For anyone who has ever used heroin, I’m confident the idea of a marijuana relapse resembling heroin addiction sounds absurd. Also, I imagine that comparing legal medicine to heroin is ridiculous to the avid stoners.
But here I am, and somehow my weed use evolved into similar circumstances.
Firstly, I’m not against marijuana use. Secondly, I believe it should be federally legalized. So that those who can benefit from its medicinal value can benefit. Lastly, I think people serving time for marijuana offenses should be released with their records expunged.
However, as an addict, I am unable to control my usage. So smoking evolved into a full-fledged addiction. My marijuana addiction took over my life in many of the same ways my stint with heroin use had before.
My purpose in sharing this experience is to speak to anyone who feels they relate to my story. As well as to elaborate on the reality of marijuana addiction.
Warning: I’ve included images of weed-related products that may be triggering to those new to recovery.
However, they serve the purpose of showing the similarities to heroin and the progression into my addiction.
Beginning Stages of Marijuana Relapse
Initially, I began smoking marijuana as a means of dealing with my panic attacks. Unfortunately, as a recovering heroin addict, I cannot take pills such as Xanax. Despite my former doctor suggesting otherwise.
At the time, my state had recently become legal. But I’d never visited a weed dispensary. Although, I’d smoked plenty of marijuana illegally before my sobriety.
Upon entering my first dispensary, I asked if there was something to help with my anxiety. So naturally, the stoners behind the counter laughed and pointed around the room.
My eyes lit up at the overwhelming variety of strains available. Additionally, the cases of edibles and other weed-related products were intriguing. But I settled on a Sativa strain and made my way out the door.
After being sober for nearly two and a half years, I felt conflicted about smoking cannabis. However, many opiate users use marijuana as a means of getting clean and/or staying from dope. Furthermore, marijuana is legal and widely accepted as the new norm.
Additionally, people will make excuses for you. Even encourage you and remind you that it’s nothing like heroin and not a big deal.
So I justified that weed helps with anxiety, headaches, and back pain. As someone with chronic pain, anxiety, and migraines, it became rational. So it wasn’t overly challenging to light that first joint.
How the Uncomfortable Became Comfortable
Initially, I became internally unhinged at the sight of the RSO in the display cases at the dispensary. As you can see, it looks like a syringe full of heroin.
Honestly, I remember my heart speeding up as I inquired about the RSO product. Subsequently, my heart thumped loudly several more times, visiting the dispensary for my cannabis products.
In fact, I remember explaining this to my husband and assuring him that I would never touch it. I elaborated on how similar it looked to heroin.
But it wasn’t long before I was introduced to dab and shatter in our stoner circle of friends. Promoted as being a much cheaper and more manageable form of getting stoned. And boasted as deriving from the plant so it isn’t synthetic marijuana.
At first, I was hesitant. The glass dab rigs remind me of the meth bongs I’d used years before. It was unsettling.
Somehow, smoking dab felt much more like doing drugs than sparking a blunt ever did, including the blow torch lighter method of lighting the pipe.
Nevertheless, I’ve never been one to say no to trying new drugs. That’s the very nature of a drug addict. So I took a hit.
It burned my throat, and I could taste the butane. Furthermore, the cough was so violent I nearly peed my pants. But the dab itself tasted nice, and I became super-stoned.
It felt like I’d smoked three blunts all to myself with only one hit from the dab rig. But like any substance, that euphoria did not last long. Soon, it took more and more to recreate that high.
After dabbing, using RSO became less intimidating. So it wasn’t long before I started collecting different RSO strains.
Six Similarities Between My Heroin Use and Marijuana Relapse
For clarification, I’m not comparing marijuana to heroin. And, without a doubt, marijuana has medicinal properties, and heroin does not.
No one has ever died from consuming marijuana. However, opioid deaths killed nearly 50,000 Americans in 2019. And 14,000 of those lives died because of heroin.
Furthermore, using marijuana never caused me to commit crimes to maintain my habit. Whereas heroin absolutely did. The two substances should not be in the same drug classification.
But there’s no denying that the addiction to both substances presents many similarities. Here are a few examples.
1. Sticking to the Medicinal Story
Before heroin, I was prescribed Percoset and ended up abusing it. I blamed my chronic back pain from car accidents. But truthfully, in addition, I enjoyed the high.
This is similar to what I told my family and friends when I discussed my marijuana relapse. I was adamant that I used it for my anxiety and natural pain relief. But also, I really enjoyed the high.
In fact, after excessive use, my anxiety became much worse. Truthfully, my father was dying of a terrible disease, and I used marijuana to numb that reality. As he became sicker, I began to use marijuana and dab excessively.
It was no longer about pain management and anxiety attacks. Instead, it was about escaping life, much like when I abused opiates. As well as when I turned to heroin.
Additionally, I had two and a half years of sobriety before my marijuana relapse. I had managed my pain without it. So that was merely an excuse.
Also, I never sought out pain or anxiety relief that doesn’t involve using substances. Instead, we’ve been conditioned to search for the quick fix, and usually, that involves taking a pill.
However, there are several natural ways to alleviate anxiety and pain. But as an addict, the substances always sound quicker and more fun.
Furthermore, taking something sounds easier than making the changes necessary to manage these ailments such as proper diet and exercise. After all, change is difficult.
2. Lying About Escalated Use
What started as an activity I engaged in after work and before bed quickly became an all-day event.
This is not uncommon for the 420 culture, and I never had to lie to my stoner friends. But I wasn’t honest with my family and non-smoker friends about how much I consumed.
At some point, my day started with two significant hits from the dab rig. Followed by consuming some RSO on a jelly bean. As well as lighting a dipped preroll.
I would take dabs and bong hits throughout the day. It never derailed my life the way that heroin did. I was a high-functioning stoner.
In fact, I worked full-time and smoked throughout my entire 8-10 hour shift. It was accepted because almost all of my staff smoked and dabbed too. In fact, my boss would send me to lunch when she knew it was time to adjust my attitude!
Additionally, I would hit my vape pen in the bathroom. All-day long. The majority of the staff did. Nobody cared. Which made it easier to overindulge in my cannabis addiction.
3. My Survival Kit for Marijuana Addiction
When I was a heroin junkie, I had a drug kit that went with me everywhere. It held my heroin, needles, cotton, and spoon. As a marijuana user, I had a similar bag.
Complete with RSO, flowers, pipe, and edibles. As well as my THC vape pen.
Honestly, it shook me how alike the kits looked. The RSO in syringe form was eerily reminiscent of my bag full of needles from my heroin-using days.
Naturally, my marijuana kit went everywhere that I went. I made sure that I would not find myself in a place where I couldn’t use it.
4. Supporting an Everyday Habit
While marijuana and cannabis products are cheaper than street drugs, a habit is a habit. So as your tolerance builds, it begins to add up.
At one point in my marijuana addiction, my husband and I smoked at least an eighth a day. Top that off with an eighth of dab every few days.
So speaking in financial terms, that is at least fifty-five dollars a day. Or $1650 a month! However, that doesn’t include the RSO, edibles, and prerolls that we indulged in on top of our daily habits.
This behavior aligns with my heroin abuse. Only, there was no need to chase bags all day. Everything was readily available at the dispensary down the street. Furthermore, it is perfectly legal and widely acceptable.
5. Choosing Marijuana Over Spending Time With Friends and Family
If I couldn’t smoke marijuana, I wasn’t coming to your gathering. Period. And if it was important enough that I did show up, I wasn’t staying long.
Additionally, activities such as going to the movies were limited due to my inability to smoke. Marvel was my only exception. Ridiculous, I know.
The further I spiraled into my marijuana relapse and addiction, the more isolated and withdrawn I became.
Similar to when I was using heroin, my entire life became about smoking weed. It was my whole personality, and nothing else came before it.
6. Marijuana Withdrawal is Real
I promise you it absolutely is for those who don’t believe that marijuana abuse is legit. Furthermore, the withdrawals are real.
I’ve experienced night sweats, headaches, body aches, nausea, loss of appetite, and insomnia. As well as suffering vivid dreams that feel like nightmares.
THC withdrawal pales in comparison to opiate withdrawals. But it’s still an unpleasant experience. Also, depending on dosage, the withdrawal can last for months.
Recovering From My Marijuana Relapse
As of 04-21-2021, I am marijuana-free and have re-embraced my sobriety. My husband has embraced recovery with me. So that helps immensely with accountability.
Honestly, the first 30-days of sobriety were the most difficult. Dealing with cravings and mental fog is unpleasant. But as I near my 90-day mark, it’s become more manageable each day. This is because my body no longer has a physical dependency on THC.
However, there is still a mental struggle sometimes. Additionally, I’m experiencing vivid dreams and fatigue. But I understand that it will pass.
Yoga has been a massive help in managing my pain. I realize how cliche that sounds to users. Because I was once where you are and laughed at people who suggested Yoga. But it’s a natural solution to my back and neck pain.
Honestly, it felt awkward at first, and it takes time to align your breathing. But the pain relief is incredible and life-changing.
Without a doubt, I have more energy and am less foggy than when I was smoking marijuana. As a result, I’m motivated to do more than stay in the house. Also, my focus and attention span has improved immensely.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Relapse
Despite its medicinal properties, marijuana is an addictive substance with about 10% of users becoming addicted, according to the CDC. This means marijuana addiction is valid and for an addict, it’s plausible you could be in that 10% of users.
I understand that everyone’s recovery is different, and I’m not here to judge anyone on their journey.
This is my experience and my truth with marijuana relapse with an opioid use disorder. So I am sharing it with anyone who relates to these circumstances and is looking to stop using. It is possible, and life is better sober.
If you found this helpful, would you bless me with a social share? Thanks! Those always make me smile! Also, let me know in the comments if you relate to my experience. Or have anything to add to it.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.