Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis leaf artwork

Being natural is normal. Being you without any exogenous chemicals is normal. But when you use a substance to get high while hiding behind the excuse, “it makes me normal,” then something is clearly wrong. No drug can make you normal. People want to see the real you and if you’re saying that drugs make you normal, then there is something that you’re doing wrong. Cannabis addiction is notorious for making users believe that the high makes the normal.

Drugs were never created to make you feel normal. There are many arguments behind the creation of drugs, but almost everyone will agree that drugs are not a replacement of your personality. If your personality is changing while experimenting with a drug, then please stop using the drug. If anything good is to be observed from drugs, it’s perhaps their great ability to make you more creative, allow you to think outside the box and relax more efficiently. But your personality must remain congruent with these drug-induced states, or else you’re allowing the drug to mold your personality into someone you’re not.

Cannabis Addiction is Real

Many people are still under the impression that you can’t get addicted to cannabis. Many uneducated people continue to push the line, “weed hasn’t killed anyone.” Cannabis addiction has nothing to do with deaths. Drugs such as cocaine, meth, MDMA and PCP can lead to deaths, but cannabis is not one of them. What cannabis shares in common with all other drugs is the potential for psychological addiction. The fact that cannabis doesn’t cause deaths is even more appealing to users. They believe, “if weed isn’t that bad, then why not keep using it?”

The physical safety net of cannabis acts like a reinforcer for people to keep using the drug. The more a person uses, the more they need to consume to get a similar high. This is because their mind, at the receptor and neurotransmitter level, becomes desensitized to the THC; it needs more of it to feel as high as before. So the user consumes more or spends more money on a higher quality product, until they become tolerant to the new dose. In addition, with practice comes perfection. A user will also learn how to more effectively function under a high state of mind, motivating them to consume the drug in different situations.

Overall, the idea of cannabis addiction is something to keep in the back of your mind if you’re a regular user. Reminding yourself of this possibility can help you regulate your intake, especially if you find yourself toking more. There is no shame in catching yourself smoking more and having to cut back down. Your mental health comes first; having fun always comes second.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cannabis Legalization

The Good, Bad and Ugly

Let’s start off with The Good of cannabis legalization: governments will get to regulate the production and distribution, ensuring quality products in stores asking for an ID just like how it’s asked for alcohol and tobacco. This will ensure that people are not smoking synthetic cannabinoids (such as K2 or Spice) or low quality flowers which provide shorter durations of high, motivating people to smoke more frequently. In addition, the social aspect of legalization is surely a victory; here is a natural product that has been used since ancient China for medicinal and social purposes. It’s finally available (legally).

The Bad: mental health problems will rise. Yes, I know the argument that people who want to smoke already smoke, whether legal or not. But now imagine opening up stores all around your neighborhood with green crosses flashing. It’s going to be much more tempting for people to purchase some flower; even people who never previously smoked. The idea that it’s legal and the psychology of seeing so many people enter the shops on a daily basis will be quite enticing! In addition, the THC content of modern day cannabis is much higher. Research is still ongoing regarding whether THC can cause psychosis vs. an increased susceptibility of developing psychosis in those with genes for psychosis.

Cannabis Legalization: The Ugly

The Ugly: it makes me normal!” Psychological addiction will increase. The downside with higher THC products is that people will like it more: they will experience a more intense euphoria and increased urges to smoke more and more often. Euphoria is very nice when experiencing the daily hustles and bustles of work, stress and relationship conflicts; marijuana is great at helping you let go and enjoy the moment. With cannabis at a store near you, it will be more enticing to order products delivered to your home, seeking that euphoric high much more conveniently; getting high will become easier than doing your own damn laundry!

There, you have my take on legalization. Do I like it that it’s happening? Yes, I do. Am I realistic? Yes, I am. I truly believe that in the long-run, we will see more mental health problems surrounding cannabis, but only time can tell. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Alcohol Addiction

Mental Illness and Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is a mental illness. Whether it’s through genes, environmental experiences or simple curiosity, once alcohol enters your bloodstream, it salivates its way to your brain. It then smoothly crosses your blood-brain barrier and camps for as long as it can. It then makes your brain its home. If you are already vulnerable, such as experiencing emotional pain, suffering from a mental illness or the victim of peer pressure, you will quickly learn that alcohol is like a potion. It quickly numbs away your painful experience. Once booze and your brain shake hands, call it a deal made in hell.

Does this mean that you are now prone to developing an addiction? Not necessarily. Is it possible? Absolutely. Many people with anxiety disorders or depression love alcohol. The substance helps lubricate their shyness, fears, anxieties and low mood, but only in the moment! Once your brain soaks up all the ethanol like a sponge, it crashes. You feel hungover or even worse you start to experience withdrawal effects such as tremors, anxiety, restlessness, sweating, insomnia and excessive thoughts of acquiring more alcohol. Severe withdrawal effects include seizures, shaking, confusion and hallucinations, also known as delirium tremens.

Can you Recover from Alcohol Addiction?

Absolutely, but it takes a strong will to do so. If you’re even 10% ambivalent, the chances of a successful recovery slim down. You must want to be free from alcohol. Quitting alcohol means no drinks whatsoever. You can no longer have a glass of wine at dinner or a beer when out with friends. I know this sounds harsh, but the saying is very true, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” To quit alcohol addiction, you must be 100% sure that you’ll never drink ever again. Too many recovered addicts take a chance thinking that one drink will not do anything, only to find themselves back in their old habits. My point is this: you can successfully recover from this mental illness but you have to sacrifice alcohol from your life for good.

Why does alcohol love your brain so much? Or simply reversed, why do you like alcohol so much? I’ll let you answer those questions.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Do People Use Drugs?

Drug Use

Why do people use drugs? Because it turns their world into a 3D-enhanced virtual reality setting. This allows them to play with the controls as they wish, regardless of the consequences. Users lose interest in normality and may forget that they have responsibilities that cannot always be sacrificed for pleasure. Drugs swallow up some people like a black hole, while others casually float about in the surrounding space, without any problems returning back to reality.

No one intends on getting addicted to a substance. Some people start experimenting due to peer pressure, wanting to fit in, trauma or simple curiosity. We are not here to judge why someone experiments with a drug. Everyone comes from a different background and walk of life and had their specific reason for trying drugs. As mental health professionals, we can analyze with the patient why they started using them, but we’re not in the business of judging them. What’s the point of judgment? It’s not going to help them in the present moment.

So Why Do People Use Drugs? I Still Don’t Get It

Because they want to have fun! Regardless of why they started using drugs, it ultimately comes down to altering their perception of reality. When one alters their perception, they gain newfound knowledge or experiences that are euphoric, enticing and entertaining. Even if it’s for a few hours, it sometimes feels like eternity due to the slowing down of time. When in that euphoric spot, the world is perfect and no one can mess with it; they become one with their mind and surroundings. Music is enhanced, Netflix shows are more entertaining, and empathy for others increases with certain drugs such as MDMA and alcohol. This is why people use drugs.

But why do some people get addicted and others don’t? Because everyone’s brain chemistry and personality are different. Some people have better judgment, more motivation or more realistic expectations; this allows them to completely stop or take breaks that prevents an addiction from manifesting. Other people are not as good at holding themselves back from drug use. For these people, drugs overtake their life while attempting to remain functional. The problem is that drugs and functionality are not a good mix; imagine drinking alcohol and water at the same time. You’re either going to give up the booze or the water. The same goes with people who are prone to becoming addicted to drugs. They end up slowly sacrificing their functionality for more drug use, due to tolerance, dependence and withdrawal.

What is your take on drug use and is society headed towards full-blown legalization of all drugs within the next 25 years?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Smoking Cigarettes

Positive Affirmation – Quitting Cigarettes

“I am free of cigarettes because I have experienced the joy of lighting up during many different activities and now I realize that it’s not for me. Smoking cigarettes kill my lungs and I prefer to breath peacefully instead. Cigarettes increase my chances of developing lung, bladder and pancreatic cancer and also make me cough like a mule. Cigarettes make me reek like an old chimney and make my fingers look disgusting. They enslave me by causing me to smoke whenever I get a break or experience an unpleasant emotion. Cigarettes are the most addicting substance known to mankind and I refuse to further engage with this evil drug. I cherish my mind, body and soul and cigarettes are no longer a part of my life. I am free of cigarettes and proud of it!

People start smoking cigarettes to look cool and fit in, but I am cool without them. I don’t need cigarettes to make friends. I make friends without cigarettes through my personality alone. Who needs cigarettes to enhance their personality? It’s only a facade. My personality shines without cigarettes and people appreciate me for who I am. While it may be fun to smoke with others, I am destroying my health and creating a monster of an addiction. Why become addicted to something for the sake of fitting in? Even if I fit in, I may never talk to these kids ever again.

Smoking Cigarettes is a Waste of Life

I cherish my life and don’t want to erase precious minutes by inhaling poison. This poison makes me feel better in the moment, but it will make me feel worse in the future. Cigarettes do not bring me happiness. I prefer to not smoke anything and just be natural, finding happiness through exercise, learning and spending time with friends and family. What do I gain from smoking? I want to live a long and prosperous life and feel healthy in the present and future. I can’t even exercise properly when I smoke; becoming out of breath like an exhausted dog is a terrible feeling. No, that’s not for me. Smoking cigarettes is a waste of life.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Smoking Marijuana

Positive Affirmation – Free from Cannabis

“I am free of marijuana because I realize that it’s not necessary for me to use it to be happy and find joy in life. Even though marijuana is fun, I find pleasure in socializing in a sober state of mind. I enjoy my senses without having the munchies or watching movies and listening to music in an altered state of reality. I also enjoy not coughing up a lung or experiencing panic attacks when I am getting high. I prefer to have a clear conscience and not feel guilty when I am high. Smoking marijuana is an act of my past.

Cannabis helps me think outside the box but I can also do that without using it. I enjoy meditating and thinking which help me harness new creative ideas. Cannabis intoxicates my mind and makes me want to use more. The high gets my dopamine to act funny, making me psychologically crave more of it. I’ve tried stopping cannabis in the past; the worst part are the first few weeks after stopping. I end up craving more and have to struggle to stop myself from using. Why put myself through this mental obstacle? I rather just be free and at peace, regardless of its legality.

Smoking Marijuana – The Gateway Act

Everyone says it’s not a gateway drug but they are wrong. Marijuana convinces the mind that there is more next door. This leads to either consuming more of it or seeking other substances never previously experienced. Classically, the next class of substances to make an appearance are the hallucinogens; can you say shrooms without thinking of its magical effects? And after that comes cocaine and what not. This does not apply to everyone but certainly applies to enough. Why do I need more drugs in my life? I can find mental satisfaction without consuming mind-altering chemicals.

How do I prevent myself from consuming? I stop smoking marijuana and put away the substance without seeking it. Sometimes it helps to completely discard it. I stop seeking the munchies, fun experiences and thought-provoking moments; I can find those naturally. I am not here to judge others on their partaking. In this case, I don’t want to use marijuana anymore. I find happiness by being sober and enjoying what life has to offer me. While smoking marijuana may be fun, I create my life circumstances and breath fun into existence without the THC binding to my cannabinoid receptors.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drug Use

Positive Affirmation – Staying Clear of Drugs

“I am free of drug use because they bring nothing but pain, destruction and addiction. Drugs, whether cannabis, alcohol or anything that alters the brain affects my personality, sanity and spirit. I prefer to stay clear from these substances. Drugs distract me from my life purpose and internally destroy me, throwing me off my course. Therefore, I stay clear of drugs and find happiness within myself. Drug use is not something I look forward to because it provides a synthetic form of happiness. True happiness is when I am clear-headed and become excited without substances.

Many people try drugs for the first time; some eventually stop while others become addicted. Why should I take the chance to become hooked just for a few hours of pleasure? There are many types of drugs out there: hallucinogens, stimulants, sedative/hypnotics, etc. While many of these drugs can enhance my creativity, they also suppress my serotonin and increase my chances of freaking out. Some people become psychotic on high doses of hallucinogens and cannabis. While the psychosis may be temporary, why put my mind through that sort of horror?

Drug Use is a Distraction from Success

Many adolescents have the potential to do well in school but get distracted by drug use. They want to fit into popular cliques and see drug use as their only ticket. The problem is not the fitting in; they often do so successfully through drug use. The problem is the consequences of their use. They start with cannabis or alcohol with often leads to cocaine, hallucinogens and Molly. Any of these drugs can cause an adverse experience such as poisoning, psychosis, car accidents, depression, etc. Drugs are fun in the moment, but they destroy your chances of succeeding in the future.

You’re better off finding friends who do not partake in drugs. Focus on your studies, sports and finding happiness through natural means. Drugs may seem to bring you pleasure and happiness in the moment, but they’re just a distraction from reality. Reality is not meant to be altered by drugs; it’s meant to be lived and experienced as is. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree with the hope of gaining knowledge. In return, they manifested destruction for the rest of humanity’s future generations. Just stick with what your senses can perceive and learn to utilize the power of your mind to manifest success, happiness and riches.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Don’t Be A Slave To Technology

Hooked On Apps

With modern-day technology right at our fingertips, it can become very easy to fall trap to an addiction. Whether it’s dating apps, gaming or binge watching Netflix all day, everyone has a tendency to surf the border between a normal experience vs. a pathological one. This is because technology does a great job at targeting our reward center in the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. This is where the neurotransmitter dopamine is released, making us feel good!

It’s very difficult for us to step away from technology because it’s so prevalent in our lives. Unless you decide to go live in the great outdoors somewhere in Colorado or Montana, you’re going to be surrounded by technology whether you like it or not. Unless you decide to live without cable, internet or even a cell phone, then you’re going to be surrounded by technology. It’s scary to say but there’s almost no escaping it!

So what can we do so that we don’t feel enslaved to it? We have to harness the willpower within us to balance our lives. Consciously, we know that we need to make a change but we often lack the strength to do so. It’s easier to succumb to our habits of relying on technology because it provides instant gratification, on a conscious level and all the way down on a neurochemical level. Minute amounts of dopamine release is enough to keep us engrained in our daily technological habits.

The willpower that I am talking about involves putting aside your technological habit and replacing it with something else, whether it’s for 5 minutes or a couple of hours. The replacement obviously should be something not related to technology, such as reading, exercising, socializing, etc. Most people fail at this point because they realize that they should be doing something else, but end up just doing what is easier; in this case, technology.

It’s quite a challenge these days to get involved with activities that don’t incorporate technology, especially as it continues to rapidly evolve. Honestly speaking, it sometimes feels like a virus that surrounds us 24/7. This virus might be more deadlier than COVID-19; it might not kill you, but it certainly has the potential of psychologically harming you over many years to come. How about the young man who committed suicide after he found out that he owed $750,000 dollars on Robinhood after an unsuccessful investment? But let’s not view technology as a virus because it seems too gloomy to do so, but it is food for thought!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Stronger Than Alcohol

Positive Affirmation: Alcoholism Does Not Control Me

“I am stronger than alcohol because it does not control who I am, does not influence my willpower, does not shape my personality, does not influence my decision-making and certainly does not make me addicted to it!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drugs’ Crazy Voices

When Drugs Make You Insane

Drug abuse can happen for many years until psychiatric symptoms manifest themselves. Some people can use drugs their entire lives and never experience any psychiatric symptoms, while others use drugs for a few days and develop a psychotic episode. There is no way of determining whether you are predisposed to developing a mental illness after using drugs. Your best bet is to avoid drug experimentation in the first place and find happiness through sobriety.

Many drug users will report having used meth, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs for years without any psychiatric side effects, until that one day arrives when auditory hallucinations kick in and the patient becomes afraid for his or her life. At first, they think that it’s the drug that’s causing them to hear voices within their head, but when their body metabolizes the drugs and the voices persist, then they really become afraid for their lives.

That’s because there’s no guarantee that the psychiatric symptoms will stop when the drugs are metabolized by the body; everyone’s brain reacts differently. Some people are naturally predisposed to developing a mental illness; this is based on a bio-psycho-social model:

  • Biologically: genetics
  • Psychologically: the way you think and view the world
  • Socially: your social environment and the experiences that have and currently shape you

All of these factors can make or break you when it comes to using drugs and there’s no way of knowing it beforehand. That’s why drugs are so unpredictable and not worth trying in the first place. What if you happen to be that one person who ends up becoming psychotic? Do you really want to take a chance just so that you can experience a 60 minute high?

Some psychiatric patients will report voices telling them to “straighten your body”or believe that there are cameras implanted in their home and that someone is spying on them; this is known as paranoia. Some will experience ideas of reference, such as believing that they can use telepathy to put thoughts into others’ minds or believe that they themselves are receiving special messages through texts. As their time away from drugs increases, their symptoms may start to diminish, but keep in mind that for many, the symptoms do not diminish and they end up requiring antipsychotics.

The bottom line is that you do not know how your mind will react to drugs and that developing a mental illness after drug use is not farfetched; it’s based on reality of thousands of patients worldwide who develop a mental illness secondary to drug use. Let’s avoid that fate for you by remaining sober and finding happiness through natural activities such as exercising, socializing and mindfulness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Exit mobile version
%%footer%%