If you are trying to quit using marijuana, you have to change your habits. We have explained in the previous articles why setting aside time every day to do a meditative activity is important. This activity creates a good habit that can be modified to create a new experiences. If you have a set of habits that support your decision to cut down or quit using weed, it will be much easier to stay away from dope. You need to meditate every day, get a regimen of daily habits that will help you achieve your goals, and keep trying new things.
What use it or lose it has to do with dopamine
Our last article explained how new experiences are something we should do if we are trying to increase our happiness level. Why is this the case? Gregory Berns, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, in an interview for the documentary Happy, offers the following explanation: “The body adapts to what it needs to do, so the ‘use it or lose it’ probably applies to some degree to the brain as well, and so the idea would be to seek out experiences that release dopamine or that you need dopamine to do. The things that are best at doing that interestingly involve physical activity, so aerobic exercise is probably one of the best releasers of dopamine, especially if you do it in novel ways.”
Dopamine levels and aging
Trying new things, especially physical activities that are done in a novel way, is important for everyone as they become older, not just people trying to quit using marijuana. This is because our ability to produce and absorb dopamine slowly decreases with age, which sucks. As Berns puts it, “Pretty much as you age, from about teenage years onward, you’re slowly losing dopamine synapses and probably dopamine neurons as well. As far as we know, no one’s observed those regenerating.” As we’ve pointed out in previous articles, weed messes with your dopamine levels by artificially stimulation of your neurons. At this juncture, most research points to the lowered dopamine levels experienced by marijuana users when they aren’t high as a temporary situation. Science believes dopamine levels will eventually rise to normal levels after abstaining from marijuana for a certain amount of time. This is also known as a tolerance break.
Increase your dopamine levels naturally, not by using weed
Everyone’s tolerance varies, but the important point is that straight edgers and potheads are both subject to the slow dying off of dopamine synapses and neurons that goes along with aging, so the only tampering that anyone should ever be doing with dopamine levels is to be increasing them via natural methods: physical activity, new experiences, certain foods, intimate relationships, etc. While it’s true that weed is a plant, the fact is that the active ingredients in it put your dopamine transmitters and receivers through the ringer by artificially overexciting them.
Long-term pot users have lowered dopamine levels (but it’s temporary)
Weed overworks your dopamine synapses and neurons
A doctor once told me that older people usually get diabetes not because they have high-sugar diets or weight problems in old age, but because they had these issues over a long period of time when they were younger. Even if they they’ve changed their diet and lost weight, they’d already pushed their pancreas so hard and for so long that they had plum worn it out. That makes sense because stuff wears out faster than normal when it’s worked hard. Marijuana taxes your dopamine synapses and neurons by overstimulating them, which could accelerate the dying off process. Let me repeat: The very last thing you want is your reward system to wear out on you. Next: Advice from a Recovered Addict