Wants to stop smoking pot

Originally Published: October 22, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: May 3, 2013
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Dear Alice,

I have been doing weed for about six months now and on occasion a few other drugs. I usually do it only on average three times a week and a lot more on the weekends. I feel that it is ruining my life because my concentration is terrible and my marks have dropped significantly (20 points). I feel like I'm in a dream all the time and it just isn't fun anymore. I have heard that pot is not addictive but I have tried to stop but I feel sick and irritable if I don't smoke up. I have realized I need to quit but I can't. Why can't I stop if this "soft drug" is not addictive? Am I crazy? Please help. I want my life back. Thank you so much.

—Permafried

Dear Permafried,

Current research tells a conflicting story about marijuana and addiction. On the one hand, pot does not appear to cause physical dependence or any of the severe physical withdrawal symptoms associated with other drugs, like cocaine or heroin. However, it may cause a psychological dependence, characterized by a sense of needing the drug, and the sensations it produces, in order to function "normally." In this case, the feelings you describe could be the result of a psychological withdrawal.

You said that you felt sick and irritable if you don't smoke up. These symptoms have definitely been seen before in people using pot heavily, which you are. They can result from the pot alone or from pot that's cut with other substances unknown to you. When trying to cut down or stop smoking, some people feel tired all the time, have headaches and rapid mood changes, and feel depressed or anxious. When some heavy pot users try to stop, they may experience nervousness, insomnia, a loss of appetite and weight loss, chills, tremors, depression, and/or mental confusion.

Over time, heavy users may also note difficulty with short-term memory, impaired abstract thinking, a lack of interest in their usual social activities, and less motivation, some of which it sounds like what you're experiencing. You might want to think about how the other drugs you're taking have affected you physically and mentally as well.

When addicted to a drug, a person usually thinks a lot about getting and using the drug, and will have trouble staying off when attempting to quit, which you mention. One thing to consider is whether you find yourself continuing to use pot despite negative physical, emotional, or social consequences. You might also ponder whether wanting or using pot controls your behavior.

You've mentioned that you find yourself continuing to use marijuana despite the fact that it no longer brings you pleasure. Recognizing this and looking for help quitting are two very important steps — which you've already taken. Talking with a counselor or health care provider might be a next step. There are many professionals who specialize in this area. At Columbia, you can contact Counseling and Psychological Services on the Morningside Campus at 212-854-2878 and ask to speak with one of their alcohol and drug counselors or Student Mental Health at CUMC at 212-305-3400. At Barnard, call the Furman Counseling Center at 212-854-2092 or the Alcohol and Substance Awareness Program (ASAP) at 212-854-2128. There are also many chapters of Marijuana Anonymous, a self-help group modeled after the design of other twelve-step programs. They can be reached at:

Marijuana Anonymous
800.766.6779

You might also want to talk with a trusted friend or family member about how you've been feeling and your need for his or her support. Talking with your dean or an academic advisor about the situation, even without specifics, can help you re-focus on your educational goals and get your studies back on track.

For more information about the nuances of addiction and dependence, check out Feeling "Dope Sick" from Cocaine Use in Alice's Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Drugs archive.

Alice

November 20, 2009

21437
Hello,

I have to agree with the person who responded, marijuana can rule your life if you let it. I remember the only time I wasn’t high was when I was sleeping. I can’t necessarily...

Hello,

I have to agree with the person who responded, marijuana can rule your life if you let it. I remember the only time I wasn’t high was when I was sleeping. I can’t necessarily say marijuana made me loose control and made me slow but it did burn a hole in my wallet. Stopping smoking might be hard at first so just cut back on how much you smoke until you don’t need it anymore. I remember the biggest issue I had was when I couldn’t fall asleep without being high witch led to insomnia.

December 4, 2008

21492
Hello,

I just wanted to share my boyfriend's experience with quitting pot. He used to be a big pothead. Huge addict. He used to smoke several times a day to the point that it disrupted his...

Hello,

I just wanted to share my boyfriend's experience with quitting pot. He used to be a big pothead. Huge addict. He used to smoke several times a day to the point that it disrupted his appetite and he couldn't eat a meal without smoking first. Hundred of dollars went to this activity. I became extremely worried, especially when it became clear that he was using pot to deal with a serious anxiety disorder.

Eventually, I talked with him about his addiction and he agreed to get help. He checked into an outpatient rehab center and in a matter of weeks, he was "clean." Since quitting, he has been so much more focused: went back to school, has a job, has career aspirations, looks and feels happier and healthier. He says that every now and then, he does miss smoking but it definitely helps that he no longer lives with other potheads.

Hope this helps! I'm a major believer in a pot-free life. If my boyfriend can do it, trust me you can too!

October 28, 2008

21294
Dear Alice,

The best way to quit is to not have any pot in your house, or to be around it. If you can stay away from it for a week, when you go back to hang out with your friends you will have a...

Dear Alice,

The best way to quit is to not have any pot in your house, or to be around it. If you can stay away from it for a week, when you go back to hang out with your friends you will have a better perspective and you might say no.

The way I quit was to stop hanging out with my pothead friends and to find something else to keep me busy. Keeping busy is a good way. I quit for a long time but I occasionaly have a smoke with friends. I find it hard to say no when I am in that situation. So I try to avoid those situations. When I hang out with my pothead friends, I try to do it in situations where no one is smoking pot and it works.

Stay away from it, it is easier to say no when you don't have any.

Good luck.

April 30, 2008

21440

Hi,

I am in the exact same situation; I'm a freshman at college and I have actually been using weed very heavily for 1 year along some other drugs during the weekends. I really want to...

Hi,

I am in the exact same situation; I'm a freshman at college and I have actually been using weed very heavily for 1 year along some other drugs during the weekends. I really want to stop but I can't and I feel the same physical symptoms from the withdrawal. After a while I started skipping a lot of classes and ended up being on the verge of suspension, that's when I was advised to go to a counselor. I must admit it's really helping, I am seeing her once a week and we created a plan in order to stpo help me stop smoking and live my life the way I used to. I really advise anyone to go see a professional, the first step is hard but you can only expect good things out of it, worst case scenario you can just scream out your anger like you would with a complete stranger...

January 23, 2008

21391

Hello Permafried,

It's good that you've got to grips with your problem. I used to smoke weed very heavily in highschool but I realized that I just wasn't getting high anymore and I just...

Hello Permafried,

It's good that you've got to grips with your problem. I used to smoke weed very heavily in highschool but I realized that I just wasn't getting high anymore and I just felt horrible and sometimes paranoid a lot of the time. I had to quit. It was a big sacrifice because many of my friends were devoted pot-heads so I had to distance myself from them to a certain extent. But, let me say that when I quit I never felt better. There was just a certain clarity and I had so much more energy to devote to school and sports and life, in general. It took probably a month and during this time I was a VERY irritable person, but I guarantee you it is worth the struggle. Most of my friends who still smoke regularly are, frankly, not doing much with their lives. Many haven't even made it to university.

Having said that, I do know that others are able to perform perfectly fine and still smoke — I think, ultimately, it's a matter of moderation and knowing your boundaries. But from what you say, it would be wise to quit as soon as possible or at least take a break and reappraise your situation. The discipline it takes to quit will make you a stronger person. Good luck.

November 24, 2006

21155
To the original poster,

I was a big pothead for roughly 5 years. I started early in high school and quit around two years after graduating. I have smoked literally 3 - 5 times per day everyday for...

To the original poster,

I was a big pothead for roughly 5 years. I started early in high school and quit around two years after graduating. I have smoked literally 3 - 5 times per day everyday for the last 4+ years.

The decision to quit smoking will be one of the best decisions you will ever make. Not only has it messed up my social life, my grades, my family, and my finances, it has also done a great deal of damage to my brain.

Potheads who say weed is not addictive are those who generally have nothing better to do than smoke weed.

Isn't it interesting that most of the potheads who claim they are not addicted cannot go more than a few days without smoking?

All of my pothead friends claim that pot does no harm to them, yet I have seen how much it affects their lives, both financially and socially.

There are a lot more things that I can speak about on weed, but for the most part, quitting weed only has benefits.

Good luck to you, friend. You will find peace within yourself and not in some herb...