The last article looked at how exposure therapy can help you moderate your weed use. We’d like to mention another benefit moderating has over quitting cold turkey: the reduction or elimination of physical withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis withdrawal, whether physical or psychological, can be uncomfortable. Symptoms can include insomnia, headaches, a lack of appetite, muscle cramps and pain, and mood swings.
People Going Through Marijuana Withdrawal Are Highly Susceptible To Relapse
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms peak and then fade. The peak occurs at different times for everyone, but it’s usually within the first three or four days. Because it’s uncomfortable, many people use to relieve their symptoms. The abstinence model would call this a relapse, which basically means you’ve failed, but feelings of failure don’t help. They are destructive. They undermine self-esteem, which undermines the confidence one needs to have in order to set and achieve goals–goals like cutting down or quitting weed. Moderation is a good first step because it doesn’t allow for failure. There’s no such thing as a relapse when you’re moderating. It’s true that you can mess up on moderating your weed usage, but it’s not viewed as harshly as a relapse. And remember how important self-compassion is?
Moderation Isn’t a Permanent Solution for Some People
Moderation means that you don’t need to quit, that you go on smoking moderately indefinitely. And if you can moderate your marijuana use through exposure therapy or by some other method and remain a moderate user, then you are lucky. I realized I was never going to be one of those people who could take one or two hits when the opportunity presented itself, or even use it in moderation. I don’t do moderation well, and I’ve come to accept this, and I’ve figured out workarounds.
I Told Myself I Was Only Moderating
I used moderation as a crutch, a shill, a little white lie I told myself. I knew I had to quit. Weed was getting more and more control over me, and I was becoming more and more worried about that loss. The worry was further intensified as I kept failing in my attempts to quit smoking weed. But even when I was high, a thought would fly by like those planes at the beach that trail banners saying that I had a problem with weed. Other worrying thoughts included asking myself if I could get this addicted to a non-addictive substance, what the hell kind of addiction was next up? When I would acknowledge to myself that I wasn’t helping myself intellectually, emotionally, physically, socially, and financially by using it, I’d tell myself that I was going to have to quit smoking weed, permanently. (Echo and fade on the word permanently.) That thought terrified me.
Not exactly weed-related, but important nonetheless:
Are You An Abstainer or a Moderator?
Though I was definitely becoming more and more alarmed that I couldn’t quit using weed, I was equally horrified by the thought of a life without it. I guess the thoughts about quitting (permanently, permanently, permanently…) were stronger than my fears of quitting because I kept trying to quit. But every attempt had been unsuccessful, so I knew I needed to get creative. This is what I did: I told myself that I was going to walk the middle path, the path of moderation. But underneath, I knew I was lying to myself. I knew I wasn’t capable of moderation. What I was really doing was biding my time until I became strong enough to quit. Moderating allowed me to cut down, and cutting down made me feel less and less like a zombie snail. As I gained successes with moderation, I began to get back–little by little–the control my addiction to weed had taken from me.
As you can see if you watched the zombie snail video, feeling like one is something to be avoided at all costs. So I lied to myself while knowing I was lying to myself. I got comfortable with it. Oh hai self! Nothing major happening here, just a little moderating going on. It’s a type of tolerance break! Yeah, that’s it. Just a tolerance break of sorts. (Not!)
Next: The Many Models of Addiction.