Marijuana Ruined My Life

Pam Gaslow

In 2015, after eight years sober from weed, I relapsed. Most people think smoking weed isn’t a big deal, but to me it was a big deal, because I wasn’t just a casual stoner. I was a chronic 24/7 inhaling machine. I used it to obliterate my existence.

At the beginning getting high was a fun, silly time. Jokes were hilarious, food tasted amazing, sex was off the charts. Sure, I got in my car on the wrong side, left my lipstick in a box of Charleston Chews, and came home with a machete when I had intended to buy a raincoat, but so what? And so what if I wore sunglasses in the shower and walked around wearing headphones that weren’t playing music? It’s not like I was going to get arrested for any of that.

Things escalated quickly.

Or deescalated?

After six months of getting high around the clock, I became a dumb, horny zombie with the mentality and libido of a 20-year-old on Spring Break. I would wake up at 8 a.m., go on my terrace naked, do a bong hit, and sext the guy next door. And he worked. I had enough awareness to realize that my behavior was ridiculous for a woman in her forties, but I couldn’t help it, and I didn’t care.

The descent into weed addiction is a slow downward spiral. My daily routine went from silly, to embarrassing, to just plain sad. I spent my time completely alone with a weed pen glued to my lips while I did nothing except sleep, eat horribly, stare at walls and watch repeats of My 600 lb. Life. I had severe depression, chronic lethargy, zero motivation and a worrisome cough. I went to a doctor who told me my lungs were at 65% capacity. I was so high I looked at him and asked, “What are they supposed to be at?” It was sad because I used to be smart. I used to be busy, creative and productive. Now I felt like a complete loser. I hadn’t had a coherent thought in almost a year. I couldn’t focus on anything, read anything, or remember anything. It's because I live in Florida, I thought. But I was sober before in Florida. It's Miami. It's my friends. It's my lack of friends. It's my luck. It's my fate. It's because I don't have a "job." Although I couldn’t imagine that having a job would have made me stay sober. Then I added up how many hours I'd spent walking my dogs over the past twelve years and realized that I did have a job – I was a fucking dog walker. I hated my job.

I wish I had stopped then, but sadly, in the blink of a bloodshot eye, another year went by. An entire year passed, and nothing changed, except I was older. Well, a few things had changed: I now cried every day, had stomach problems and was vomiting on a semi-regular basis. I consulted a doctor who told me that I could have marijuana toxicity. I was literally poisoning myself. I was terrified and knew I needed help. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t.

I didn’t understand why no one was doing an intervention on me. Well, in all fairness, no one really knew the extent of my misery and dysfunction, and it wasn’t something I was proud to advertise. My family had no idea what was going on, and while my friends were aware that I was smoking a lot, and they didn't appreciate the no-warning 15-second pause when I did a hit on the phone with them, no one ever said anything. Nobody cares that you’re high, it’s not a big deal, everyone does it. No one knew how fucked up I was. No one knew that I was brain dead, emotionally numb, physically sick, and spiritually depleted. They didn’t know that I was dying on the inside.

I knew I had to go to rehab, but I dreaded it. Rehab isn’t a fun place - it’s basically prison for drug addicts. I had been there once ten years prior for the same reason, and I swore I would never go back. Plus, trying to find a rehab when you’re high is like trying to find a boyfriend when you’re high; poor judgment usually leads to poor decision-making. However, I figured that, unlike boyfriends, any rehab was better than none.

After some stoned research I decided on a mid-priced place near West Palm Beach. I could have picked a mansion in Malibu with equine therapy, massages and 900 thread count sheets, but I needed to get sober, not pay $50K to pet a horse or possibly meet a fucked up celebrity.

Unfortunately, the rehab I went to did not force me to detox prior to checking in, so I showed up stoned and every hour that passed I painfully, slowly sobered up. It was hell. My first night was traumatizing - I cried, had a panic attack, and threw up in front of fifteen people. All I wanted to do was leave. But where would I go? Back home to continue getting high for the next five to ten years? When I say that rehab is like prison there is one major difference - you can escape rehab, in the physical sense. If you don’t like it you’re free to leave and go back to your miserable life, which isn’t a life anyway, it’s a slow death, but unless you get sober you will never be free. I wanted to be free. And thank god the fear of leaving was greater than the pain of staying. I think they call that a blessing.

Each day got a little easier. I slowly regained the ability to focus and listen. And what I heard when I shared in group about how awful I felt, what a mess I was, and how much I hated myself, was the counselor asking, “Would you ever treat anyone else the way you’ve treated yourself?” Of course, the answer was no. And that’s when everything flipped. I learned to forgive myself because I had a disease, not because I was a shitty person. I realized that by admitting I was powerless and seeking help, that I had already done the hardest part. To be able to look at my being in treatment as an act of a strength for getting the courage to make a positive change in my life, instead of feeling like a failure for having spent all those years wasting it, was so empowering. To change my perspective, to have gratitude and acceptance, and to replace fear with hope - that’s basically everything I didn’t have when I was changing bong water, crying and thinking I’d be better off dead. When you’re high you think there are a million things wrong with your life and if you just fix them one at a time you will be okay, but the truth is that the first thing you need to do is get sober, then the other things fall into place. While rehab is an education that teaches sobriety as a lifestyle, sobriety is still a choice, and if your life is anything like mine was, I hope you choose it as well.

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I am primarily a humorist but also write about dating, relationships, sex, addiction, and any random observations I feel inspired by.

Miami Beach, FL

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