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Overcoming drug addiction.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


I receive a lot of email every day and, as expected, most of the emails are from people who want to lose fat and/or gain muscle. Apart from that, the most common topics I see on a regular basis are substance abuse and addiction. I’ve always been very open and honest about my past, and I’ve never shied away from discussing my own substance abuse problems, and how I managed to overcome them.

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to my health and weight problems, I was also a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker and I smoked pot pretty much all day, every day. I also experimented with harder drugs over the years.

The reason I’m thinking about this subject this morning is because in a couple of weeks (March 6th), it will be 4 years since I quit smoking marijuana. Late February 2003, probably around the 25th, is when I decided that I was going to quit drugs forever.

First, I should mention that I smoked my last cigarette on October 31, 2000. I was smoking 3 packs per day when I quit, and I gave them up cold turkey after over a decade of smoking (and a handful of previous attempts to quit). It was very difficult, but I was determined to give them up. Somehow I did it, but at the time I still could not muster what it would eventually take to stop smoking weed.

Many people seem to be able to use pot recreationally (a few times per month) with no problem. I was never like that. If pot was in the house (and, for well over a decade, it always was) I was smoking it. I used to be proud of myself if I could hold out until 10:00 AM before loading my first bowl. I remember keeping weed in my car so I could smoke it on the way to work. I’d smoke it in my car on breaks and over lunch (often on the way to a bar). I’d try to save enough to have some on the way home from work. It’s a miracle that I never got caught – or worse. I knew I had a huge problem, but I could not stand the feeling of not being stoned. On the very rare occasion that I ran out of pot and could not immediately get more, I thought of nothing else. It completely consumed me. “Jonesing” was the one thing I dreaded most in my life at the time. How sad and pathetic is that?

Now, I realize that some of you are thinking “It’s weed – not heroin – what are you talking about?!” Listen, you may not understand, but you can bet the farm that hundreds of chronics were knowingly nodding their heads as they read that last paragraph. Weed may not be physically addictive, but for some of us the psychological addiction is amazingly powerful. Giving up weed was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It required a tremendous amount of willpower and faith in myself.

I stopped smoking weed on March 6, 2003. Astute readers may have noticed that was a full two months after I started my transformation! When I started my transformation, I had no intention of quitting my drug habit. Can you believe that I’d already resigned myself to smoking pot for the rest of my life? I’m serious. I’d tried to quit before and never even made it a full day. I actually gave up on the notion that I would ever be drug-free. A funny thing happened, though. The healthier I became, the less desire I had to be stoned. I knew that the smoke was hurting my cardiovascular abilities, and I actually started to prefer the natural high of working out over the numb, drug-induced fog in which I’d been living.

Getting in shape, eating right and working out was starting to change me. I began to feel better about myself. I began to remember what it felt like to really be alive. In the period of time immediately surrounding my workouts I started abstaining from marijuana. Those brief drug-free windows allowed me fleeting glimpses of how good life could be without drugs.

Sometime in late February 2003, I made the choice to stop doing drugs forever. I set a quit date: March 6, 2003, and I stuck with it. I threw out every last piece of paraphernalia I owned: screens, bongs, pipes, papers, pipe cleaners, ashtrays – everything. I completely distanced myself from other substance abusers. This part was hard because I liked many of those people a great deal, but this painful step was absolutely necessary and I do not regret it.

Some of you can quit on your own. Some of you will require help to solve your problem, and there is no shame in that. I am not a drug counselor, a doctor or even someone who’s particularly knowledgeable about addiction and all the reasons for it. I’m just a guy telling his story in the sincere hope that by doing so I’ll help others see that they can do it too.

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