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Marijuana Addiction
Men Therapy Toronto - Why its So Difficult to Accept Your Addicted to Weed

Why it’s so difficult to accept you’re addicted to Weed?

The Illusion of Functionality

Accepting defeat to cannabis, usually considered a lightweight drug, can be humiliating. It’s akin to being the hare who loses a race to a turtle or to wetting your bed at your first sleepover. The two realities shouldn’t mix. When they do, a deep sense of shame is the natural response.

No person likes to admit they have a deficiency or that they’re uniquely flawed compared to all the “normal” people out there.

Addicted to weed…are you joking me? It’s not even a drug. It grows in the backyard, it’s NATURAL…no one ever died from weed…

If your justification for using substances is that no one has ever died doing it…then you might have a problem.

Cannabis addiction veils people’s perceptions of reality. It is the slowest yet most reliable form of “slow sand”. It sinks people before they notice they’re stuck. Similar to a frog in boiling water. The temperature adjusts so slowly that by the time the water is deadly, the frog is unaware of its impending doom.

Grasping for a sense of assuredness, people often resort to comparing themselves to other addicts to lessen the pain of their reality. This is a form of avoidance and a strategy for the marijuana addict to lessen their shame by thinking about all the other addicts who are “worse”.

“At least I don’t drive drunk and crash my car”.

“At least I’m not a junkie lining up at the safe injection site”.

The justifications are endless. The torment of embarrassment increases the weight of unworthiness. People carry a shame that …they’re not…a…good enough addict…because they compare themselves to all the other “worse” addicts out there strung out on crystal meth or heroin.

For people in the grips of addiction, the first and only thing they must do to recover is to accept they have a serious problem and they’ve lost all control over their use. They must wave the white flag and surrender.

What is Addiction Anyway?

Let’s just clarify a couple of definitions of addiction. The one I like most is from Gabor Maté,

“Any Addiction is manifested in any behavior that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up. In brief: craving, relief, pleasure, suffering, impaired control. Note that this definition is not restricted to drugs but could encompass almost any human behavior, from sex to eating to shopping to gambling to extreme sports to TV to compulsive internet use: the list is endless”. [1]

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reminds us that falling into the grips of addiction isn’t a moral failing. Our initial experimentation with substance use is usually voluntary. Some people are inherently vulnerable to addictive behavior, and with continued use, their ability to exert self-control becomes impaired. [2]

Once a person enters the addiction trap, brain imaging studies show how the physical changes in our brains impact our ability to control our behavior, think clearly, and make decisions that aren’t influenced by the addictive cycle. [3]

Smashing the Illusion

The important thing to note in recovery is, that the person MUST, self-identify as having a problem, and they MUST want to stop.

Back to the conundrum of the cannabis addict. Most of the time, people don’t end up in jail, they hold jobs, and often stay in relationships.

This is the trap, “Living the fantasy of functionality…holding onto the delusion that one day the enjoyable experience of getting high would return. People in this situation are, unfortunately, “ensnared in the insidious grip of marijuana”. [4]

Dr. Mate reminds us, It’s not about the addictive substance or behavior. It is about what we get from it. What the short-term relief is, and what it does do for the person.

Forgiving Ourselves

Part of the healing process involves the slow and steady process of forgiveness. We must learn to forgive ourselves because the shame, guilt, and remorse we carry keeps us emotionally sick. As noted by Dr. Maté, it is this pain that fuels the need to self-medicate through substance use and behavioral addictions.

Forgiveness comes from sustained changes through our actions, not what we say, think or wish would happen. We regain our dignity through dignified action. This ultimately helps us rebuild a sense of integrity as we learn to trust and appreciate ourselves.

We Heal With the Help of Others

Addiction recovery circles remind us that drugs aren’t the problem, they’re the solution, and the group is there to help people develop a healthy, life-enriching solution.

Recovery begins with a sense of connection to other people, to a deeper and softer way of relating to oneself. Ultimately, it comes from the decision to heal the broken soul, to face the darkness within, and imagine and develop a larger sense of what it means to be alive.

No one does this alone, people need help. There’s always someone on the other side who can and who wants to help. We just have to make the leap, there’s really nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Take it easy,

Mike Stroh MA (Cand.)

Mike Stroh MA (Cand.) is therapist in practicum at Men Therapy Toronto completing his Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) at Yorkville University.