OK. So as discussed very briefly in my post yesterday, I wanted to talk about drugs. Specifically drugs and me.
I’ve been a high functioning drug addict of sorts for some time now. I started smoking marijuana in university and basically haven’t stopped since.
“Wait a minute…weed? is that it??” I hear you ask, well no not quite. Let me try to explain.
At first it was just recreational whenever people had it or whenever I went to some shitty party and a joint was being passed round. When I graduated and started working my partner and I were living at opposite ends of the country and I didn’t have much to do outside of work. So I played World of Warcraft and got stoned. A lot. Soon cannabis just became part of my daily routine. The more I used it the more I became dependant on it, and for those of you who claim cannabis is not addictive…well you are partially right and partially wrong.
Physically, the active compounds in cannabis are not addictive. Your body does not go through physical withdrawal symptoms like it does with heroin or meth. However psychologically the addiction for some people (those who would be considered to have an addictive personality) can be very great indeed.
There’s a great episode of House which features an extremely intelligent patient who feels he must dumb himself down by mixing certain drugs with alcohol in order to be able to cope with things in daily life such as interactions with his girlfriend (who he feels like he cannot relate to). This is what I started to do, albeit I am NOT as smart as the guy in the show and it was nothing to do with an unrelatable girlfriend. I simply started getting angry and irritated at almost anything and I felt plagued by idiots who seemed to me to be way beneath my level intellectually speaking. I found that my mind would race with light speed when I wasn’t focused on something (like being at work) and it started becoming more and more difficult to get to sleep at night. This is the point that I started spending around £20 a week on weed. Humble beginnings, and it’s the year 2005.
As time moved on I progressed in my career, started to make more money, finally had enough saved so that my partner and I could get a flat together and begin a proper life after university. With the increased funds came the temptation to spend more on dope, after all I could afford it now and there’s nothing like running out of weed at the weekend amirite?
£20 bags turned into 2 x £20 bags. Then £50 bags. Then a Q a week. Then…I forget. I honestly don’t know just how much I was smoking when I was at my stoner peak.
The last decade, is about 40% absent from my memory. It got to the point where all I could think about was getting home to sit in my chair, smoke a joint, and quiet the everlasting stream of thoughts that plowed their way through my brain all the time. The weekends, where I didn’t have the burden of work and hence had no excuse not to smoke all day long, became a haze of pot smoke and video games. I’d racked up around 300 days /played on WoW back when I was active, 1846 hours on L4D2, and countless hours on hundreds of other games. Yeah I didn’t go out much.
I was 100% psychologically addicted. Today as I sit here typing this I wish I could tell you that I was free of the addiction but I can’t do that quite just yet, there’s more to the story.
When I couldn’t get hold of weed, it would be painkillers, preferably opioids that had the same mind soothing sedative effect that I needed to shut up Brains. Codeine, diazepam, whatever I could get hold of really. The more I think back the more I realise that I was probably depressed way before I realised it and although I didn’t admit it for years, weed wasn’t helping.
“Blah blah THC kills cancer cells, blah blah proven safer than blah blah no risk of schizophrenia unless you’re pre disposed blah blah”
-Me, circa 2005 / 2012. Pretty much any time my partner suggested I might be smoking too much.
Fuck that guy, past me, what a tool! Weed has completely fucked with my brain’s natural reward/release system, which has directly contributed to my depression or is part of it, I’m not sure, it’s tricksy.
When you do something that can be considered reward-motivated behaviour, a neurotransmitter in your brain is released that regulates feelings of pleasure that you ought to receive from such actions. Or something like that, I’m not a neurologist but I understand that dopamine is what controls the do-something-good/get-pleasure-reward-vibes mechanism in your brain. The diagram I have drawn below illustrates this quite well:
How dopamine works. It’s simple science.
Thanks to being a career stoner for the best part of a decade, my system does not work quite so well. Part of depression is joylessness, not just a general morose or melancholy, but literal joy-less-ness. You become unable to take pleasure from the things you used to enjoy doing. Your brain got so used to being flooded with dopamine ALL THE DAMN TIME that it can no longer self regulate. I do not know if this damage is permanent and that kinda scares me.
I used to laugh off the idea that it could be making matters worse but now I know that was naive. I’ve resolved to change and have already made steps to doing so. First of all I’ve given up smoking tobacco, which I only ever used in joints as a medium to conserve weed. I’m on those patches that itch my arm and aren’t as satisfying as rolling a joint and if I forget to take off before sleeping I feel like UTTER CRAPOLA in the morning, but they are controlling cravings and I haven’t smoked anything whilst I’ve been on them. I also went cold turkey for a week on the other stuff and now only use a small amount in a vaporizer, cutting down my usage by roughly a half.
These things are THE SHIT.
So yeah, I’m finally awakened to the fact that if I want to stop feeling miserable I’d need to give up some of the stuff that is not helping in that department.
I won’t deny liking drugs, and I haven’t even started talking on the psychedelic experience yet, that’s still to come. However I’m ready to accept now that usage has to be more responsible. Fucking WAY more responsible brah.
Like anything, too much of a good thing will kill you, or make you mentally unstable, or give you a really good proficiency at playing Left 4 Dead 2. However you choose to look at it, the options aren’t really that great.