physiological unpleasantness.
3) How long does it take your body to "normalize?"

Any other "Success stories", tips or words of encouragement would also be appreciated. My hope is that I won't have to quit, but I'm not sure that is realistic

Am I missing anything? Anything else that I should know? Think about?

Is there anyway to get a health exception in NYC/NYS?

Thank you
posted by Alvin80 to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I wasn’t using quite as much as you describe but still quite a bit, and for similar reasons. One thing that helped me is treating myself to some really good tea or hot chocolate or ice cream before bed. Since quitting weed doesn’t necessarily give you severe physical withdrawal symptoms (the symptoms you’re experiencing are absolutely real I am not discounting them just saying that quitting weed isn’t the same as quitting heroin or the like in terms of experiencing debilitating nausea, muscle aches, etc.) for me the key was establishing a new routine that didn’t include weed but DID include something indulgent that wouldn’t show up on a drug test.

With regards to the drug test—unfortunately almost any amount that you intake will show up. Especially on a hair test. So if you taper off, the last day that you smoke will still be seen as a day you smoked even if it’s just a little. If that makes sense. To ease your mind, you can take an at home test (available at many drugstores) and make sure you get a negative result before you show up for the employee test. If they even give you one. If you have a medical card they might give you a pass on weed anyway, depending on the job.

You can do this.
posted by leafmealone at 12:43 PM on September 29, 2020

I can't imagine that a sales position in NYC would give a damn about weed, but without knowing specifics about the industry I can't really say for sure.

The time to get clean matters a lot on personal physiology and consumption. The last time I had to get clean for a whiz quiz it only took me 5 days to piss clean (daily after-work smoker of a low-moderate level). I also know of a guy that took 6 weeks (albeit a much heavier smoker). Get some test strips from the internet (Amazon sells em) and just test yourself every morning. Give a few extra days of buffer before taking the real deal and you should be good.

As for the brain fog you describe, where do you get your stuff from, do you know the strain, whether it is indica vs sativa? I've definitely gotten some schwag in the past that made me feel dumb and absent-minded regardless of intake level. This may just be a quality-control issue, or maybe just a personal preference issue. Some strains just hit some people different. The best part about being able to buy in states where it it legal IMO is the ability to know exactly what you are going to get and if you like something in particular being able to consistently get what you want.
posted by dudemanlives at 1:02 PM on September 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

As for urine vs hair, I've only known 2 people to be hair-tested, one was for a high level security clearance and the other was going to work for a major company's R&D division where they would have access to trade secrets.
posted by dudemanlives at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2020

I'm not sure what your exercise routine is like now, but if you ramp up a bit on physical exertion, there's a good chance it'll help you get clean sooner. I ate a TON of vegetables and healthy foods, hydrated enthusastically, and made sure to get physically active daily, and tested clean via urine test 3 weeks after my last use. (I might've been clear sooner, but didn't check.)

I don't have much advice for your other questions but if you quit completely, I'd expect a solid week or so of mood swings and (maybe) poor sleep as your brain begins to re-regulate. But it's surmountable and you may find other things that help. (Chamomile tea, especially with honey in it, is a great go-to for me when I want to wind down.)
posted by saramour at 1:33 PM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I never had success trying to taper off.....there was always a reason why it was OK to smoke up if I wanted to, you know? I just had to stop totally when I stopped. And that has the virtue of being very simple (should I smoke this bowl? No. How about that joint? No!), and getting it over with. ymmv.

How long does it take your body to "normalize"? Well, that depends on factors like your body fat, how much/how long you used, and probably others. It takes months if you were a long-term heavy user. Probably have trouble sleeping for up to about a month. Depression is possible, as you are suddenly depriving your brain of stuff it relied on to feel good. I found that a lot of unpleasant memories came to the surface. If you use cannabis heavily long enough, your body's natural production of endocannabinoids becomes somewhat suppressed, and it takes a while to come back. That can make you feel kind of poorly in general, fatigued like you have a cold.

I don't mean to scare you - if you have been a regular user for just a couple of years, it probably won't be too bad. If you can really form a strong belief that this is the right thing to do for yourself, it helps a lot with getting through the
difficult or unpleasant aspects of new sobriety. Also a strong belief that those things will not last very long.
posted by thelonius at 2:20 PM on September 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Seconding that tapering really won’t work for habitual users, and “withdrawal” is usually a period of irritability and disrupted sleep rhythms and possibly a depressed mood for me and many others, but it is temporary (or reverts to whatever you were treating with cannabis) fairly quickly, dependent on how long and heavily you used it. Many, many heads like to take occasional “vacations” from it by choice, just to check on with their non-stoned selves or to reset the effects of the drug on them. Many more are forced by circumstances to quit cold turkey for periods of a few days to a few months. It’s really not “addictive” for most people in the sense that you physically crave it to the point that it overrides will power or induces physical discomfort. So what you should do is quit cold turkey until you clear the new job intake. If it’s a job that tests regularly you’ll have done the hard part. If not you can resume having checked in on your dependence (what you really contend with, could live without it, don’t want to).

But you should allow more than 30 days of you’ve been a daily smoker for a while. Like double that. And get a real short haircut.

By the way, the science on the health risks, which I follow, is problematically insufficient due to stupid. But what there is suggests that smoking flower is by no means even close to a comparable risk to smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. In part that’s because even a heavy user inhales much less smoke than a tobacco user, not to mention many chemicals added to commercial tobacco. It has very low associated risks of the things you might think of as sequellae of “smoking.” Not normal, and the risks aren’t nearly fully known. But if it works for you as medicine there are many ways to consume it without burning it. Ironically one of those has been associated with the biggest health crisis ever attributed to cannabis (the vape panic of 2019). Vaporizing flower is probably negligibly risky in physical terms, and likewise consuming edibles made from non-solvent concentrates. (Solvent-derived concentrates give me serious pause unless you have extremely good info on the provenance and skill of the producer).

There are also health benefits — besides mental ones — associated (still mostly speculatively) with cannabis use, although dose delivery and dependency effects are almost entirely speculative) but as with coffee and butter and even an occasional glass of wine, the relevant question is “Unhealthy compared to what?”
posted by spitbull at 3:25 PM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was in the same boat during a job hunt. Don't taper, just pull the plug. The goal is pissing clean; tapering isn't going to really help that, and you're going to be grumpy anyway, so don't prolong it. If you've ever had to quit coffee, its honestly kind of the same. You're gonna be a grump for a week, and then you're going to be fine. Get some extra outside time, take some extra walks.

Test kits from amazon or your local drug stores (completely sold out here, so just know you're not alone) are accurate to what you'll be using. No one's gonna be grabbing your hair unless you're going for a security clearance job.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:48 PM on September 29, 2020

I've written about test kits before (I used to work with them), and 1) you will most likely be asked for a urine test, which 2) is notoriously fallible and subject to error so 3) I always advise people to not worry about it because, if your test comes back positive, no matter what you should incredulously say "wow that is impossible and you need to retest me or disregard those results". The entire process buys you plenty of time to get it out of your system (and feel free to repeat as needed).

The hardest thing for me about stopping weed is the routine. Check out the book "Atomic Habits" if you're interested in some generally easy to implement strategies for replacing your bedtime smoke routine with another routine of your choosing. If you're in therapy, ask your therapist about ACT or CBT-informed practices of anxiety management. Anxiety is a thing that happens to humans, it doesn't always have to be suppressed or dulled or avoided—there are skill practices that you can adopt and tinker with to get more acquainted with how it ebbs and flows while you go about your daily life. It's been pretty effective for me!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:40 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

« Older Can't find the right size furnace filter. What now...   |   GEMM and the holograms Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments