For about a year in high school, I was a total stoner. I wasn’t stoned all the time, but I’d smoke weed almost every weekend with my friends and boyfriend, and there were a few times I even went to school stoned. In many ways, these were not my finest moments in life, but I was pretty responsible about the whole thing, and like any stoned teen, I had my fair share of blissed out revelations about life, the universe, and everything else.
Everything was seemingly fine with my life as a pothead…until it wasn’t.
It was my senior year of high school and I’d just gotten over bronchitis. I was on antibiotics and still coughing a bunch, so when my good friend came over to hang out and get stoned, we decided that my best course of action was to eat a little of the weed she’d brought over rather than inhale it into my lungs.
BIG. FUCKING. MISTAKE.
Most people know that eating pot has a very intense effect on you, and though I kind of knew that at the time, I pretty much had no idea how bad it could be. Plus, I don’t think I exactly regulated how much I was consuming…and who the hell knows how the weed mixed with the antibiotics I was on.
Within an hour of eating the pot, I was full on freaking out.
Basically what happened was that I felt like I was dreaming. But not in a good way. I felt like I was totally outside of my life, looking in. I was separate from my body. I was losing my sense of center, of self. Disassociating big time.
And the scariest thing was that I was convinced that I was “going crazy,” and would never feel normal again. Ever.
So mixed with the feeling of disassociation came a full blown anxiety/paranoia attack. My heart was racing. I was crying and shaking. I was bugging the fuck out.
I remember calling my boyfriend, who had just gone away to college. “I ate pot,” I said, “And something is very, very wrong.”
He laughed a little, which freaked me out more. Then he did his best to reassure me, but honestly, nothing helped. I was convinced that I had gone off the deep end, would need to be hospitalized, and would never come home.
The worst thing was that I could not shake the feeling; because I felt this sense of distance from myself, from the world around me, and from everyone I knew, I didn’t believe that I would ever feel like myself again.
As you can imagine, all of this disappeared when the effects of the weed wore off a few hours later. It was just the drug, and I was fine.
I decided then and there that I would never, ever eat pot again, which was a wise enough decision. But I figured smoking it would still be okay.
Well, I tried smoking it a few times, and although no time was as horrible as the time I ate it, getting stoned was never quite the same. Those feelings of paranoia and disassociation were still there, and sometimes it was really bad.
It was like something had switched in my body and rather than experiencing the effects of pot as mellow, dreamy, or trippy-in-a-cool-way, it was just always a flashback to the time of my pot-eating freak-out.
Early in my college years was the last time I smoked pot. It just wasn’t for me, and although I felt a certain amount of peer pressure to try it again, it was not worth it for me to continue to “go there.” In a way, acknowledging that and taking a clear stand about it was an empowering moment in my youth.
I am definitely not knocking pot, and I don’t judge people who use it for health or mental health. I know it is invaluable to many people, and I applaud the legalization of pot as well. I also know that there are many different types of marijuana now, and it’s possible that I could find one that wouldn’t make me feel like I was losing my mind.
But I really have no interest. And I know I’m not alone.
As a mom of two boys who will likely someday dabble in pot and alcohol, I think it’s important people realize that not everyone has a positive experience with pot, and that it’s important that you take precautions when trying it.
I certainly don’t think it’s anywhere in the category of most illicit drugs, but I also think many people are quick to proclaim how great and innocuous pot is. Pot is actually known to be both an upper and a downer. It’s known to cause paranoia in some people, and although it’s not addictive in the same way alcohol or tobacco is, people most certainly can become emotionally dependent on it.
This is definitely going to be part of my conversation with my kids as they get older and we talk about drugs and alcohol and experimentation and all that. I’m not stupid; I know they will likely try these things. So I’m going to be honest with them about what to expect, and I will share my experiences with them, the good and the bad.
Basically, pot does different things to different people and different bodies, and it’s okay if you are one of those people who really can’t handle it. I know a lot of people for whom this is the case. I think we don’t really talk enough about the negative effects pot can have on people. And we should.
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