The Many Layers of Pot Addiction

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Sometimes pot addiction (weed, marijuana, etc.) gets dismissed as being a “soft” drug addiction because many people see pot as being rather harmless compared to other drugs. People do this minimizing for a couple of reasons:

1) Marijuana detox does not generally produce any withdrawal symptoms. So most anyone can stop using pot, cold turkey, without suffering any ill effects. Other “harder” drugs produce more of a physical and psychological craving during detox.

2) There really is no ceiling on intoxication. With a drug like alcohol, if you drink about six time more than what it takes to get you drunk, you end up dying. The same idea can be found with other drugs in which people can overdose. But there really is no potential for overdose with pot addiction, so people take this as another sign that the drug is harmless.

3) Many people tried smoking pot and walked away from it without becoming addicted. Contrast this with the same group of people who might have tried cigarettes or even alcohol, and you can see that the perception is that other drugs are much more addictive than pot.

The truth about pot addiction

The truth is that anyone has the potential of becoming addicted to pot and having it ruin their life. The problem is not so much in the physical effects of the drug, but more about what it is doing to the person at the behavioral level.

People who get addicted to pot smoke it every day. It becomes a daily ritual and eventually it consumes almost every activity with the need to get high beforehand, during, or afterward. This is not a physical addiction of course, but people are still addicted to it in the following ways:

1) Socially - pot addicts tend to hang out with other pot addicts. The use of the drug starts defining their friendships. Old friends who do not smoke are drifted away from.

2) Behavioral/daily activities - pot addicts fall into rituals in which they need to smoke every day at specified events (like before each meal, or after work, for example).

3) Emotionally – this is the big one. People who smoke pot every day probably do not realize that they are actually medicating their feelings. What this means is that they are really not dealing with reality at all, because when they have natural emotions that occur throughout their life (such as being sad, scared, frustrated, angry, etc.) they simply end up medicating those feelings away by getting high.

This leads to emotional immaturity, because the person is no longer learning how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner. If they have smoked pot for a long time, and then try to go a few days without it, they are going to get very uncomfortable if they have to actually deal with any feelings that might come up. This is how dependence on marijuana can occur. It happens at the emotional level because people are using the drug to get high and escape from reality at the level of their emotions and feelings.

This last point can be a subtle idea that many pot addicts will dismiss at first, because of course they still do have feelings. What they will not realize is that they are not properly processing those feelings, and instead they are medicating them with their drug. There is a difference between actually feeling your feelings and processing them in a natural, healthy way versus feeling them for a short time and then medicating them away with a drug.


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  • Meg Eldridge

    Having had a few boyfriends who were big pot addicts, I have to disagree with your premise that pot addiction is only psychological and not physical. I have seen these men try to quit and they went through distinct physical withdrawal symptoms as well as horrible psychological symptoms. Anger, smelling of detoxification, hypertention, and many other symptoms. This is a very bad drug for those who smoke it all day long for many years of their lives.

  • robyn

    well, i have to agree that pot is a very addictive drug..but for other reasons. pot might not allow feelings to occur, but it also helps certain people with cancer, increase appetites, and helps you look at things in a different perspective. there aren’t just downfalls of the drug, and this is why i believe people continue to smoke it, because they can. it’s easy.

  • jesse

    I do it be cause i dont have a taste for beer plus you can smoke all you want and not be hungover

  • pat

    I am married to a pot addict. I have 2 sons (5 and 2 y.o. ) He has “ignored” me and the children for so long because he is impared so much of the time, that he has destroyed our family, and the children who adore him will suffer, because I am done and filing for divorce. This is a drug that destroys families, so take it seriously you pot users

  • http://n/a mark

    Sorry your husband’s an asshole.

  • pat

    My husband is not just an asshole. He is an addict. He avoided me, so he could just go to the basement and get high… I didn’t know that was what he was doing. I just thought he needed “space and privacy.” He said he avoided me, because I was “miserable” . And it was true, I was miserable because my husband avoided everything, conversations,watching tv with me,intimacy. He avoided anything stressful… couldn’t cope with marriage because it takes work, and the children take work. So he just got high, and I continued to feel lonely and “miserable”. He convinced me I was the problem. With the children, whom he loves very much, he is sluggish and slow to react, like a zoombie. So, if I leave them with him while I work, I have to pay for a babysitter because I am afraid they may get hurt, as he is not ever fully “present” and with it. I don’t want them to grow up thinking this is normal. They are 2 and 5, just babies. I didn’t know why he was like this, I felt distraught for so long… until I started spying on him. He escapes us and life to smoke pot, at least 3 times a day… so now I am furious. I thought it was my fault. This stuff, destroys families, please people, be CAREFUL, for me the pain is unbearable. I needed a husband, and the children needed a father. But this is over for us all!

  • ava

    I can totally relate. I was engaged to a pot addict. I finally got him into treatment but it just became a cycle of stopping and starting. He also convinced me I was miserable and guess what, I was..with him! I was happy to read that it could have only gotten worse especially if children were involved. However, considersing the steriod use I doubt children were an option.

  • nina

    i also can totally relate, my husband is a pot addict. If he does not have pot he is very moody and not pleasant to live with. He can not hold down a job nor does he have the drive to. with that said he doesnt have the drive to do anything except smoke pot. It is really sad because these addicts just dont see how much potential they really have. I know what i need to do but find it very heart breaking to do so. i have 3 children from a previous marriage and yet at times my current husband is good with the kids, he has very little patients most of the time. I keep thinking he will snap out of it and realize this is real life and hold his part as a husband and father but I am begining to think those expectations are unrealistic for a person as such. I fell in love with the man that i knew he could be but his pot addiction has taken over that man and has and will continue to ruin his life.

  • Deb

    My husband was a sometime pot smoker and over time the abuse became chronic. In addition to pot, he began drinking heavily, got on pain killers, and then meth. The combination pushed him over the edge. He filed for divorce, became abusive and eventually tried to kill me. He is now living with a woman who makes meth for him. I continue to live in fear as he stalks me even through I have a restraining order. He keeps stalling to get the divorce final. The only way he will stop is when the additions kill him.

  • Kim

    My fiance is a pot head. He smokes it everyday. He will not admit he is an addict. His life away from work is surrounded by pot. He smokes pot with people 30 years younger than him. If he is at home, he is high. We haven’t had sex in almost 3 years. I am tired of living like this. If he runs out of pot he is miserable. He gets angry and moody. Again, he will not admit that he is acting different while not on pot. Before I met him….many years ago, he was a cocaine addict. It destroyed his first marriage and his life. What’s the difference now? May be a little less expensive. I have a big problem and I don’t know how to get out.

  • dave

    Sounds like these pot heads are dealing with mental health issues that may have driven them to self-medicate. Pot will only cloud over these more serious problems and prevent them from finding help for the illness that is at the root of their problems,

  • andrew

    i to have come to relize pot has done nothing for me ive now smoked for 13yrs and am now trying to stop ive found out i get real moody and no fun to be around. for the longest time i used weed to calm me down help me eat. but then it never got me anywhere, so as of now march 3 2011 i am gunna get clean i dont want this addition to get in the middle of my new relationship i love my girlfriend so very much but she has seen the moody side of what i call a pot addition.

  • yolanda

    I was with a pot head for over a year, he quited but after 9 months he started smoking again behind my back, he confused all my life with lies after lies, making me angry, tell me that I am crazy, and I was becoming a crazy woman, because of him. I never been with anyone who takes any kind of drugs before, so i did know how to act in that situation, and I know now….WALK AWAY…they will never change unless they really want to…they will try to get you involves too..whatever you do in your life you are an addicted if you drink wine, you are an alhogolic, and so on…If you said something you are controlling his life, or trying to be his mother, and so and so..I am sure all of us deal with a drug addict knows exactly I am saying…they don’t want you around their families, friends, jobs, where they live and so…they said over and over I love you, but my life is not your business…how can my husband’s life can’t be my business..I was so frustated so angry, all the time, he was cheating lying, I am so happy now, I am back being me, the happy me..thanks

  • Chris

    I’m 22 and I am a huge pot head for about 6-7 years. I knew all along it was messing with my life but I loved smoking too much. It helped make me happy and get past my problems from real life. It helps you ignore reality for 2-3 hours while your high, and then when you come down life is miserable again. Not all pot heads are the same but it really depends on how you use the drug. For some this is a medicine that actually helps them live their life. As for other we just use it to get high and numb are feelings. I strongly believe for the normal person if you cant smoke two joints a year and you are craving more, you shouldn’t smoke at all because it will ruin your life. As for the addiction I know because I’ve tried to quit every day for 4 years. I really go to sleep thinking “OK” tomorrow I’m not going to smoke, but always fail because a whole day without pot has my mood go crazy…..
    I know I can do it though, I’ve failed so many times I really think I can do it. I’ve gone a few weeks sober and life does feel better, but when things go wrong you cant run to pot but should run to loved ones or work out. There are a lot of ways to reduce stress.

  • Tina

    I understand all of u with or have been w someone that smokes potmy husband also smokes heavy. I never realized pot was bad. Till i watched my husband start changing, he has always been a
    Worker n took care of me n our kids, but he quit his job wont look 4 new work. He sure will work 4 a bag of weed. We r almost homeless w no food an he still only cares bout pot. Im looking 4 a job, im glad to have experience in grooming. If hes out of pot hes so mean. The kids an i get yelled at all the time, he wont lift a finger to clean yard work or even getting up to change our babys diapper, he said thats y he has kids so they can do it all, i take em w me so nothing happens while im gone. Not to count his brother has moved in an im supporting him too. They both live breath n think weed. Im scared to even say something out load, as it is hes sop mean i feel like i hate him an even the thought of touching him as a couple makes me sick. I need to be the strong person i used to be an just leave but im,scared to go. Scared to stay

  • Anonymous

    Those who can perform to their full potential while “under the influence” should be allowed to do so. If a person feels that they need to be high in order to maintain a lifestyle that makes them happy who is to say that is wrong. It’s when that persons decision to get high starts effecting the ones around him that it becomes an issue. I’m not saying smoking weed in excess is not going to have negative effects I’m just making the point that those who smoke and ruin lives do so because they are weak. The drugs are not the primary problem in the lives of these individuals they just contribute..

  • Anonymous

    If you are a single adult and you want to abuse your body, I suppose you have that right. However, if you are married with children and your spouse has repeatedly implored you to stop smoking pot because it is destroying the family unit, then you have a responsibility not only to yourself, but to your spouse and children. The negative impact on the family unit is devastating. The mood swings, the happiness from drugs is distinct from a true happiness from life. It is painful to live with someone who finds their joy from marijuana and not from family. It is a sexual turn-off to be around someone who is high all the time; therefore the sexual, emotional and spiritual intimacy becomes buried in marijuana ashes. The inevitable result is a total loss of love altogether. My opinion: it is just not worth it.

  • Sandy

    Thank you all for such great information for me. I now know it’s not use me going crazy. I am also living with someone who I’v known for 20 something years and never knew how much he smoked until after I moved in. I am on the edge and about ready to move out. He says he loves me what why do this to our relationship? He has smoked for years. Everything is my fault. He also gives silent treatments that can last 2-3 days! That’s really bad for the receiver.

  • SJM

    Well, the way I see it after reading everyone’s post is there’s a lot of unhappy people due to their mate’s choosing drugs over them. Unfortunately, there’s so many people who constantly want to escape into their make-believe world of no problems with their drugs. It’s simply what I call immaturity – these people will never grow up. If you want to deal with a child your entire adult life, then stay with these people. If you want someone who will be there for you, someone to truly share your life with, then you must make the choice to move on. Your mates will not change and you will continue to resent them more each day and it’s a terrible situation for a child to be in. In the long run, your children will respect you more if you protect them and get them out of this. You may not realize it now, but your relationship with your children after they grow up is much longer and so valuable – you must nurture them now so you can have that. Get the grown-up ‘kids’ out of your lives and especially out of your children’s lives – you will be forever grateful in the end. Why go through hell now when you can live in peace and teach your children the same thing. This is a no-brainer. YOU can make it happen – it’s YOUR life! Work on YOU and NO ONE is worth making YOU and your wonderful children UNHAPPY. Get out!!!!

  • annonymous

    I have been married to my husband for 19 years. He is a daily pot smoker. All day in fact. He holds down a job and is a wonderful father but I’ve reached a point where I just can’t take it anymore. He seems depressed and unmotivated and could be doing so much more with his life. I realize that his smoking has made me depressed because he is really not completely present. When I talk about my feelings he tells me I am imagining things, that I am over emotional…he puts it all on me and won’t even look at the fact that it could be him that is making me depressed. I asked him to quit two weeks ago and he did. I am not sure it we will continue to stay off it but I sure hope so. I agree so much with Dave’s post on Feb 2nd. It clouds more serious problems. I think my husband is depressed and he is self medicating instead of confronting his depression. It is not a drug to be taken lightly.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds like many Wives are neglected by Husbands who rather smoke Pot. To them all, I apologize for what you’ve gone through. Consider that if it wasn’t Marijuana it would likely be Alcohol instead. Rather than be mad anytime your spouse uses, perhaps consider asking for the use to be recreational and not habitual. If there is a serious issue going on it is not the time to smoke pot. You deserve to have your feelings and thoughts heard by a rational, sober person.

    I rarely drink, maybe 10 times a year, and that is an honest answer. I only use weed if my back is hurting or I need help relaxing. I almost became addicted to prescription drugs once and please understand Marijuana is a much safer alternative. Banning it because your husband is an asshole would hurt a lot of really good people. If used in moderation and ALWAYS away from children, a person’s personality and health should not be affected.

    Again, to all those who have been abused by an addict of any substance, I am so sorry that happened to you. To those who are abusing a substance and your family is calling you out on it LISTEN, these are people you love and they deserve your FULL ATTENTION and RESPECT.

    -A deeply compassionate and caring husband of the most wonderful woman on Earth.

  • Anonymous

    I started smoking probably 2 years ago. At first it was only on the weekends and then all of the sudden I was smoking on Thursday nights because it was almost the weekend. Now I find myself smoking every day and on the weekends several times during the day. I have a full time job and a small business and I’m able to function but last night I realized that I could not stop myself from smoking. This started to scare me so I’m thinking I’m going to try to not smoke tonight and take it one day/night at a time. I know I will probably be miserable for the next few days but it is getting expensive as well as I know I could be so much more sucessful if I was able to quit completely.

  • Jeff

    My situation is a bit different…My wife is the pot addict in the family. She smokes 4 times a day every day…Personally I can take it or leave it, so I might partake 2-3 times a week if the mood and opportunity strikes me…what makes my situation different is my wife suffers from emotional and physical pain…as a child she was abandoned by her mother at the age of 3 and left in a home with an uncle who violently molested for about 5 years…this lead to severe emotional trauma and a childhood which lead to an adult life of rapes, abuse and promiscuity…the acting out of a teenager also lead to several auto accidents in which she seriously damaged her spine and neck…she then lost her eye site at the age of 19 to a disease that has left her legally blind…Leaving much out, the point here is that she is an emotional and physical wreck…she is also a beautiful and wonderful person who does her best daily to cope…we had therapy for 10 years early in our marriage to help both and I deal with our childhood issues, angers, parenting differences etc…the therapist agreed that unfortunately pot may be the best thing for her, as her emotional and physical wounds are so deep, conventional treatments have had little effect…one therapist even “fired her” because she felt it was a waste of money, because none of the emotional counseling was sticking and she would revert back to “bad behavior” literally minutes after leaving the therapy session, leaving a constant rehashing of issues that I thought had been worked out in therapy…So in our case, pot has been a blessing for her, as it allows her to function daily at an acceptable level…that being said, I believe I bring balance to this family in terms of boundaries and discipline and trying to provide a balanced upbringing for our kids…if it were not for the kids, I would have left long ago, but I stay in this marriage in which I would say I am 50% satisfied to protect our children from the emotional issues discussed above and leaving them in the hands of an addict…A big part of me can’t wait for them to get a bit older so I can move on…Living with an addict is an emotional drain regardless of what the drug of choice is!

  • yumyumshisha

    don’t be afraid to leave

  • atinadjb

    I have been dating a pot head for 3 yrs now. I grew up around family members doing it. I hate the smell of it. I then vowed to never be with anyone that does it. but then I met this great guy. He moved in with me after two yrs and omg, he is a POT head. He’s moody, wishy washy, everytime there is conflict he runs away and smokes. In the beginning he was respectfull by doing it outside in back yard. Now he does it in the garage, in the house if me and my kids go somewhere and come back the entire house is smoked up, he even has the guts to smoke in my car if he borrows it. He is very forgetfull. He leaves this stuff out forgeting to put it up. I can’t take this anymore. One time I had him come to my job to bring something to me and he reaaaaaked of it. The smell was still in the building after he left. I can’t see myself marrying this person.

  • atinadjb

    My question to everyone is. I am raising to God fearing youn ladies. How do I tell them to DON’T DO DRUGS and the guy that I am with does.

  • Anonymous

    it seems I am the one that needs help my husband lost his job 2 years ago
    he started smoking pot he smokes every day he tells me i should take action I love
    Him and don’t know what to do next ?