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Chronic User-NEED ADVICE - Bryan - Mar 12th 2008

Question:

I am a chronic user of marijuana. Currently I smoke about 1-3 times a day. This may include a blunt (marijuana filled cigar), bowl, bong, or joint. I also smoke cigarettes occasionally. I also binge drink 4-5 times a week. I believe my family is prone to depression because I’ve noticed it in many of my family members. Before I started smoking (9th grade…I’m now 20) I had some self-esteem problems, that eventually lead to depression. Throughout high school, I was actually pretty confident and happy. I had good friends, good times, good band, and good looking girls. College comes around. I started smoking and drinking MUCH more than I did in HS. I go to a school that these things are extremely abundant at and hard to avoid. Now, I’m scared for my own health. In the past 6 months, I’ve had extreme feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and depression. I feel I’m actually getting dumber. Communication has become a real problem because I can’t hold a normal interesting conversation. I end up spacing out and saying something really thick headed. It is an ongoing joke for my friends. I have lost any confidence I may have ever had. My memory has seriously gone to shit. I won’t remember something we were just talking about, not to mention a day or week. I’ve had real problems in relationships because I’ve forgotten many important things. I’ve become extremely anti-social, basically because of the paranoia. I’ve noticed that I’m an extremely awkward person. Sex has also become an issue. In the past 6 months I’ve experienced both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation on numerous occasions. I’ve slacked off in school a lot. I WANT TO STOP. I DON’T ENJOY SMOKING MARIJUANA ANYMORE. PLEASE HELP ME. WILL THESE PROBLEMS GO BACK TO NORMAL IF I COMPLETELY STOP SMOKING?

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Answer:

Yes, if you stop smoking marijuana your thinking and cognitive skills should return to normal. Unless something is physically wrong with you the same holds true for sexaul functioning. That has been the experience I have had with multiple numbers of people who were my patients, and had a similar history and stopped smoking.

There are several points to be made about giving up marijuana and what problems you may face in doing so.

First, you could experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are not as bad as when someone withdraws from heroin but you could experience discomfort as in difficulty sleeping and increased anxiety. These symptoms will pass if you stick with it. A good way to stop smoking marijuana is to do it gradually and not all at once in order to reduce the chances of withdrawal symptoms.

Second, if you were smoking pot to medicate another type of condition such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression or some other emotional difficult, you could find yourself re experiencing a resurgence of some of those symptoms.

Three, that is why I would suggest that you see your Medical Doctor to help you with the withdrawal process and see a psychotherapist who specializes in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Just the added emotional support can help but I want to assure you that quitting is something you can do and I more than a few people in my practice over the years did quit successfully.

Four, assuming that your smoking marijuana and your alcohol use may be related to some other condition such as depression or ADHD, etc, you might consider seeing a therapist for evaluation and possible diagnosis and treatment of that condition. If no such condition exists then you need not go that route.

Finally, one of the problems with marijuana today is that it is much more potent than in the past. It is for this reason that many people report experience paranoid thinking while using and find their thinking clouded and their memory impaired. The result is that chronic use makes these reactions more acute. However, stopping its use is entirely possible and entirely accomplishable(if there is such a word).

Good Luck

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    Hi, I've been using marijuana several times daily for over 20 years. I recently stopped using abruptly during travel abroad for 15 days. I did not experience any problems. If you're taking a break, keep your mind and body occupied and you won't miss it. Fortunately, marijuana is not physically addictive like cigarettes!

  • Eric

    The "fact" that marijuana is more potent now than before is unfounded. Research has shown that marijuana potency did increase in the 70's, but hasn't since.

    See link -

    http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/library/mjfaq1.htm

    Also, scare tactics claiming that marijuana potency has increased are rather irrelevant anyways since marijuana users typically stop smoking when the desired effect is achieved.

  • Anonymous-2

    There is a lot of false data about marijuana side effects and withdrawal. The truth of it is marijuana is bad for your body and bad for your perception of things. If you quit using marijuana and you take a lot of vitamins and start exercising and eating right your body will be exactly what it was before you started smoking it. Furthermore, there is a slight withdrawal from marijuana, which will mostly consist of having cravings for it. It's best to change things especially in the first month. Change your normal routine and don't hang out with other users. If you still find yourself having problems quitting (especially if you are binge drinking) find professional help. There are out-patient programs and in-patient ones, all at different lengths. Here is a link to the most effective one in the world.

    Editor's Note: I've deleted the link which was to a Church of Scientology associated program known as Narconon , which we believe is more like to harm vulnerable people seeking help for addictions than to help them.

  • Allan N Schwartz

    Hi Eric,

    I have no idea where you ever got the idea that there has been no change in the potency of marijuana. Virtually everyone is aware of the fact that there is a huge difference between marijuana sold today and that of 30 years ago. Here, we are in the area of cold, hard fact and not opinion. Further, there is documented research proving without any doubt that chronic use of marijuana during childhood and adolescence has a negative impact on brain development, memory and motivation. Further research has shown that those with a predisposition to depression become depressed with marijuana. Sorry, but you need to learn a lot more about this issue.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • JR

    Just to point out that the link included in the recent post under the title "False Data is to the site of a Narconon "rehabilitation center". If recovery-through-Scientology is ok for you, fair enough but otherwise - approach with caution !

    Best regards,

    JR

  • David

    I just recently watched a documentary about the history of marijuana called "Grass" (narrated by Woody Harrelson). The film talks about the history of marijuana and mentions many of the tactics used by the government to lie to the American people about the effects of marijuana. One example of many is the 1936 propaganda film "Reefer Madness", which blatently shows how the government controls people with the media. Hilarious to watch while high.

    I'm a 26 year old accountant and use weed about two times a week. I never work while high and it doesn't take over my life in any way. Though, obviously, the effects vary from person to person. I have friends who are very active while high. They're optimistic, socialize, go for walks, and do everything that any healthy active person does. Other friends of mine get high and just play video games. But then again I have many friends who just play video games all day and don't smoke marijuana at all. It just depends on the person.

    With that said, I do think it is best for teens to limit their use of marijuana. It can become a habit during those exciting, hormone driven years, even though marijuana is not physically addictive. Teens have enough to focus on without wondering if they're smoking weed too much. That goes for drinking as well. Although, luckily for alcohol, it has the built in "take a break" function - the hangover. One doesn't get hangovers with marijuana, which is why it can be so habit-forming.

    As for the doctor mentioning that weed can be permanently harmful physically to teens, well, how much weed are you talking about? If you're referring to getting high once and a while then that's simply not true. Marijuana is certainly not as harmful as smoking cigarettes or drinking - which many teens do. Also, eating chocolate bars every day, or sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, or skateboarding dangerously, or a billion of other things that teens and adults do can be harmful. Anything in excess is harmful.

    One reason the government hates marijuana so much might be that it's not easy to know if someone is high. Alcohol, on the other hand, is easily identified. Drinking (and smoking cigarettes) causes thousands upon thousands of deaths every year. Marijuana alone has never been documented to cause any deaths. So why is the intoxicating effect of alcohol made legal and weed is not?

    One reason of many is that alcohol can be controlled. If marijuana was legal, it would be difficult for the government to know who was using it and when - which is why the government doesn't like it. Also, for some people, marijuana opens your mind and enables one to think about things they normally might not. The government doesn't want people who think.

    The government loves alcohol though, because it kills brain cells and impairs cognition permanently. People are easier to control if they're stupid. Which is why the U.S. has such a poor schooling system. The government wants us to be dumb so we do what we're told…but that's another topic.

    Eric said - [Also, scare tactics claiming that marijuana potency has increased are rather irrelevant anyways since marijuana users typically stop smoking when the desired effect is achieved.]

    Good one, Eric. I agree. Your statement above makes the doctor's "increased potency of weed as a reason to refrain from getting high" remark look very desperate.

    Peace to all.

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