Content of the material
- Short-Term Effects When You Smoke Weed
- Short-Term Effects on the Body
- Short-Term Effects on the Mind
- Why Reactions to Weed Differ
- Approach 1: Quitting Smoking Weed Gradually (Step by Step)
- 1) Write Down Your Current Weed Intake
- 2) How Much Will You Cut Down?
- 3) Timeline with A Quit Day
- 4) Be Flexible And Patient During Your Schedule
- 5) Coping Skills
- Your Weed-Free Game Plan
- Try New Things
- Eat A Balanced Diet
- Change Your Routines
- Don’t Give Up
- Learn From Your Mistakes. Try Again.
Short-Term Effects When You Smoke Weed
Reactions to using marijuana can vary dramatically, from person to person and from day to day. Some people report not feeling anything at all when they smoke marijuana. In other cases, people report feeling relaxed or “high.”
Short-Term Effects on the Body
The effects of using marijuana can be unpredictable, especially when it is mixed with tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. You may feel relaxed when you smoke weed, but you also may experience unexpected and unpleasant symptoms, such as:
- Accelerated heart rate
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dry mouth
- Loss of coordination
- Swollen eyelids
Short-Term Effects on the Mind
As with any drug or substance that can alter perception, logic, and usual behavior, there are several short-term hazards of using marijuana. These include:
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Difficulty in thinking
- Impaired memory
- Lack of attention and focus
- Learning difficulties
- Poor driving skills
Some people who use marijuana report having sudden feelings of anxiety and paranoid thoughts. This might be caused by using higher-potency marijuana, deliberately or inadvertently.
Research also shows that regular use of marijuana is linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and a loss of motivation or drive. You may feel "dopey" on the drug, which is when you begin to lose interest in activities that you might have previously enjoyed, and/or lose the ability to grasp concepts easily.
Why Reactions to Weed Differ
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that marijuana can affect each person differently according to their own body chemistry and the type of pot used. Some people can use weed and never have any negative reactions, while others may find the experience very unpleasant and unsettling.
Factors that influence how you might respond when you smoke weed include:
- Marijuana strength (amount of active ingredient THC): Studies have found that the marijuana available today is much different in terms of potency compared to what was generally available in the 1960s when the use of the drug became widespread in the United States. Today’s strains of the plant contain much more of the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
- Previous experience with the drug: If you have used marijuana regularly, it may mean that you have developed a tolerance to the substance. This means that it requires more of the drug to produce the same effects that you initially felt.
- How it’s taken: Smoking marijuana produces rapid effects because the substance begins to affect the brain quickly. When ingested, it takes longer to have an effect.
- Whether alcohol or other drugs are taken too: Taking other substances can have an effect on how marijuana impacts your mind and body. Tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs can interact with marijuana to heighten the adverse effects of both substances.
- Your biology (genetic makeup): Genetics as well as other biological factors can affect how a person responds to and metabolizes a substance. Age, hydration levels, body mass, metabolism, sex, and frequency of use may all play a role. For example, women tend to metabolize THC at a somewhat slower rate than men, which may impact how the drug affects them.
Approach 1: Quitting Smoking Weed Gradually (Step by Step)
When you want to quit cannabis with a gradual approach, you should create and stick to a step by step plan.
We have outlined some points you should consider before setting your ultimate quit date.
1) Write Down Your Current Weed Intake
Ask yourself what is your current weed intake? How much are you actually using on an average basis?
For example: If you smoke 1 gram of weed per day and 2 grams on the weekends, write this down.
You will use this information to decide your quit date.
2) How Much Will You Cut Down?
Now that you know how much you smoke, ask yourself what is realistic as a goal for cutting down?
For example: Will you be able to cut down to 0.5 grams of weed a day during the week and 1 gram on the weekends?
Write down the amount you want to cut down gradually. Setting realistic goals is important in this step.
You might be tempted to say you will cut more and end up not doing it.
This negative consequence may harm your confidence in yourself, so it is better to set a realistic goal than to set something impossible.
3) Timeline with A Quit Day
Set out a timeline with a definite quit day.
When you calculate the amount you cut, create a schedule of milestone days.
It is critical that you put your plans to cut back on a specific schedule, otherwise it will be very easy to slip back into using more.
For example: Every 3 days or 5 days, you will decrease the amount you decided from your cannabis consumption.
The day you reduce to zero is the day you choose as your quit day.
Please note that you shouldn’t select your quit day too much farther in the future since you may forget your goal and lose motivation along the way.
When motivation lessens, it will be easy to rationalize with yourself to use more than, for example, the 0.5-gram plan.
Thus, deciding on the intervals between milestone days is crucial.
For the timeline, put the reduction amount on a schedule. For example, the plan in step two will be completed for the next 2 weeks and at that point, you will cut that in half as well.
4) Be Flexible And Patient During Your Schedule
Be flexible and patient with yourself.
For example: If it turns out that cutting 0.5 grams is not realistic, instead of beating yourself up, adjust your goal to cut back to 0.75 grams.
It is okay to go more slowly than you set out.
The hard part is giving yourself the necessary time to adapt to the changes.
5) Coping Skills
Introduce yourself to new ways of regulating your emotions.
You may not realize how much weed may be acting as a coping mechanism until you cut it out.
Look at new ways of coping with stress, feelings of anxiety or depression before reducing use.
Prepare yourself for the reduction by looking into what might work for you. We will elaborate on this more in the following sections.
Your Weed-Free Game Plan
There are many scientifically tried and tested ways to overcome the challenges associated with stopping smoking marijuana and starting your journey towards a weed-free future. The section below works for both quitting cannabis cold turkey or gradually.
Try New Things
Allow yourself to experience new activities that do not centre around smoking marijuana or remind you of it.
Getting off weed might be a good excuse to pick up a new hobby.
Try new physical activities: You may find many exercise videos from yoga to body-weight circuits that do not require much equipment or investment.
Regular exercise also benefits mental health and improves your overall physical and psychological well-being.
It will also decrease the symptoms of anxiety, depression or unhappiness you may experience during cutting back weed.
Try new fun things: From board games to computer games, there are many possibilities out there. You can even turn on the music and learn how to dance with some Youtube dancing tutorials.
Learning how to draw is also another option.
Distracting yourself from the desire to smoke will help you stick to your goals.
Use this time to improve yourself positively so it will increase your motivation to quit smoking marijuana.
Eat A Balanced Diet
Many weed smokers have low appetites and poor diets.
On the one hand, this means that they are less likely to suffer from obesity – as Time Magazine calls it “Marijuana Slims”. On the other hand, this means that giving up your smoking dependency can also result in not returning to a healthy diet.
Some people who are quitting weed find it very difficult to eat without smoking weed. They don’t have an appetite without smoking. If this is the case for you, try to eat mechanically at the beginning. Don’t wait to be hungry. Eat at regular times (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Start with light food and tell yourself that your body will learn to process the food without marijuana.
That’s why it’s especially important to make sure you are maintaining a healthy and balanced diet when giving up your drug dependency.
You should make sure you are eating plenty of healthy food with high-fiber, such as leafy and green veggies. It’s also vital that you stay hydrated. So make sure you drink plenty of water because it is good for your recovery from weed dependency.
Change Your Routines
As mentioned earlier, we become conditioned to want substances based on the environment.
So to continue your progress, change some of your triggering routines.
Example #1: If you normally smoke weed every day with your girlfriend on the balcony at 9 pm…
- Ask her to watch a movie inside with you at that time or
- Request her to not smoke in front of you.
Example #2: If you smoke when you see a certain friend…
- Try to meet with them in places where you cannot smoke or
- Simply refrain yourself from seeing them for a while.
Don’t Give Up
It is normal to have slip-ups.
If you quit cold turkey and have a slip, do not tell yourself that you are incapable – remind yourself this is difficult and work through how the slip happened.
Remember, your cannabis addiction wasn’t developed in one day.
So you may not develop opposite habits in one day as well. And this is totally acceptable.
Identify what led to the relapse and adjust your skills/goals to make sure it does not reoccur.
Learn From Your Mistakes. Try Again
Create a set plan for how you will cope with a desire to relapse.
As we mentioned in the previous section, learn from your mistakes and identify what caused you to relapse.
And according to these triggers and conditions, make a safety plan that you can use instead of returning to weed the next time.
Prepare some answers or action plans for specific situations.
- Practice some polite refusal sentences in case a marijuana user offers you a joint.
- If your friends decide to smoke, plan to take a walk and come back after they finish.
- If you happen to find yourself in a situation that you didn’t think of before, have a supportive friend you can call to help distract you.
Simply engaging a phone call in a social environment would help your mind be absent from the current situation, thus increase your chances not to relapse.
Predetermining different verbal and behavioural responses to different situations strengthen your hand in your recovery journey from marijuana.