Weed Is Not Some Harmless Herb
We finished the last article with an introduction to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., who is the”architect of the notion of flow.” Forty years of interviewing people on the subject of what makes them most happy led him to the belief that “creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives.” In his TED talk “Flow, the Secret to Happiness,” Csidszentmihalyi shares an excerpt from one those interviews. In it, the subject uses the word ecstatic to describe how composing music feels at its best. Csikszentmihalyi points out that the original definition of ecstasy “meant simply to stand to the side of something. And then it became essentially an analogy for a mental state in which you feel you are not doing your ordinary, everyday routine. So ecstasy is essentially an alternative reality.” This parallels what Clune says about needing to get out of himself in order to stay sober. Being in the flow, being in an altered reality, is something you can do without weed. In fact, if you want to experience flow regularly and for the long-term, you have to learn how to initiate it when you’re sober.
Weed eventually kills flow
Many people use drugs to further enhance flow. Musicians, writers, and artists often use weed to help them create. Weed helps them initiate the flow state more quickly as well as intensify and prolong the state. And while weed can boost flow temporarily, using it as a flow catalyst isn’t tenable. This is because in order to trick the brain’s homeostasis mechanism, the amount of marijuana needs to keep being upped. And as usage or strength keeps being increased in an effort to keep the effects of weed level, the flow state evaporates. At some point, you bypass flow and go straight to baked. Follow Clune’s lead. Help yourself to stay sober by doing two things: figure out what activities let you experience flow, and make sure you put enough time aside every day to attempt to experience it.
Weed: wolf in sheep’s clothing
A marijuana habit doesn’t support physical, intellectual, or emotional fitness. Plus, burnout on weed has a deceptively long windup. If you don’t believe that, spend a couple of minutes perusing the marijuana and marijuana addiction message boards. You can’t throw a stick without hitting a post written by a forty-something who’s been a regular weed smoker for half his life (or more) who’s suddenly woken up and realized to his horror that he’s slowly—vewy vewy slowly—painted himself into a corner. You tend to feel super betrayed when you are duped by something that came across as so harmless. Even being high on weed seems less harmful than being high on alcohol or other drugs. And it probably is. But that doesn’t mean weed isn’t harmful. Weed’s mellow, herbal image belies its dark side.
Unlike heroin or other drugs where users get hardcore-addicted and hit bottom at some point, weed users almost never hit any bottom. A heroin addict or alcoholic can hit bottom, recover, and go on to lead productive, interesting lives. (For example Clune, Jerry Stahl, and on and on). Hardcore potheads, on the other hand, just keep going steady. They are the Energizer bunnies of drug addiction. And these are the people who post long, cautionary tales on message boards, especially in response to someone posting on the awesomeness and harmlessness of weed.
It’s never too late to quit
What if you are one of these middle-aged long-term users, but you haven’t been able to quit? That’s a tough nut to crack. Even for the best-equipped person an incredible amount of motivation is required to reverse circumstances that have built up over years and years, and someone who handicaps his motivation by using weed won’t stand a chance. Follow the advice on this site and remember that the way out will require clarity, and clarity requires sobriety. And things do get better, no matter how late in the game you decide to quit using weed.
Tired of feeling stupid
Using immoderately and even moderately once you’re past a certain age—it was the mid-to-late 20s for me—will ultimately sap you of energy, creativity, concentration, and thus the ability to move into the flow state. It also stunts your growth emotionally and intellectually. I was so tired of not being able to think straight. People thought I was stupid. After a while, I began to think I was stupid. It was amazing to be able to follow a conversation, have a coherent train of thoughts once again.
If you do everything you can to feel happy naturally, you will lessen and eventually eliminate the desire to use weed. Once this happens, you will open up. Using weed has the opposite effect. It whittles your world down to weed and not much else.
Without weed, your horizons will expand
Sobriety, on the other hand, doesn’t need or even want all your attention. In fact, sobriety does nothing so much as take a back seat while enlarging your world. There’s a snowball effect with sobriety. It gathers good things to it, and it gets bigger and as it rolls along. Good things start happening like the ability to stick with a set of habits that are supportive, the clarity to see the people, situations, and habits that aren’t supportive and the wherewithal to jettison them. You start to feel a curiosity about the world. You gain the energy to explore new interests, a better self-understanding, and the ability to see and act upon opportunities when they arise. Jettison the weed.