I Was Addicted To Weed — And It Nearly Ruined My Life

Cannabis itself isn't bad. In fact, it can help many. But misuse of the substance can lead to issues that are rarely discussed.

Breaking free from addition to weed Simol, Devonyu, lechenie-narkomanii | Canva

For years, my identity was defined by cannabis, a miracle plant that I self-medicated with. The only thing I didn’t know was that I would be a slave to it for the coming years. 

I smoked cannabis for the first time when I was 13 years old. As an anxious, angsty, and socially awkward kid, there was nothing quite as exhilarating as inhaling that crackle of a lit joint. It immediately enveloped me in a warm, numbing cocoon of comfort away from all the scary things in the world, like puberty and the impending doom of college down the line.


And as an introvert with anxiety and a fear of loneliness, I’ve always felt that things that excited others filled me with dread. Cannabis helped me push past those feelings, creating a false sense of happiness and allowing me to feel giddy during my time alone rather than bravely facing my feelings. 

RELATED: Why I Smoke Weed Every Single Night Before Bed

For 15 years, I had never stopped being a daily dependent pot user.

My whole personality became "the stoner girl." I smoked before eating and before bedtime. I thought this medicine was healing my mental health and issues like loss of appetite and insomnia, but it started doing the opposite. A few months after my 31st birthday, I started suffering a particularly severe bout of sleeplessness and stomach issues. 


It was 2 a.m., and even after downing a 500mg chocolate bar and chain-smoking multiple joints (something that ordinarily would have sedated me back into a sleepy stupor), I somehow was still awake in bed for hours with racing thoughts, severe nausea, and searing abdominal pain. Four hours of poor sleep later, I woke feeling physically and emotionally exhausted to the point of bursting out in tears.

This plant, which had helped me regulate myself for so many years, had left me in shambles, and I had no idea how to deal with it. What do you do when something that was once your primary source of comfort turns its back on you and starts to ruin your mental health? I started googling the symptoms of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), a cannabis overuse disorder that’s rare but very real and can happen to daily, dependent smokers like myself.

As a result, I made the difficult decision to go cold turkey. Whether it was just a tolerance break or a permanent journey into sobriety, I still don’t know.

My husband had quit a month prior, and he seemed happier than ever. So using him as a source of inspiration, I decided to do the same. 


Suffice it to say, my muse had an easier time with withdrawal than I did. The first four or five days felt like descending into the depths of hell. They were filled with terrible sleep and deep, raw loneliness I had never felt before. Weed was my best friend, and without it, I felt lost. Over a week has passed since then, and I’m not going to lie; there are still moments when I feel hopeless, and they’ve humbled me.

As someone who’s always thrived off alone time after smoking a joint, I’m learning that being by myself can be frightening through this process. Rooms often get too quiet, and being left by myself with my own thoughts can cause a spiral of anxiety and depressive feelings. For the first time in my life, I’m learning how to be alone without being lonely. It involves a lot of romantic comedies, crying, FaceTime calls with my mom, and long, endorphin-boosting runs.

RELATED: I'm An Addict And My Drug Of Choice May Surprise You

Despite these difficulties, my brain and body are slowly learning to return to themselves as before. Most importantly, I’m learning to love myself just as I am and figuring out how to walk through feelings and tough moments while remaining fully present. It’s hard but also a reminder that I can do challenging things and make it out the other side. 


The cold turkey journey, no matter what substance you’re addicted to, might not be the right decision for everyone. You might need meds or therapy (I’ve enrolled in insomnia-specific cognitive behavioral therapy) to give you a leg up, or you might have to wean yourself off slowly. Maybe you just need a tolerance break.

Personally, the most helpful thing on this journey has been replacing my addiction with healthy coping mechanisms like working out or having a cozy bedtime routine with a book and a cup of tea. One day, I might go back to using it recreationally, but as someone with an addictive personality and genetics, it may lead to a slippery slope.

This story might confuse some who don’t see weed as harmful as alcohol or hard drugs. I’ve seen comments on social media belittling cannabis misuse and addiction and while it’s true that it doesn’t have the same physical repercussions, through firsthand experience, I’ve learned that the long-term mental and physical effects can be devastating.

Part of this is due to the super strong strains the post-legalization era has birthed. Back in the days of Woodstock, the average strain was around 10 percent. Personally, I enjoy lower-THC weed. It provides a buzz without being overwhelming and doesn’t cause the terrible withdrawal side effects many of us suffer when we stop consuming it. 


Still, low to mid-THC potency strains can feel impossible to find. Where I live in Canada, most strains seem to cater to high-potency consumers. Without being educated on the entourage effect, terpenes, and cannabinoids, people think that super-strong strains are the only way to achieve the desired high, and it’s created a highly dependent stoner society.

Ask any daily weed smoker if they can fully enjoy the basic things in life without smoking, and many will admit that it feels impossible. Others will admit that their stomach issues, appetite, and nausea have worsened over the years.

For someone like myself who has used the plant to quell my nausea and stomach anxiety, it took quite some time to realize that smoking every day was actually the cause of it — not the remedy.

Beyond the CHS, I’d depleted my brain’s ability to produce normal dopamine and serotonin levels. It wasn’t just unfortunate — it was legitimately dangerous.


Studies show that cannabis withdrawal symptoms can be significantly worse for those with clinical depression in their family, like me. I urge people to start having this conversation with themselves and their loved ones, especially since it’s not taken as seriously as alcohol and other addictions.

RELATED: The Hard Lesson I Learned From Mixing Grief And Cannabis

For over a decade, I brazenly wore an invisible "independent" stamp on my forehead. I took this trait as a sign of strength. But detoxing smashed down those walls and made me feel truly vulnerable for the first time. It made me realize that although I’d been unknowingly pushing others away for years, I needed my people more than ever, which was perfectly okay. 

As difficult as this rollercoaster of sobriety has been and will continue to be, it’s an act of defiance. A pushback against the untrue belief that I would have to float through life buzzed to survive and thrive. Proof that I can live as a confident woman uplifted by her community but still peacefully exist in solitude.


Now, it’s time for the real healing to start. Having the courage to admit that can be terrifying, but it can also help you enact real change in your life and help you feel a little less lonely.

Drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly common.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that approximately 20.3 million people above the age of 12 have suffered from a substance use disorder in the past year. According to SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 2 million people of the same age bracket have suffered from opioid use disorders and 14.8 million from alcohol use disorders.


If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, there are resources to get help.

The process of recovery is not linear, but the first step to getting better is asking for help. For more information, referrals to local treatment facilities and support groups, and relevant links, visit SAMHSA’s website. If you’d like to join a recovery support group, you can locate the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Or you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-799-7233, which is a free 24/7 confidential information service in both English and Spanish. For TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, call 1-800-487-4889.

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Naima Karp is a writer aiming to create empowering and confidence-building content for individuals of all ages who don't have a voice or are not ready to use their own. She covers health topics such as sex, cannabis, and sleep for sites like SPY and Variety.