Helping Someone to Stop Smoking Weed

Do you have a friend or family member who is continuously smoking marijuana? Are you the parent with a child who seems to rely on weed to get them through the day? Is it possible to help a person stop smoking weed?

Like with any drug, the chemical composition makes it difficult for a person to stop once they have developed a dependence on the substance. It can seem very true to the user that they need weed every day to cope with life or to feel “normal.” Despite these fixed ways of thinking, marijuana users can recover the ability to think clearly, enjoy life and achieve goals again without the use of weed.

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Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Part of the difficulty in stopping Marijuana use is its desired effects. However, there are positive and negative effects. Weed use creates a sense of euphoria, sedation, lethargy, and, eventually, a feeling of apathy that is completely synthetic.

With high doses or chronic use, a person can suffer memory loss, difficulty paying attention, and even panic attacks and hallucinations. People may feel like their senses are sharper on weed. The loss of inhibitions combined with poor judgment that commonly occurs when influenced by weed brings about decisions with negative consequences.

Of course, many people know that weed use results in a loss of coordination that can seem funny at the time. Driving under the influence results in slow reaction time and accidents. Marijuana is well known for causing the “munchies” – increased appetite for snack foods, especially sweets. Marijuana smokers normally have bloodshot eyes and dry mouth.

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The Use of High-Potency Weed

What many people do not know is that extended weed use can result in what has been termed “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.” 

It means that the use of high-potency weed can cause people severe, excruciating abdominal pain and violent vomiting that continues for a long period. 

In fact, the only temporary relief seems to come from spending hours in a hot shower or bath.

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If a person does not know that the cause of this problem is their weed consumption, they may continue using more weed. The solution is to stop using weed. 

Doctors are slowly becoming aware of the cause of this problem and are more likely to ask if the person suffering from it uses cannabis.

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Problems for Students in Particular

Marijuana abuse is especially popular among young people. A student should be learning and planning careers. But marijuana abuse may be sapping their ability to focus, learn, think logically, and retain what they have learned. In addition, a person who chronically abuses this drug very often suffers a loss of motivation.

Educational goals may become uninteresting, and the lethargy and lack of focus resulting from abuse make it hard to follow through on assignments, etc. Statistically, more young people receive lower grades when they habitually smoke weed. One study showed that those who had been heavy users completed college less often and had lower incomes after leaving college.

So these points cover what occurs when a person you care about is using weed and what the negative effects of this drug can be. You may already have been aware of some of these problems but didn’t know how to help.

How Can You Reach Out and Offer Help?

If a person feels that using marijuana is making their life better, you will have a hard time convincing them to stop. You may have to work with them a bit more to remind them of the way things were before they began to rely on marijuana. You can find the reason they started. Get the person to tell you the positive and negative aspects of weed use for them. Help the person tell you by comparing the way things are now with earlier times. Specifically, they might have talked to you about their plans and aspirations that you can remind them of without pointing fingers.

Engage in good conversation with the person. You can talk about the dreams they gave up and how they can still reach those if they quit cannabis use with your help. These earlier dreams and enthusiasms are the key to helping many people envision a new life without mind-altering substances. If you get their interest again, you must move quickly to connect the person to a resource for detox and rehab.

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Drug Induced Psychosis

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Once On Board, the Next Step

Once the person is on board, you will have to work with them to stop using weed. They should stay away from drug-using and drug-selling friends. Most people easily fall back into drug abuse when hanging out with people still involved in the substance-using habit.

The withdrawal symptoms they may encounter include:

  • Anger, tension, irritability, restlessness, depression
  • Chills, stomach pains, shaking, sweating
  • Decreased appetite, sleep difficulties, bad dreams, nausea

These symptoms are not normally severe, but they may need help resisting the cravings that will probably last for days, weeks, and, on occasion, months. Clearly set positive goals. And the support of sober family and friends can help them stay on a more creative path. Nutritional supplementation will greatly help them recover energy and interest in life and help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

What if They Can’t Seem to Quit?

At this writing, 17% of Canadians aged 16 and older abused marijuana in the last year. In numbers, that’s 6.9 million. A steady user can drown in the fog that substance use brings. And they can’t quit when they try. In this case, a residential treatment program is the answer. These services help a person build a new sober life and give them the skills to maintain sobriety. There exists a wide range of resources across the country.

During the detox phase, prescription medication can be part of the treatment program. Once able to do counselling, you should support a drug-free program. Again, nutritional supplements will help a person regain energy and build physical health.

If you are trying to help a person stop smoking weed, you should find out about available resources to treat drug and alcohol abuse. If they can’t stop using the drug on their own, they need professional help from an effective treatment program.

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Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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