Chasing The Scream’. Thank you for helping to spread the message of that book – that we need to stop shaming and punishing people with addiction problems, and start loving them. Johanna Hari
addictions that are wrecking our ability to pay attention
A systematic review published today in the scientific journal Addiction has found that cannabis use leads to acute cognitive impairments that may continue beyond the period of intoxication.
This Canadian-led meta-review (review of reviews) merged the findings of 10 meta-analyses representing more than 43,000 participants.
The study found that cannabis intoxication leads to small to moderate cognitive impairments in areas including:
“Our study enabled us to highlight several areas of cognition impaired by cannabis use, including problems concentrating and difficulties remembering and learning, which may have considerable impact on users’ daily lives,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Alexandre Dumais, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal.
The use of cannabis which I will refer to as weed is always an interesting topic as there are such differing views on whether weed is beneficial for health, or leads to cognitive impairments, if it should be made illegal all around the world or used only for medical purposes.
Whatever side of the fence you sit on and whatever your view is on smoking weed, it is important to remember that too much of anything is never a good thing and just like any other substance, when one person in a couple chooses to smoke weed regularly or heavily at times, it can create problems. This is what I am going to be sharing more on today. As well as what to do if you find yourself addicted to weed or in a relationship with someone who is smoking so much weed it is hurting them and your connection.
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“1-in-6 people who start using weed before the age of 18 can become addicted [and] 1-in-10 adults who use weed can become addicted.”
This highlights how hard it can be for someone to regulate their weed consumption without the right support. I help many people involved in substance abuse on a weekly basis. Some want to stop entirely and others want to desire and want it less, control it and be an occasional social user. My approach is to not only focus on the relationship with the substance, although that is essential, but also explore the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and triggers that built the habit and or other habits. Cross addictions where a person swaps one addiction with another are also very common, unless you address the causes things just move. Do check out my podcast on black and white, all or nothing thinking as this is similar also.
This podcast and all that I share is created with one theme in mind in line with the work of Johan Hari “we need to stop shaming and punishing people with addiction problems, and start loving them.”
Let’s be honest whether drugs or alcohol, sugar, chocolate or cheese we consume things because we enjoy them, they feel or taste good. We keep then continue them despite perhaps negative consequences because we convince ourselves it’s ok, it’s healthy, it’s not that bad or just say we will deal with it another day. It’s the excuses we make to ourselves that start to lead to a problem and an addiction forming. You see when you tell your mind something again and again over time it will start to tell it back to you. For example “I need a joint” “Smoking makes me happy” I need it to relax, sleep, concentrate, once you tell yourself this repeatedly it will start to tell you it back. Out of nowhere your be working and doing some errands and your mind will say to you have a smoke, you need it, deserve it, etc etc I do hypnotherapy for people for this all the time and not only for weed addiction, also for alcohol, food and porn problems.
One of the biggest and growing reasons for smoking weed is treatment of medical conditions. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine carried out a review on thousands of studies that researched the impact of smoking weed on chronic illnesses and the results showed that weed was effective in reducing chronic pain.
I want to point out that I am not here to say whether smoking weed is good or bad, there is so much research on this subject and quite frankly I don’t have the time or interest to go into it all. I’m sharing how it affects relationships and people when they lose control and tips to help.
One couple in their mid-thirties I supported through the impact of weed on their relationship were dealing with health struggles too. The husband was in the military and did not believe in any form of drugs whatsoever, and sadly his wife had MS and was smoking weed daily to manage her symptoms. Whilst her husband clearly loved her, and wanted her to feel comfortable, he was so concerned about her being in touch with drug dealers and what would happen if his work, family or friends found out. He also worried of potential side effects that could show up when he was working away and not able to help. Weed became a really big source of conflict for the couple.
As with other habits, couples are more lenient or accepting of any habits in the beginning of a relationship when the honeymoon phase is in full swing. However, as time goes on and the relationship becomes more serious, the impact of smoking weed can be hard to ignore.
One couple living between Dubai and Abu Dhabi didn’t smoke at all when in the country but when they went on holiday the husband insisted on smoking weed every day. The wife Gina would complain that her husband was moody when he wasn’t smoking and overly affectionate, kind and happy when he was on it. His ups and downs made it difficult for her to connect to him, even when he was happy she felt like they were on different planets. Because she didn’t feel he was really present and listening to her. He would argue it’s a treat, a holiday thing and he doesn’t smoke day to day, she just wanted a holiday without it but he didn’t agree. He felt it was his right to get high when on a break. His wife was struggling because weed was affecting his mood so when they were on holiday, she wouldn’t know what mood he would be in, he would switch from happy, kind, caring and funny when high, and then moody, aggressive and mean when he feared he couldn’t smoke any weed.
Another couple I worked with in the US also found that weed smoking impacted their holidays Where a partner will only pick places where it is legal and it limits the choices. This can make holidays meant to be a topic and source of pleasure seem like a burden and chore to discuss and participate in.
Anxiety is a common reason people form a weed addiction. If people are addicted to weed because they believe it calms them, makes them a better person to be around, more likeable, more talkative, more socialable then they convince themselves over time that they need weed to live. When people do my 3 day breakthrough program to release the past and form new habits, part of the process its to take back control of their thoughts, feelings and behavior, so they can be the person they are on weed, on nothing but water and air J
Some smoke weed to escape, perhaps avoid thinking about negative relationships, feeling worried, inadequate, stressed, lonely, inferior and insecure.
Being with someone who smokes weed everyday is a big turn off for the many I have worked with. Some are put off by the smell, some find it very unattractive that the person cannot go through life without using a drug to calm them, some are concerned that they let their teenage children smoke, despite the health studies that young people are more at risk. One man was considering divorce after only 9 months of marriage, as his wife smoked more and more and said that it was an aid and cure for her anxiety. He wanted her to diet and exercise, find healthy alternatives and this divide between his lifestyle and hers was causing a strain.
A long with anxiety – stress is also a factor that pushes a person to smoke weed. I had one couple whose marriage was on the brink of ending because the husband had been smoking weed daily and his wife was feeling like their connection was lost. Although her husband was physically present, he was not really there when he smoked weed and she worried about the impact this would have on their two kids. Although he had promised to cut back on multiple occasions, he never stuck to his promises, however, the final straw was when he was high on their son’s birthday. She came to me for support to work out whether she was codependent, whether she should stay in her marriage or get a divorce. The breakthrough program helped her to feel more confident in herself, to gain clarity on what to do to protect her children and make some choices on her marriage. I cannot and would not want to tell someone what to do with something as important as their family and marriage, but I guided her to get the answers from within and then we developed the strategy to move forward. For her it was a one year plan to save her marriage, to focus both on herself and her children, to help her husband with his addiction only if he wanted the help and if he didn’t and if nothing changed in a year of her trying she would move forward in a different way. Luckily her confidence, unwillingness to enable her husband anymore things shifted. He then did the breakthrough program to be an occasional smoker and release the negative thoughts he had about himself and resentments towards some family members. Now they are the happiest they have ever been.
I was 18 when I first experienced the danger of regular weed smoking for some people. One of my best friends at college, who I used to hang around with every day suddenly changed so much with smoking. He was so so bright, taking 4 A Levels in science and maths. He loved studying and talking about psychics in our lunch breaks but in a funny enterainting way. All of a sudden stopped attending college, so weird I called him and he was short, just said he will come back next week. He missed more and more of college and then had to drop out. He restarted and eventually got kicked out for not attending, he just would smoke and then have no desire to do anything. It affected his productivity and energy levels. The weed in his case was not only to blame, he came from a violent home where his dad was physically abusive to his mum, him and his brother. He saw his dad beating his mum from an early age and his mum was amazing, the most friendly, loving, kind mum you could hope for, we all enjoyed chatting to her. He found that weed helped him escape the stress at home, the release of pressure and the quietienng and calming of his mind. Like most people he thought he could control it, but it ended up controlling him. He then ran out of money as he lost both his jobs at the bar and as a chef part-time for not showing up. So sad, I felt like I had lost my best friend, but he was not ready to address it, so very little I could do.
Lack of energy from weed smoking can happen with household chores also and parenting responsibilities if weed affects a person in a way that makes them not want to do anything. Caroline and her husband came to me for support for this because she found her husband lazy. He didn’t want to leave the house, after smoking he just wanted to sit in front of the TV all day apart from working. He did it to help with his depression but Caroline was upset that he didn’t see that weed smoking was not his friend. In some couples bills can go unpaid, going out to see friends or family is a chore and the effort required to maintain a loving relationship doesn’t happen, so the couple drift apart. In some cases end up living separate lives.
Additionally, studies have highlighted how weed can impact a person’s emotional intelligence when smoked over long periods of time – meaning they are unable to respond to their partner’s emotional needs and will struggle to show emotion too. As well cognitive impairments but as I mentioned if you are interested in this, best to do your own research. I am not here to show any scientific facts.
Four other impacts of weed smoking I do want to mention before I go into some tips are libido, finances, weight gain and link to eating disorders and it being illegal in certain places can cause more conflict and issues for individuals and couples.
Sadly libido is heavily affected by weed smoking, many individuals and couples I have supported over the years have shared this. Both the smoking, numbing and munching away interfere with the desire, passion and intimacy life. It’s important to have days off to address this. For most people a healthy sex life is what defines a romantic relationship J
Let’s talk about finances first. Smoking weed (depending on how much a person smokes) can have financial implications. If a partner is spending money buying weed, it can leave the other person feeling like that is a waste of money that could be put to better use to benefit the family house – for example, paying off a mortgage, children’s expenses, going on holiday or buying a new car.
Many people also gain a lot of weight smoking weed, not all of course, but it can go hand in hand with eating disorders. Where a person munches away and doesn’t move and ends up piling on the pounds, then they hate the way they look and this makes them isolate and smoke and eat more to stuff down the unhappiness and frustration. The good news, is there is a way out. If the person is determined to stop, wanting to make a real change, sees it is holding them back in many ways there are certain steps to freedom, confidence and feeling in control.
If you can resonate with any of what I have shared so far, there are a few things you or your partner can do to reduce the impact of weed on a relationship and how to find the middle ground when weed is pushing you and your partner further apart.
If you are the person who smokes weed it is important that you are able to regain control of your habits and the emotional triggers that are the driving force behind your need to smoke weed. In order to do this you can –
If it’s got to a point where you are avoiding others, lack self-esteem and confidence, have started lying to hide your habit and are no longer in control of your life know that you can get free of the destructive cycle.