Last weekend I went to a video game party at a friend’s place. About 10 of us were gathered in their living room and kitchen area of their townhouse with all our gaming computers hooked up and blasting so much heat exhaust into the room it was almost like a sauna.
The day before I had purchased some weed since it was 4/20, the stoner holiday, and early on I pulled some out and asked if anyone wanted to smoke. To my chagrin, no one was interested. Even still, I packed my friends pipe, went downstairs, and got stoned by myself.
We played video games for hours and hours. Counterstrike, Chivalry, Tekken, and many others. But as day turned into night I became increasingly tired. I was already fried from the day before since I smoked several joints on 4/20, and then another joint in the morning before the party, and now with all the beers I was drinking and the bowl I had smoked downstairs, I became despondent and drowsy. Eventually all I could think about was going home so I could sleep it off. I was not my usual jovial and energetic self.
At just 10pm I announced that I was leaving. I had plans for the next day so I couldn’t stay the night as I usually did, and the commute back to my place was quite long since part of the subway line was shut down that weekend for upgrades. When I got home I had a cup of tea, relaxed for a bit, and then slept for about 10 hours. Even though I slept so long, I was still fried the next morning.
Why this insistence in smoking weed so much, and so often, even when my friends declined the offer, and even when I have no one else to partake in the ritual with? Why smoke so much to the point where it essentially ruins my ability to even have a good time with my friends?
Well, the answer is simple. It’s because I’m psychologically addicted to weed and have been for over a decade now. It is the one monkey on my back that I just can’t shake. Try as I will, I have not been able to break this addiction. I have thrown away paraphernalia, erased dealers’ numbers, flushed weed down the toilet, and made grand proclamations about quitting many times only to fall off the wagon after a few weeks. Even though I know it’s causing negative life outcomes, preventing me from self-actualizing and reaching my highest potential, I persist in this useless habit. Why?
The root of all addiction is the need to escape some sort of emotional or psychological pain. Every addict has a secret pain. It’s what drives their addiction. People who are happy and fulfilled in their lives generally don’t become drug addicts. There is something missing, something that torments the user into continuing their addiction even though they realize it’s destructive and putting their health at risk. Addiction is a powerful demon with iron hooks to dig deep into your mind and soul.
If you have a longstanding addiction to cannabis as I do, quitting can be exceptionally challenging in a world where weed is becoming socially acceptable and even legalized in many places. Where I live, pot isn’t legal yet but there are many grey market dispensaries around town where anyone can buy from as easily as you go to the beer store for a six-pack. In fact, there is a dispensary down the street from where I live. If I were so inclined, I could walk out the door right now and have a bag of weed in my hand in approximately 10 minutes.
Most people can smoke weed without any problems, but studies have shown that 9% of people who consume cannabis become addicted to it. The likelihood of addiction increases with the age that you begin smoking (the younger you are, the more likely you are to become addicted. I started at age 17), frequency of consumption, methods of consumption, other underlying mental health factors, and socioeconomic status.
I am one of the unlucky few. My battle with this addiction is on my mind every day. Cravings come up and I try to beat them back down. I pass by a dispensary on the bus or on a streetcar and avert my eyes so as not to think about going in there. I am always thinking of how and why and when to quit the habit for good, and what a difference it will make in my life if I could just stay the course.
Most of all I wonder what kind of a person I would be if I didn’t smoke. I wonder where I would be in life if I never even started. Would I be wealthier? Happier? More successful? Would I have a family and a house? Would I be a successful author or musician? Weed famously robs you of your motivation and focus, and it deadens your emotions which are so essential in directing your path through life. It’s safe to say that I would be further ahead in life if I quit this useless habit long ago.
I have come to know what the source of my own pain is, and why I continue to smoke weed. It’s the torment of loneliness that haunts me every day. I smoke to escape the suffering this causes me. Indeed, loneliness is an epidemic in our modern society and young men particularly are vulnerable to it.
The cravings are especially strong at night. It’s when I’m alone at home that I feel it most. I may be reading a book, or writing something, or playing guitar, or watching a movie, but really I wish I had someone to share my time with, that someone would be there for me and make my world feel less small, and less cold. I feel as though something is missing, so I fill the void with drugs again and again. Night after night. Day after day. I am running from my pain. I smoke weed when really what I want is a relationship.
Like any addict I use drugs to escape my suffering, but life is suffering. Life is full of pain and difficulties and hardships and it will beat you down if you let it. To beat my addiction, I must embrace my suffering; allow it to cover me and run through me, and when I’m on the other side I will be much better off.
If my emotions are driving me to find a relationship, then I should go out and find a relationship and not numb myself into a state of apathy with pot. Although I know it’s hard, and I’ll be rejected many times, that’s a necessary form of suffering to endure. I suffer if I live this secret life of drugs, and I suffer in another way if I put myself out there.
Life is suffering. It’s how we respond to our suffering that allows us to give it meaning and grow as individuals. If we endure, we rise through it as better people. That makes all the difference.