This is advice for those of you who WANT to give up; are DETERMINED to give up and BELIEVE you can give-up and is aimed at long-term, heavy smokers or regular smokers who believe they have developed a dependency on cannabis.
This is intended for cannabis smokers, but could be modified for bongers & eaters.
>>First steps: Time period of 1-1.5 months
(1) Start cutting down.
*Assess how much you smoke and construct a plan of cutting down. Long-term, heavy smokers- cut down by a 1/4 of your usual amount for 2 weeks, then 1/2- 2 weeks; 1/2- two weeks (finish)= give up completely. Regular smokers could do the cut-down in 3- 4 weeks, by cutting to a 1/4- 1 week, 1/2- 1 week, 1/4- 1 or 2 weeks= give- up completely.
(2) Assess reasons for smoking.
*Assess your smoking habits. Is it a peer activity (i.e; with friends)? Is is self-medication? Do you smoke more when stressed/ bored/ unfocused / upset? Write down your smoking habits to find triggers to wanting to smoke more or smoke more regularly.
*Also assess the 'core reason' (peer pressure; lack of effect of other medications for an illness; emotional reasons; drug properties, i.e; "the much-rated high", etc).
(3) Start changing your perception of weed.
*If you want to give up, it's because you believe that smoking weed is having a negative effect on you. List the ways in which your life has changed for the worse. Some questions you could ask yourself: are you less social or having social anxiety attacks? Are you feeling unessarily paranoid and anxious for no reason? Have you lost friends or are scared to make new friends because of your habit? Has your habit effected close family members and friends? Has it impacted on your finances- could that weed money have been better spent? Has it impacted on your health: sleeping patterns, energy levels, eating & exercise habits? What are your moods like when you (a) can't afford to get it or (b) are having a problem with your dealer?
*Then look at the solution to the negative points: giving up and staying off cannabis.
(4) Next you provide and organise incentives and strategies for your eventual giving-up:
*Financial= Incentive-Work out how much you would save if you gave up for 1 month, 3 months, then 6 months and list alternative things you could buy/bills you could pay off with that amount of money. Look at it from a materialistic point- how could that money improve your life more than weed? Strategy- It also helps to organise a financial diary and get your finances in order before you stop smoking. When you do quit, a stressor and incentive to start smoking again can be financial worries. Getting them in some coherable order helps, so that you don't have an unexpected anxiety attack due to a forgotten direct debit....and want to a big fat bifta to calm your nerves & stop your head hurting!
*Social=Incentive- support, self-confidence, possibly new friends, self-esteem and a sense of being part of 'something, other than 'Stonedville'. Think about how you can spend the time you spend smoking. Strategy- organise activities that you could take part in (local charity; over-time at work; helping out/ spending time with family members/friends); join an organisation you have an interest in & do volunteer work.
*Physical Health= Incentives (mid to long term after giving-up)- clearer skin, healthier lungs, increased energy, stable sleep patterns, increased interest in physical activities, balanced eating habits, increased libido, increased motor-skills ability and co-ordination. Strategies: planning short term goals for physical changes in your routine. Take part in a sport that encourages goals or competition- you are more likely to stick at a sport if it it has a quick pairing of 'effort & reward'. Reaching goals or being engaged in a competition releases endorphins (happy brain chemicals), that is more likely to get you 'hooked'. Stay realistic with your diet and change it over time- incorporate healthy brain & body foods; oily fish & nuts, fresh fruit & veg, water- but don't deprive yourself of your favourite things. Try and eat little and often- stomach 'issues' are a problem with long-term, heavy cannabis use, so changes in your diet may be necessary to control the constipation, diarrhea & lack of appertite that comes with giving-up.
*Mental Health= Incentives (mid-term to long term after giving up)- clearer thoughts, reasoning & problem solving abilities; emotional stability & no moodiness when running out/can't afford weed; less panic attacks; less paranoia & negative self-concepts; more appropriate emotions (angry when you should be, instead of too laid back & laid back when you should be & not pissed off because you've got a bifta at home waiting!). Strategies- the strategies for mental health are little more complicated. There are a number of methods and some cannabis dependents might choose to go to their GP who may well prescribe anti-depressants for a short-time while giving-up. This is always an option, if you feel unable to give up without medication. However, anti-depressants have their pit-falls too and some cannabis dependents prefer to give up without the aid of anti-depressants and eventually, having to withdraw from another dependency. If you would prefer to abstain this way- carry on reading. The CB strategies (cognitive- behavioural) help when feeling the negative effects of giving-up and enable you to stabilise your moods and recognise when you might want to relapse and smoke again. It's always to good to plan ahead & write up your personal list of strategies for when you might feel like a smoke.
~ In the first month to month and a half: start cutting down and give yourself set time limits on amounts-plan for your giving-up date and organise yourself in the run up to it. Don't plan your giving- up for in the middle of a stressful time, for example, in the middle of an exam period or when you know you will be worried about an upcoming event. Yet use a significant event to be 'clean' by, for example, a birthday or a special event and pick another one for after that event (in order to stay off it). If you want to give up and you don't have a 'special day' to aim for- use a 1, 3 and/or 6 month celebration target, where you treat yourself to something special. Plan all these ahead of time, so when your head starts to deal with the urges & justifications- you have your back-up reason for staying off cannabis.
>>Second Steps: Immediately after giving-up to between 3 & 6 months (depending on individual)
For each individual, cannabis dependency is different. The reason I've stated the time limit as 'immediately after stopping to 3 & 6 months' is because a number of factors have to be considered: how much was smoked and what grade it was, personal reasons for heavy smoking & possible relapses, reasons for quitting and strength of determination to quit.
=Some long-term users experience the physical effects of withdrawal for around 3-4 weeks after giving up; some for as long as 2 months. These include; stomach and bowel problems, disturbed sleep patterns, light sleeping & insomnia; increased sweating; appertite problems; lack of energy & restlessness at the same time; headaches.
=Some long-term users also experience the mental effects of withdrawal. However, time limits for individuals can be hard to establish and is dependent on a number of factors (for ex; history of mental health problems- self & family, lifestyle & core reasons for dependency). The negative mental effects might include: paranoia & negative thoughts about the self and others; anger and feeling aggressive and upset for no/small reasons; inability to focus on one task at a time; impaired short-term memory; anxiety attacks and mind-blank while having a conversation.
Giving up for good.....
*Start practicing the strategies that you had planned while cutting down. >>Some strategy ideas (a) keep a log of how much you have saved by not smoking. (b) Reward yourself for milestones (1st week, 2 weeks & 1st month, to start). (c) Start the physical changes- increase time spent on a sport; pay more attention to cooking healthier food/ coooking your own food. (d) Keep organised and keep to a sleeping and daytime schedule- despite having difficulty sleeping at 1st, be persistant with a sleeping routine and after a couple of months, your body will have adapted. Keeping organised to ensure that you fill your regular smoking times with something unconnected to your past habit, plus if you can control certain stressors, you are less likely to relapse.
*Start observing and keeping a check on your mental health & behaviour connected to your thoughts >>> If you feel a depression (D) or anxiety attack (AA); feel extremes in emotions or are unable to focus on tasks due to stopping, develop your own set of techniques. These can include strategies such as: (a) deep & regular breathing (for anger moments &, AA) (b) controlled relaxation sessions through meditation, aromatherapy, massage, etc (D & AA) (c) talking/writing therapy: a cheap way- reach out for a friend, The Samaritans, messageboards, keep a journal/diary/blog of thoughts & moments where you feel unable to cope with abstinence (D). (d) Forward focus- in AA; caught in the moment, attempt to bring yourself away from the situation (toilet, outside for a ciggarette) and work through a cognitive problem (maths equation, shopping list) until the physical effects have calmed, then run through a positive mental statement. For D- keep remembering to look at how far you've come and understand that only you can change the way you look at your life. Practicing positive statements, keeping charts of small goals & giving yourself rewards for 'good days', while acknowledging 'bad days' as simply a small hitch may work. For that moment when you're about to call your supplier- have a look at what events got you to that point? how can you deal with the consequences of them without being stoned? You can deal with them without using cannabis, but whether you choose to is in your hands. Choosing to deal with a problem without smoking can be tough- but this is where you need to focus on the longer term goals and keep in mind that your feelings will change quite quickly if you take some 'time out' with trying to deal with a problem.
*Stop justifying your past habit >>>> Some Justifications and Their Answers. Some statements from long-term users include: "It doesn't do any me harm and I'm not addicted- I can quit when I want" (But it will eventually and if you're not addicted, then why are you still smoking it? Surely Life should be a high on it's own?). "I smoke it cos I enjoy it" (Do you also enjoy the panic attacks, higher risk of lung & oral cancer because of the tabacco, short term memory loss and waste of money?) "But while I've been smoking it, I've done [insert achievements while stoned]" (But think of what you could of achieved while NOT stoned, if you could achieve all that while stoned- it may have been greater). "I have an addictive personality" (Personality changes with age and experience- it's mutable, plus habits (which lead to dependencies) are a behaviour- not part of the personality and they can be broken as well as formed. This is not justification- it's BS.)
*You have to choose to give-up cannabis and stick to your decission. If you have been dependent on a substance, whether it's a hard drug or recreational drug, you will never be a casual user. With addiction & dependency, it's an all or nothing situation and by using 'a little', you could spiral in to 'a lot'. From the point of giving up, you have to practice saying NO to yourself and others.
*If you slip, move on. Don't dwell on it & don't punish yourself for it. Start the next day with your previous plans and strategies in place & mark the previous day off as 'bad day'.
*You and only you have the power to change your situation. You are not a bystander in your own life and can make the changes necessary to make it better. You also have the power to change how you think, what you feel and how others see you. It's up to you to apply the effort, determination and will-power.
---For those of you who have got this far, you must be determined, so good luck and let me know how you get on----
hank you so very much Violet! I can tell by your writing you have overcome your own addiction to weed. Tonight is... was my/our final joint. It is time. You have givin me a more meaningful want and deeper determination and after reading your words I now truly believe I can. I have bookmarked this page and will refer to it often and also posted it to facebook to help others. SINCERE THANKS!!!
cold turkey quitter, i've been smoking for the last 6 years of my life, heavily, 3-4 years ago i once quit for around 6 months, it was so easy since i had less problems and way more self confidence, then i gradually started smoking again for fun, casually, then troubles came, life got harder and harder so the fun started to be the remedy (big mistake i already knew, never use escapism) so i denied my ways, rules, and experience, i have a very strong will but it needs to be charged, for example it's my 3rd year since my diet is near perfection and i cook my meals sometimes, but since i'm overwhelmed lately i developed character issues, mental turbulence, emotional instability, neediness and jealousy got the best of me, my job and financial situation are so complicated, i've always been a *stand tall* person, now i'm wounded, it's not just about cannabis, i know i'm mixing everything up, but i think i need to get it out..
so now i decided to quit again, although i'm in deep sh*t, i went off completely for 25 days, although i had 1 joint at disposal, and in my personal bag so i saw it daily but i don't care, day 26th i smoked it because, because nothing, i smoked it bcz i was so down and it was a mistake, no excuses, i guess by now it's obvious that my issue isn't mostly addiction, i have strong will, i will do this, i'm just so wounded from life overall, and i don't want things to accumulate negatively, so i need to cut off bad habits, cannabis you're one them.
hi violet ive read wot u said,im a heavy user hav been since i was 11,im now 45,and smoked every day,ive gone from smoking an 8th ov skunk a day,to 1 joint ov hash a day,its been 4 days,and i feel like im going mad,i cant stop crying,it seems silly,but u have shown me that it is possible to live without weed,i feel so ashamed that ive allowed myself to be controled by weed all my life,my life is good,but its gona be so better,thank u,its good 2 no im not the only 1 going thro this,im not gona be a bystander in my life,im gone own it from now on.thank u so much,