Friday, August 1, 2008

Feeling a Need for Weed?


U.K. book on cannabis dependency.

For James Langton, author of "No Need for Weed: Understanding and Breaking Cannabis Dependency", it was no easy task to find information and support when he sought to rid himself of a 30-year marijuana relationship. Through his own efforts, and the early help of Marijuana Anonymous, Langton became abstinent. And in an effort to help others in the same boat, he published his own account, a combination of personal memoir, anecdotes from pot smokers drawn to his own Clearhead support website, and a thoughtful assessment of the nature of both active marijuana dependency and marijuana withdrawal.

Langton has written a valuable and insightful book, dedicated, he says, to those "who fell blindly in love with the drug, in all its forms, without a second thought. But this book is also for those who, just like me, found that ending this love affair was much more difficult than they could ever have imagined...."

The delights of pot are self-evident: "It didn't feel wrong, dangerous or difficult; I just enjoyed life more when my senses were heightened and when I allowed the reality of everyday life to become a little distorted. After a couple of tokes, I seemed to feel the disparate parts of my consciousness clicking into place."

So why quit at all? "For a start," writes Langton, "I wanted to be clearheaded again; to be able to remember things; to be aware of time passing at normal speed, not stretched or shrunk. I wanted more of a social life. I wanted to be more confident and not so self-obsessed. I wanted to be in control and less lazy." Finally, he felt ready to "turn away from a pleasure that had evolved into a routine, then into a habit, and finally into full-blown dependency."

Metabolically, Langton had reached a point of addiction: "I needed to smoke just to feel normal. My tolerance for dope had reached such a point that if the THC in my system fell below a certain level I would feel a deep lack, a terrible emptiness."

The author found that one aspect made quitting "harder and more demoralizing" than necessary --"the almost universal dismissal from the medical and drug treatment professions about the reality of cannabis withdrawal.... very little specialist help is available to anybody who has lost control over their dope smoking."

Langton's explanation of what had happened to him is simple and understandable: "Our dopamine levels aren't meant to be tuned to such a high pitch on an everyday basis. Maybe a few times a month or the occasional binge, but if you're smoking relentlessly day after day, particularly strong skunk, then is it any wonder you might find it hard to take pleasure in the ordinary things of life?"

Langton also offers vivid descriptions of common withdrawal effects, including "the feeling of being overwhelmed by even the simplest interactions with other people, or becoming frustrated by what you would normally consider straightforward tasks." He also noted that "night sweats are difficult because, combined with light sleeping, they can cause discomfort to your partner as well.... The sweating can last for anything up to 21 days, but usually you are over the worst after about 10." In addition, Langton suggests that if you are experiencing an extreme loss of appetite, "be reassured that this is a very common symptom. The important thing is to make sure you are taking some nutrients onboard, otherwise you will start to feel week, light-headed and slightly sick." He warns of vivid dreams, and episodes of outsized anger. (The author's salient advice on anger: You can take it back.) As for energy levels, the whole withdrawal experience can "feel like jet lag, and the best advice is to treat it as such; in other words, try not to go to bed as soon as you come home from work..."

How long does it take? "At Clearhead we have found that it takes, on average, around four to six weeks for most people to fully adjust to not using cannabis.... others will still hit upon lingering symptoms up to two months after smoking their last joint."

Overall, a good read, full of telling anecdotes, personal honesty, and practical advice.

8 comments:

Peter O'Loughlin said...

Excellent stuff and a big thank you to James. Having walked the walk he is qulaified to tell the truth.

Sadly it is not only some of the misguided members of the medical profession who deny the problems this drug causes. Here in the UK it was the ADvisory Committe on the Miisuse of Drugs (ACMD) who (much to the joy of the pro drug lobby), be recommended downgrading to class B with disastrous results for many young people. The same body following a Government ordered review, in defiance of all the scientific evidence, sought to prevent it being reclassified to B. The cries of anguish from the pro drug lobby can still be heard.

Yes it is sad that so few so called addictions services offer help to those seeking to quit. In fact here in the UK the Government spin is that use is reducing. Strange then that the number of cannabis farms are increasing. Perhaps those who are investing in such are doing so purely out of their love of horticulture.

tim1leg said...

Thankd Dirk for highlighting this book, my order is in and look very much to reading his experience.

Dirk Hanson said...

Anybody having second thoughts about his or her use of weed will benefit from reading this book. It's writen in a very accessible and straightforward manner. (And the author is a nice guy.)

Anonymous said...

on another page at this site it says drugs dont make addicts ... the only people who have trouble with any drug are those for whom it is the ONLY important thing. if you are an artist (or you do sport, or car mechanics or whatever ..) and the drug is an accompaniment to your pleasure in your life work then its not a problem.

but if you are immature or just an undeveloped consumer/couch potato then you will have problems with substances which expand your awareness, and it will continue until you grow up or do something more interesting instead.

Anonymous said...

ps .. i would disagree that our dopamine levels are not meant to be at such levels all the time .. dopamine is the chemical messenger in our pleasure-reward system of our brains. weed only stimulates it like chocolate, sex or doing ANYTHING we enjoy. we do drugs like others spend too much or gamble or get fat, this is life after all

Anonymous said...

Yeah um, somebody sounds love sick to me. Having been a marijuana addict and having quite several times mover the last 10 yrs, I will vouch for withdrawl sypmtoms. I never felt anything besides a little insomnia that I generally have had anyways even when Im smokin steady. Im in Marijuana withdrawls (right now) from smoking at least a 5-10 bowls of chron a day to my head for at least 6 months, and oh my god, the world IS NOT falling apart. I am still as brilliant as I have ever been, high or not. And smoking pot has never made me lazy. My favorite thing to do is work (labor) while high. I abstain from MJ if I have any math or public interaction in my work.

Drugs are not to blame for poor impulse control. Genetics are

Criminalizing drugs for any reason is just plain moronic. If a drug is a problem, medical treatment and education is in order, not criminal sanctions- thats for murders, theifs, molestors, and preditors in general.

If you ask me, people who say they need addiction counseling are dumb, ignorant, and weak willed in general.

Anything can be addictive. Grow up, and take control of your impulses you weak little monkies.

Anonymous said...

JUST BECAUSE YOU SAY YOU WERE 'ADDICTED' (MERELY A STATE OF MIND) DOESN'T MEAN YOU ACTUALLY WERE AND NEED TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT!!! CHEMICALLY THERE IS NOT A SINGLE PROPERTY IN THE CANNABIS PLANT THAT IS ADDICTIVE!!! LOOKS LIKE YOU WERE TRYING USING CANNABIS TO EXPLAIN YOUR CRAP LIFE MATE. WITHDRAWL SYMPTOMS?? BULL!!!! ACTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE WHEN TALKING ABOUT CANNABIS!!! STOP BEING A HATER!!!! MAKE IT EASIER TO LEGALIZE CANNABIS FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE SICK AND NEED IT MEDICALLY AND FOR THOSE TO TAKE AS THEY WISH...ALSO TO SAVE THIS WORLD!!! DO NOT TRY AND DETER PEOPLE FROM THIS SAVIOUR PLANT THAT CAN CURE CANCER! DO YOUR RESEARCH DUMBASS!!! IT'S ALL OVER THE INTERNET...ALL OVER THE WORLD!! WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS BEING USED FOR CENTURIES IN MEDICAL PRACTICE?! CAN'T STAND IT WHEN PEOPLE CHAT OUT THEIR ARSE'S!!!!! DON'T LISTEN TO THIS FOOL PEOPLE!!! I EMPLORE YOU TO RESEARCH THIS FURTHER...THE TRUTH IS NOT HARD TO FIND. PLEASE WATCH- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeC8y19UBt4&list=FLanHlPkDi3H5aZ3RqE76dPA&index=1 -THIS WILL TEACH YOU ALOT. BIG UP THE GANJA!!!!

Dirk Hanson said...

I too would encourage a look at the current research. And stop shouting.

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