Why I Quit Smoking Weed
By Natty Soltesz

Let me just start by saying that in telling you my reasons for abstaining from pot, I have no desire to come across as pious and judgmental to those who do smoke (i.e., all of my friends). I haven't smoked weed in over 13 months.

To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely clear on my reasons for giving it up, so to ruminate on the subject is beneficial for me. Plus I hate not being able to back myself up when I try to explain it to my pothead friends, who invariably act as though I'm the one with the problem.

I quit smoking weed because my therapist suggested it, and I was open and willing to try anything to change my life at that point, as miserable of a person as I was. Was I brainwashed into thinking pot was bad for me? I don't know. Was I brainwashed into thinking pot was good for me? It's irrelevant.

Weed was always a problem for me. When I was getting high, I preferred to smoke by myself, but even then it had the positive and negative quality of taking me outside of my own mind-sending me into ever-spiraling thought loops of self-hatred masked as introspection ("I should be more spontaneous.I'm not as fun and friendly as (blank) is. When I go out tonight, I'll be really entertaining and lively.God I hate myself..." And so on).

Smoking with others made me even worse, and I did it a lot. Near the end of my pot-smoking career I was crashing at a friend's apartment. I would come home first and smoke myself up. Then my friend would come home and smoke me up. Then his girlfriend would come home and we'd smoke four more times. By midnight I'd be in a complete haze, watching 'American Justice' on the TiVo and lamenting all the things I didn't get done.

I'd wake up the next morning, still high, struggling to maintain a semi-clear head before just breaking down and smoking up, repeating the process all over again.

Let's face it: pothead=addict. I was an addict. People want to pretend like weed isn't addictive. They constantly say things like "I'm trying to cut down," but they never quit. If that isn't addictive, I don't know what is.

Another common excuse is that weed is better than alcohol, the lesser of two evils. Well, sure it is, but fuck that shit. As shitty and horrible as the world is, there is still life to be lived, and drugs are but one facet of experience. Smoke in high school, trip in college, whatever. Drugs are fine to play around with. But why get high all of the time? What are you adding to your everyday experience? Are you expanding your mind? Soothing your mind? Or are you just tuning out because you're not ready to face your shit?

I realize it's a rhetorical question. I also realize that I've ignored my own intentions and have become pious and judgmental.

So going back to my original point, I suppose it would be easier to explain why I quit smoking weed by telling you the reasons I started smoking weed. I smoked because it gave me something to do. Because it's what I did when I was with my friends-often because it gave me a reason to get together with my friends ("Wanna come over my place, smoke a bowl?").

I smoked because I was in school and the thought of having to make something out of my life in the next few years and beyond scared the living shit out of me ("What do you do, besides work at your job? What means something to you?").

I smoked because I was bored. I still get bored sober, but at least I have the presence of mind to do something-write, read-if I want to, and not have to battle the desire to just get high and forget.

People ask me if my head is clearer now that I don't smoke weed. I can't really say that. I definitely feel like I know myself a lot better, and I don't have a substance to blame if I feel fuzzy or forgetful. It frees things up. It's one less thing I have to deal with (finding it, buying it, wanting to be free of it).

People also ask me if I get more done. It's true that I do. This essay, for example. I couldn't sustain a thought for more than two sentences when I was getting high. Quitting pot forced a change in me. I started to respect myself a lot more.

There are certain things I miss about smoking weed. Most of all is the romanticism of it. To be spending a dusky summer evening cruising back roads, smoking a joint.very seductive. Weed still has a very strong hold on my subconscious.

But at least I'm aware of it. I can cruise the back roads in my mind, if I want to. It may be hard for you to swallow, but I'm more present when I'm virtually there in my head, than when I'm actually there, and out of my head.

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