This is a common question many people are currently asking and realizing to quit smoking weed is a challenging feat.
In the addiction field we are noticing more frequently that young adults are struggling more often with the question of how to quit smoking weed than in the past. But first, let’s look at the statistics.
Weed Addiction Statistics
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse weed has been a growing problem for many individuals in Canada. These numbers are likely higher as many may feel uncomfortable giving an honest report on substance use.
2,3 Million People Use Marijuana in Canada.
1/4 Million Number of People Who Use It Daily Are Aged 12 – 17.
Annual Number of Arrests for All Offences Concerning Illegal Drugs: 90,000
You should ask yourself how you can make a positive change by noticing that a substance may harm your life. It is often much more challenging than we expect to reduce or stop using any type of substance. Since it becomes habitual, dependency can develop over time. Your mind begins to expect certain substances, specifically at certain times of day, with certain people and in certain environments. For example, you may have a close friend who you always smoke weed with you and when you see him/her – you automatically crave weed. This is called conditioning. That being said, if you are reading this article you have likely already attempted to quit smoking weed or at least are preparing yourself to do so.
Below we have outlined steps you can take into consideration in this process.
Quitting Smoking Weed Gradually
Quitting smoking weed could be challenging as you might experience cannabis withdrawal effects. There will be days that are difficult to stick to the outlined plan of weed reduction. The following would be factors that can contribute to it being more difficult:
- Experiencing intense emotions: When you experience extreme happiness, sadness or anger, you are more likely at risk for increasing your weed use. Hence, a higher likelihood of relapsing back to higher substance use.
- Interpersonal conflicts: If you have a fight with your girlfriend/boyfriend, you have an issue with a coworker, you are going to be more likely to return to higher substance use. When we have relationship issues, we often turn to substances for self-soothing.
- Environmental factors: If you go to a party, see friends who smoke weed, go to your favourite park where you used to smoke – your mind will automatically be triggered to thinking of smoking. You will be ‘cued’ into wanting to use even though you have set out your goals.
- Social support: If all of your friends, your partner and family engage in smoking weed, this is going to be very difficult. If your loved ones are not encouraging you to quit, this will require some work around communicating about your desire to change and what you need from them. If your social network is supportive – still explain to them what you may need.
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Quitting Weed Gradually – Step by Step
SMART Action Plan to Quit Smoking Weed
There are 5 important guidelines for sticking to any goal – they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, time-specific and realistic. When making your action plan, make sure that all of these aspects are considered. Here is an example of a plan using the SMART guidelines:
- Specifically: I will stop smoking weed completely in the next 6 months.
- Measurable: I currently smoke 1 gram every day. My goal is reduce this to 0.5 grams in the first month, in second month cut this down to every other day, in month 3 cut this down to 0.25 grams per day, then in month 4 to every other day, in month 4 cut down to 2 days per week and month 5 to 1 day per week.
- Realistic: I realize it will be difficult for me to stick to this plan because my friends all smoke weed around me. I realize I will need to either talk to my friends about not smoking around me for a period of time or I will reduce the amount of time I spend with them.
- Achievable: I believe it is attainable for me to reduce my weed intake on this gradual plan for next 6 months. It would be unattainable for me to quit weed cold turkey.
- Time-specific: I have set out this schedule and will stick to this plan. I will review it at the end of each month and see if it needs to be adjusted.
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Quitting Weed Cold Turkey
You may not want to quit smoking weed on a gradual basis or you may need to quit immediately for many reasons (work, relationships, school, etc). You may be the type of person who does things ‘all or nothing’ and it may work best for you to cut it out completely. Here are some ways to do this:
- Prepare yourself. Look at what ‘function’ does marijuana currently fill? Ask yourself and look into what are other ways to fill that function? For example – if weed helps you to fall asleep – look into different ways of how you can help yourself sleep. You can look up ‘sleep hygiene’ and start practicing these tactics right away.
- Let people know. You may want to ‘just stop’ and tell everyone later – but this is often hard. By telling people, it will keep you accountable, it will let people know not to offer it to you and you can get social support with your goal.
- Create a set plan for how you will cope with a desire to relapse. Make a safety plan that you can use instead of returning to weed. For example – have a supportive friend you can call to help distract you.
- Distract yourself – it may help to stay busy, to avoid boredom (major trigger for many people) and to keep yourself from focusing on weed.
- Remove the substance – Get rid of all weed and weed paraphernalia you own. Delete your weed dealer’s phone number (and block it if possible). Remove the ‘option’ for yourself as much as possible.
- Change your routines. As mentioned earlier – we become conditioned to want substances based on the environment. If you normally smoke weed every day with your girlfriend on the balcony at 9pm, change this routine. Ask her to watch a movie inside with you at that time and request her to not smoke in front of you.
- Don’t give up – it is normal to have slips. If you quit cold turkey and have a slip, do not tell yourself that you are incapable – remind yourself this is difficult and work through how the slip happened. Identify what let to the slip and adjust your skills/goals to make sure it does not reoccur.
How to Quit Weed (When Nothing Seems to Have Worked)
In the case that you have tried all of the options above and nothing seems to be working, there are a few more options you can try:
- Speak to a professional A therapist can be very helpful in working through what makes it so challenging for you personally to give up weed.
- Addiction Counselling and outpatient groups There are addiction centres that offer groups on outpatient basis that teach you how to quit using substances.
- Drug rehab centers if you have tried everything and need more help, residential treatment is likely the best option.
More and more people are coming into our addiction treatment centres looking for how to quit smoking weed. It is easy to say giving up weed “should be simple” but this is not always the case. Weed can become a very difficult habit to break and residential treatment centres offer individualized programs designed to assist in such a goal. For many people there needs to be an absolute barrier between themselves and the substance in order to quit, this is where residential care comes into place.
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