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Addiction & Mind


Posted by: Michael

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On October 17, 2018, the recreational use of cannabis became legal in Canada. The only other country in the world that has made such a massive change to long-standing drug laws is Uruguay. This is unfamiliar territory for everyone, as no one really knows what the effects will be upon our families, our workplaces, our economy, and our crime rates. 
If you are Canadian, and are still not aware of your rights and responsibilities from this change in legislation, you are obligated to get educated immediately. Link to the Government of Canada website for important details HERE.
Everyone has their own opinion about cannabis. This article is about testing those opinions, because sometimes, a point of view is based on a very small aspect of the truth while ignoring the rest of the story.
Is cannabis an addictive drug? If you smoke weed, does that make you a drug addict? These are not the real questions. Some people can stop at one drink, while others keep drinking until they are blacked out or vomiting. Some people can enjoy one cookie, while others eat the entire bag. The substance that you use is not the problem. The reasons why you need to use something are the real problem.
If you are asking yourself if you are addicted to cannabis, then it is time to test some opinions and call out some delusion.
Delusion: Cannabis is not as bad as alcohol, because as a drinker I was a menace, as a pot smoker I am totally laid back.
Reality: People who make this argument usually point to the evidence that an alcoholic can drink themselves to death, but a pothead can never smoke themselves to death. Or that an alcoholic may drunkenly beat his wife and children, but a pothead would never do that. The reality is that when you are using a substance (every day, or almost every day) to alter your state or your mood, then you do not have an ability to cope with the ups and downs of life. It does not matter if you use alcohol, cannabis, heroin, meth, sugar, video games, gambling, sex, or Facebook. Using disconnects you from reality and from facing life. 
Delusion: I can still drive perfectly well when I’m high.
Reality: People who have this opinion may have much to say about the different strains of cannabis and their varying effects. They usually claim that indica strains are physically relaxing, while sativa strains are mentally stimulating, and that weed does not impair their ability to drive in the same way that alcohol does. The reality is that if you are high on cannabis, then you are intoxicated, and your physical motor function, your cognitive ability, and your hand-eye coordination are impaired. You cannot drive perfectly well. You will eventually kill someone, and ruin a family’s life, and ruin yours too. So just don’t.
Delusion: Cannabis is not a gateway drug.
Reality: People who claim this always know someone that uses weed and nothing else, and has always been this way, from age 12 to age 60, and so cannabis is clearly not a gateway drug. The reality is that most people who use cannabis like the feeling of being high, and after enough times being high on weed, you will seek out other drugs to see what these feel like. 
The substance that you use is not the problem. Which leads us to the real question.
The real question is, “Why do I feel the drive to use something and escape my reality?”
It does not matter if you use cannabis, alcohol, heroin, meth, sugar, video games, gambling, sex, or Facebook. What matters is that you are using chemicals or processes to hide from troubles, to avoid pain of loneliness or rejection, to distract from fear and uncertainty, or to numb the memory of trauma.
Again, we must call out the delusion.
Delusion: I can avoid the discomfort of feeling pain.
Reality: If you are feeling uncomfortable, afraid, lost, or alone, it is very easy to spike yourself with dopamine, or numb out to oblivion. There are ten thousand ways to get high, and most of us have trained ourselves to expect instant gratification. The reality is that any pain you feel cannot be altered, only delayed, and when the high wears off, the pain is still there. The pain within is the real problem, and will drive your using of one drug, and another, and another, until you face that pain, and resolve it.  
Delusion: This is just how I relax.
Reality: Instead of the word “relax”, test out a few other words to see what you’re really doing. Test out: distract, disconnect, detach, avoid, hide, bury, numb. These are the signature traits of any addiction, mild or extreme, to any chemical or any process. These behaviours indicate that there is something in your experience of reality that you cannot face, and that you will continue using until you deal with it.
Delusion: Everyone does it.
Reality: It might seem like everyone you know is smoking weed — or using something. The reality is that this is the circle of people you know right now, or the season of life that you are living. There are many people who understand that the high of using drugs is only the surface layer of a moment. A drug high can bring feelings of pleasure, relief, certainty, belonging, but then it wears off, and so you want to use again. Drugs induce feelings. They seem real on the outside, but inside they are empty. There are people who understand that drug-altered states are manufactured and artificial, and that true happiness and fulfillment must be built. Not smoked. 
Indeed, our world is changing, and no one really knows what the future holds for us. The most important thing to remember is that none of us are alone. If we face a national issue about new drug laws, or if you face a personal issue like addiction, we can find a way through it together. Speak up. Ask questions. We are listening. 

Michael is the Lead Sobriety Coach and Head Blogger of Addiction Reality.