A first-person addiction story shared anonymously to Stacie Byrne, CYMHSU local action team lead.
I started smoking cannabis when I was in high school.
I was at a house party and that’s what the cool kids were doing.
I also didn’t really like beer or other alcoholic beverages at the time so it seemed natural to be smoking instead.
Afterwards, I was smoking occasionally with friends. At that point, it didn’t affect me or at least that’s what I thought however I started to be described as a stoner.
I only wanted to be around other smokers or people who approved of that behaviour.
It went as far as me thinking that I shouldn’t go out with a guy that didn’t smoke. I didn’t want to be judged or asked to quit.
I was like: “This is a part of who I am and this is what I do.”
In college, I started to smoke by myself multiples times a week.
It became a reward. I would do my homework and then allow myself to smoke a joint for my ”hard work.”
I was actually stressed about school. I felt very insecure about the future and anxious.
I was smoking so I wouldn’t have to think about these things. It felt like cannabis made me more relaxed.
At the time, I didn’t think it was abnormal since I surrounded myself with people who were smoking more or just as much as I did.
I thought it was ”harmless” and I didn’t notice changes.
I was a lot less active than during my high school years and I started to gain weight.
It slowly became that endless circle of stress, smoke weed, get unmotivated and eat a bunch of crap (thanks munchies) and start all over again.
I started to smoke almost everyday when I moved from Quebec to B.C. It was a nice change but it was also difficult to face so much uncertainty all at once.
It got worse in the winter, I got injured on the ski hill. I couldn’t snowboard for months and I was unhappy at work.
At that point, I was smoking everyday and multiples times a day on the weekend.
I was sad and bored and trying to numb my pain.
Smoking cannabis seemed like the right thing to do in order to feel happy or, to be honest, to feel nothing at all.
I guess that’s when I finally realized I had a problem.
I tried to stop a few times after realizing this and seeing my mother so worried but I was unsuccessful.
I started smoking again even after my boyfriend stopped with me.
I was always so stressed out between work and moving every six months to and from Revelstoke.
Every time I stopped and started again, I would tell myself: “I’ve been so good for so long what’s the harm in a few puffs here and there. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna start again.”
I finally realized slowly that I had a bigger issue than I thought.
You say to yourself: “I don’t have a problem. I can stop whenever I want.” But you don’t.
I think you should actually try and see how you feel and where it brings you.
By not achieving my objective, I started to feel powerless and guilty.
If I couldn’t do something like that then how exactly was I suppose to deal with bigger more important issues?
It’s in the last year that I‘ve realized how much smoking had an impact on me and the vision I had of myself.
Smoking wasn’t as great as I thought it was. It was a bad habit.
I’m not saying I am against drugs, but whenever your well-being is affected and it becomes an obsession or you feel like you need it to make yourself feel better, you are probably dealing with a drug addiction.
When I was angry, sad or even happy I was always thinking: “Oh I’ll feel way better after I smoke this.”
The reality is much different. My problems and emotions didn’t magically disappear.
What’s upsetting is going to keep being upsetting if you just escape instead of dealing with it.
There wasn’t one specific thing or event that made me quit for good.
It was more like a constant feeling of not being well, being unmotivated and not feeling at my best for so many years.
I quit cold turkey. It can be harder than you think especially with the government making it so available and accepted now.
I’m the kind of person that’s all or nothing, so I think cold turkey was actually appropriate for me but it might not be for everyone.
When I quit, I made sure to reach for tools to help me stay focused. I downloaded an app called Quit Cannabis to keep track of my progress.
For the free version of the app which was plenty for me, I could see how many days it had been since I quit smoking, how many joints I avoided, and how much money I saved.
I could go days without thinking about it and then look at it to see my progress and be reminded that I was on the right track.
Now, I have time to do things that ask for my full attention or motivation, like reading or exercising.
It’s important to stay focused on the changes you want to make but it’s okay if it’s not all happening right away and the way you planned it.
I failed a few times before and there’s still a few things that are difficult for me and are triggering the urge to smoke.
For the smell I try to think of it as something that won’t do me any good.
For the people on TV I remind myself that’s TV.
For people that were smoking with me or are still smoking around me, I communicate.
If they still have the urge to smoke beside me, I’ll go a few metres away and upwind.
For stress and anxiety, I talk to myself and look how far I’ve come and know now that a joint won’t change the way I feel and a few puffs do matter.
I’ll have to deal with these emotions at some point so better find another way that isn’t harming my body or my mind.
To share your story with Stacie Byrne at the CYMHSU go to revelstokecymhsu.wordpress.com/revy-lets-talk