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weed is ruining my life

Smoking Too Much Weed Almost Ruined My Life

A.N. Gould
Nov 5, 2014 · 7 min read

O ne of the squarest, most socially alienating things you can say in SF is this: “I was addicted to pot.”

“Bullshit,” people will respond, rolling their eyes. “You can’t get addicted to pot. Cannabinoids, dude. Look it up!”

Drug addiction, according to cool peeps who totally know what’s up, is only legit if it’s in relation to heroin, coke or speed. But marijuana, which cures cancer, alleviates mental illness and keeps you moist, is not a real drug. If you can’t shoot it, it ain’t shit. Give us a call when you’re robbing liquor stores, son.

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But i f pot is to addiction as Iggy Azalea’s rap game is to real, how do you explain my disaster?

In the final three years of my addiction, I was obsessed with weed, spent all my free money on it and panicked when I was out or running low. I lied; I stole; I bogarted. I got high before work, sometimes during.

My story of addiction lacks abscesses and missing teeth. I wasn’t shooting speed in a Tenderloin SRO. I had two jobs and warm amber highlights. My story of addiction also lacks glamour and Lanvin flats. I wasn’t smoking PCP with Cat Marnell on the roof of Le Bain. I was chain-smoking lopsided spliffs by myself on the back porch in greasy pajamas.

In the final three years of my addiction, I was obsessed with weed, spent all my free money on it and panicked when I was out or running low. I lied; I stole; I bogarted. I got high before work, sometimes during. I’d barely leave the house on the weekends, and I’d get so high, I couldn’t find the energy to walk two blocks to the corner store. I’d get so high that sometimes I’d faint.

I was exhausted, miserable and always hungover. I retreated socially from anyone who wasn’t down to get high and felt most safe when I was completely alone, so I could smoke my ass off without judgment and read stupid shit on the Internet. Except I didn’t actually want to get high: I knew my life was a huge fucking mess. I was desperate to quit and be sober, but every time I tried, I failed. I didn’t want to die; I just wanted to disappear into ether.

They say only 10 percent of all users become dependent on marijuana. I am the 10 percent.

But I want to clarify: I believe in the power of marijuana. I no longer buy into the all-pervasive ideology that pot is a purple panacea gifted from the gods — but its medicinal properties cannot be denied. Weed has much better karma than alcohol and unscented bath salts, and I’ve never seen it turn anyone violent. I believe the war on drugs is a crime, and I fully support the legalization of weed, among other drugs. I just know I — me, not talking about you — can’t touch the stuff ever again.

My long-term relationship with pot started in the early ’90s in Santa Cruz, when my college boyfriend passed me the bong as we sat on his frameless futon listening to The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. My earlier attempts at getting high had failed, but on the exhale that one evening — in my big rave pants and plastic beads — my head disconnected from my body in a poof of weightless non-thoughts and non-feelings. It was divine. For the first time in my life, I was home.

They say only 10 percent of all users become dependent on marijuana. I am the 10 percent.

In that initial decade of my life alongside drugs, however, marijuana isn’t the one that sticks out. It was the weakest of the substances in my body at that time, so that in comparison to my mad-raving club-kid weekends of Ecstasy, LSD and bumps of speed or coke, marijuana seemed as innocuous as a cup of herbal tea. It was always present, but I hardly noticed it was there.

My transition to massive stoner in my 30s was a seamless, logical progression. Party drugs dropped off, but it had become apparent I had no ability to regulate my intake of anything — cigarettes, sugar, caffeine and, to a lesser degree, alcohol. Pot, which I viewed as healthier than goji berries and quinoa combined, was the therapeutic overlord of these inferior substances. I was not alone in my marijuana worship; I knew plenty of ex-club kids who graduated from being beautiful, reckless pillheads to mystical marijuana professionals.

But as my life got more adult and more complicated, my relationship with pot intensified. I started self-medicating like a motherfucker, and although I had no doubt my problem was enormous, everywhere I turned I found reason to justify my use, whether it was a medical-cannabis study online, a pro-pot op-ed in the New York Times or yet another blunts-cure-all conversation with another user. For the concerned stoner who suspects he or she is in too deep, there’s never a dearth of outside encouragement to keep on being a loser.

Pot is often described as having an “insidious” effect: cokeheads and junkies bottom out dramatically and earlier on, but problematic potheads can toke hard without an end date because the repercussions are so unremarkable. Superstoners don’t blow out their septum or rot their liver on pot use alone. They don’t have to sell their pussy for a puff on a joint. But the impact of a lifelong existence at my level of huffing cannot possibly end well — it ends not with a bang but with a fizzle.

There must exist high-achieving, Rhodes-scholar-level superstoners, but I’ve never met one. It’s not like I wanted to become the CEO of Big Lots or some shit; I just wanted to have some dignity in my life. And the obvious lack thereof, which plagued me for the last several years of my use, sent me into the darkest depression I’d ever experienced about two weeks before I quit.

There must exist high-achieving, Rhodes-scholar-level superstoners, but I’ve never met one.

The truth of who I’d become was in direct opposition to the vision I’d had for myself as a child. Whoever dreams of becoming a middle-aged pothead? I was supposed to be vibrant and enjoy at least a modicum of professional success, but I was always too high and burned out to write anything to completion. I had become an unmotivated, out-of-breath hag, always with the enormous double-stuff spliff in my right hand.

And to be honest, at this point I couldn’t even get high. No amount of weed could give me any type of buzz. I was just plain tired. So damn tired.

On Sunday, October 21, 2012, a warm autumn afternoon, I came inside from the porch to roll another spliff and pop open the first-of-the-day bottle of beer, which I had started opening increasingly earlier in the day. I looked down at the kitchen table, strewn with ripped-up American Spirit cigarettes; rolling papers of two brands and sizes, of which some were ripped and some were whole; pieces of thin cardboard used to make a filter; and a few small hard-plastic containers of pot, each from a different medical-marijuana dispensary.

This tableau didn’t reflect the story I had fed myself for close to 18 years: that, for me, pot was a gentle, middle-class medicine that kept me happy and healthy, organically de-stressed. This mess on the kitchen table looked like the sloppy entrails of an addict. Fuck.

Here is where the argument that pot is not addictive comes most into play: the lack of a brutal detox. All I had were vaguely sweaty night sweats, nothing crazy. I actually started feeling more alive as each day passed, which is probably why the zealots get so mad: I didn’t have to physically suffer for quitting — no Hollywood cliché shakes, no Keith Richards flu. Yet my addiction was so fully embedded in my body and mind that I could not imagine another way of living or managing the wilderness inside my head.

As I write this, on the second floor of the San Francisco main library, I realize this is my first time writing here sober. The last time I came here to write, I kept packing up my laptop to go outside and get high. That day, I walked up Larkin and made a left on an alley to roll a spliff, keeping my eye out for cops and simultaneously trying to avert my eyes from the homeless person taking a shit on the ground.

This memory brings me intense humility. It’s hard to be reminded of how I used to live. Stoners are free to deny me my self-imposed label as an addict, but none can convince me my life would be better with just one hit.

One of the squarest, most socially alienating things you can say in SF is this: “I was addicted to pot.” “Bullshit,” people will respond, rolling their eyes. “You can’t get addicted to pot… ]]>