I started using cannabis on a daily basis in early 2010. Before that I was a very casual user and had used at random times since I was 13 years old (parties, special occasions, etc). But as I realized that I could smoke at night, have a great time, and wake up in the morning, not only without a hangover, but also feeling more rested than when I didn’t smoke, I began to use more regularly since it wasn’t bringing anything negative to my life and was definitely adding a lot of positives. Fun times, good laughs, deeper connection and conversations with my wife, less stress, etc.
Today in 2011 I have been using on a daily basis for about 2 years. The only break I’ve taken over the last two years is for a week while visiting family on the east coast during Christmas. Last year I made the journey, wondering if I would feel any sort of withdrawal symptoms. I never had before, but I also had never smoked daily for a year straight, so I didn’t know what to expect. According to the government, I was in for a hard time of:
• Drug craving
• Anger and Irritability
• Loss of appetite
I landed on the east coast and the week passed uneventfully. The first 24 hours without cannabis resulted in a slight headache. That was it. I returned home and began my routine of daily use again, and maintained it until now. Here I sit again on the east coast, and yet again, the only “symptom” I’ve had is the occasional headache which fades quickly, especially if I do some yoga or distract my mind through something as simple as watching TV. I wondered whether maybe one year of daily use wasn’t enough to draw out symptoms, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Despite the fact that over the last year I have increased the frequency and quantity which I smoke, no withdrawal symptoms have found their way into my vacation beyond that headache, which I’d rank at about a three on a scale of 1-5, and which only lasts for a few minutes if I don’t take any action to reduce it via Yoga, etc.
I am only one person, and I am in great physical shape (the best of my life, better than when I was on the starting lineup on offense and defense for my high school football team), and I have a loving family, fantastic wife, and a lot of psychological stability and strength. I’m sure those all help reduce any potential withdrawal symptoms. My guess is that the hardest part of quitting daily cannabis use for most people is the psychological dependence, just like it’s tough to stop daily Starcraft use when you absolutely love it. I entered this week without weed “cold turkey”, and even though I have an edible in my bag which I could take at anytime to get high, I haven’t even thought about it until I started writing this post.
So I’m here to tell you that after daily use for two years (minus that one week I took off during last year’s holidays), the symptoms have been extremely mild and basically no different than if I drank a bunch of soda and neglected water for a day or two. On top of that, I began daily use in 2010 before returning to college, and over the last 2 years I’ve completed 4 semesters and received straight A’s in all of my classes, made the dean’s list, received several scholarships including the most prestigious one awarded by the psychology department (which is my major), taken leadership roles in multiple clubs and established good friendships with about a dozen professors and university administrators. In other words, the daily use, and even heavy daily use of the past year, hasn’t ruined my life. On the contrary, I have no doubt that it has made my life better. My physical health and immune system are at my lifetime peak, my creative thinking and problem solving has improved dramatically, my memory is better than at any time in my life, and my relationships with friends and family are deeper and more fulfilling than I ever knew possible. Cannabis didn’t cause all of these things to happen on its own, but it definitely helped them to be possible, either through the psychological changes it helped produce (reduced stress, creative thinking, open mindedness, empathy, and increased laughter and joy) or through the healing effects it provided, as cannabis has been used as a medicine for over 200 ailments over thousands of years.
The most important lesson I’ve learned about how to use cannabis in a way that improves one’s life is to use responsibly. I often use a vaporizer to protect my lungs from inhaling burnt plant matter, and avoid joints and pipes as much as possible, preferring a water pipe if I don’t vaporize. I don’t get up and smoke a bowl and go to class. I wait till my work for the day is done and then I smoke. But there are tasks I can do very efficiently while high – cleaning the house, watching and learning from TED talks, running basic errands. As tolerance develops and a person moves from acute to chronic use, the effects of cannabis change, and the body and mind learn how to compensate, allowing a chronic user to complete tasks while high that an acute user would find difficult. For example, playing a game of Starcraft. As an acute (occasional) user I had a lot of trouble playing SC2 while high – as a chronic user that difficulty has disappeared. So it’s important to be self aware and disciplined, and to make sure that you are using responsibly, which means that your use doesn’t get in the way of achieving the things you must get done.
There are many myths about cannabis which have been debunked for years, but the mainstream culture hasn’t caught on to the truth yet due to continued government propaganda. I’m writing this post because I hate lies, I hate injustice, and I hate being manipulated or watching others manipulated by corrupt, greedy, or morally zealous people in power. A shift is coming and 75 years of lies are finally starting to crumble. I hope that this post can help push that shift right along.
PS - There is no doubt that some people do have withdrawal symptoms, but that is a small minority of users and only seems to happen to long term heavy users. The vast majority of people will have no withdrawal symptoms or very minor ones like what I experienced. Some people have addictive personalities or are bio-chemically different in a way that makes them susceptible to addiction. Those people should be very careful about what they put in their body.