Two years in a row I’ve tried to do Sober October and failed. Thing is, I don’t drink alcohol so I’m sober all year anyway – though I smoke weed or hash daily. Every now and then I come up with reasons to cut back, and go a few days without smoking, but always come to the convenient conclusion that life is better with a joint. I’m an addict, full of convenient conclusions, and the truth is, all I want to do is smoke weed. Is that a bad thing?
If I’m gonna get real here, the more pertinent question is: why do I smoke hash? Do you remember the first time you got stoned, really stoned? I do. I was about 20, and though I’d been smoking hash for a few years, I had yet to unlock its ability to transport me to another dimension. The day that happened I was in my parent’s house sneaking a joint upstairs in my childhood bedroom. I was sad about the end of a relationship, and trying to study for college but finding it impossible to focus. So I sat down on an old beanbag my mother had dumped in my room, rolled up, and blazed a fat one.
For the next five hours, my mind became a cerebral playground that transformed my college-work from mundane task into a fascinating learning experience. I got an A on that paper, and it’s safe to say from that day forth my cannabis use switched up a gear. I’d fallen in love. Whereas previously, a joint had been a way to unwind, or a nightcap after a night on the town, it now became a way to disconnect from the outside world, and connect with the things that mattered to me. However, it would take more than two decades for me to really understand the power of cannabis.
Today, I’m fit as fuck for a lifelong stoner who was allergic to gyms before the age of 40. For years, I believed that cannabis use and good health could not go hand in hand, and simply accepted my shameful identity as a user with a secret habit. Through a combination of education and exercise that’s changed, and these days, not only am I open about my love of Kush, I workout six days a week, follow a Keto/Paleo diet, and have successfully treated my gout, IBS, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Be under no illusion, the path to good health was not easy. It demanded vigilance, daily discipline and a willingness to question everything, even my cannabis use. As part of the process, I joined AA for a short spell, but what I experienced in the rooms was so shocking to me – you can read about my AA experiences here – it had the reverse effect, encouraging me to embrace rather than condemn cannabis.
The reality is I have no idea who I’d be without cannabis, but a big part of me believes I’d most likely be dead, having succumbed to the horrifying darkness of suicidal ideation. At best, I probably would have ended up addicted to opiates, as I was diagnosed clinically depressed at 25. After five days, I binned the anti-depressants prescribed by a psychiatrist, against her advice, and chose to self-medicate with hash instead. I’m old enough now to view my mental health issues with enough distance, perspective, and compassion to know I have to take something.
Bar a handful of occasions, when the pain was too bad to ignore, I don’t take pharmaceutical drugs or go to the doctor for any of my health issues. As someone who has a bunch of digestive problems, I’ve been forced over the years to restrict my diet until finding the foods I can consume with aggravating my IBS or gout. It’s why I eat a Keto/Paleo diet, exercise, and am obsessed with nutrition. Cannabis has played a big part in this process, becoming a necessary medication to soothe the pain of inflammation when needed, and a reliable friend during the lonely days of illness.
There’s another point to keep in mind: I’m a writer. OK, so you’ve never heard of me, and I’ve never published a book but that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent years at my desk learning how to construct a sentence; nor does it mean I haven’t written two novels, seven drafts of the first, nine and counting of the second. Writing involves A LOT of alone time, much navel-gazing, and a shit-load of self-doubt with an extra helping of self-criticism. Successful writers find a balance between these competing forces, and I’d wager many of them do it with chemical help, ‘cause trust me, it’s not fucking easy.
Plus, the reality is everyone is addicted to something. EVERYONE. I feel blessed that my addiction of choice has many benefits, but I’m not blind to its traps. I’m guilty of using hash to withdraw from day-to-day life, shirking responsibilities and goals along the way, and there’s no question my life path would be very different had I not become a stoner. But if the ultimate goal is to arrive a place comfortable in one’s own skin, and eager to find ways to spread comfort amongst the community, does it matter the path? Does it matter as long as the traveler has fun along the way, riding the crash of loss with a heavy heart that’s always open to knowledge, forgiveness and love?
Conclusion. I’m so beyond the point of reducing my cannabis use to either “good” or “bad” when the relationship is far more complex than those reductive terms imply. I’m more interested in exploring the ways cannabis benefits my health as well as the healthiest ways to consume it. That’s why I started this blog.
I can stop when I really want to, enduring the few nights of disturbed sleep and foul mood, and usually after three or four days I find I really enjoy not being stoned for a while but abstaining has to be on my terms in order to manage my health issues. Honestly, I’m far more concerned about smoking tobacco when all I want to do is smoke weed. But that’s an issue I’ll reserve for another post. In the meantime, blaze on, my freaky friends.