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A Lesson I Wish I Had Learned. Enjoy Weed? Prevent Paranoia

Personal Experience of Paranoia and How You Can Avoid It

Photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash     

I started smoking weed when I was 13 years old. For the first year or two, it was the best thing I had ever experienced, I couldn't get enough. At first it started like so many of us, being ripped off and buying what we thought was a gram but much smaller at in inflated price. Also the weed was weaker, normal grass or hash. Initially I felt a positive shift in my spirituality, mind, and body. I started to see the world in a different way, jokes became 10 times funnier, food was 100 times nicer and the feeling of being with a girl was amazing. Essentially everything was made more fun and exciting by the feeling of having a smoke. It opened my mind to many different ideas, thoughts and generally enhanced all experiences in my life. 

Me and my friends started to smoke the stuff like it was the last plant on the planet. A bit like those fools you see in bars trying to out drink each other we gave credit to those who could put as much weed in their body as possible. Whether it be with a pipe, bong, bucket bong, cake, liquid, or spliff we just wanted to get as high as humanly possible whenever we could. Sound familiar?

If you are one of the lucky ones who has done all of this but can still function normally and enjoy your smoke, good for you. If you are one of the lucky ones who has recently started smoking and have not yet had issues with paranoia, good for you.

For those of you who have recently started and have not yet had any issues with it I would like to offer you some advice. I am not a doctor and can't profess from a medical point of view but I can describe to you my experience and hopefully save you from the turmoil this lovely but powerful plant can cause if treated badly. I will come back to what advice I have to prevent it happening (or at least massively decrease the chances) later. Firstly I'd just like to share with you some of my experiences.

There wasn't one occasion I can look back on and say "that's it, that's the moment I became paranoid." It doesn't work like that, it's gradual, it creeps in. For example I found sometimes I would be laughing at something when stoned and then I'd imagine people listening to my laughter and thinking to themselves "what a dick." I'd suddenly stop laughing and go quiet. There also started to be this feeling of distrust and a hierarchical sense among friends. Some were considered more "cool" or "important" than others.

There's no easy or quick way to describe exactly what goes on in your mind when you're paranoid but I will do my best to give you some idea. Try and imagine you're stoned in a room full of people, something like a hospital waiting room. You begin to believe everyone in the room can read your thoughts, their body language is a private conversation about you between themselves. You then realize you are in a room being monitored, monitored by what? The government, evil spirits, aliens, yourself? Then you feel like you have been lead to this point by people you now can't trust, your friends/family, they all guided you to this point, you may not make it back to reality.

This is just one small example of the kinds of thoughts and feelings I would have on a regular basis. "Why continue?" I hear you say. Good question, however as I said before it doesn't work like that, you don't have one almighty experience and then stop. I also think the part of you that loved the warm, joyous funny times you first experienced wants to get back to that somehow. 

Paranoia made me question everything and everyone around me but not in a positive way.  

Around the age of 15 we would go to a friend's house during lunch break at school and smoke a bong or two each, sometimes followed by a spliff or two. Looking back at this now it was total madness! Trying to function in a place like school when you are that stoned and paranoid is hell.  

I also think there are certain friends who through just being young and insecure themselves picked up on my insecurities and would aid the paranoia by saying things that would twist me up. I guess to some it's entertaining to watch someone else have a really tough time. Gives them a sense of importance maybe? We were all so young though.

Eventually the paranoia took over completely and every single smoke became hell. This is when my common sense finally got it's ass into gear and I stopped. I started art college (having failed every exam except art) as someone who didn't smoke weed anymore. Ironic considering most start at college or uni. To say it had affected my confidence is an understatement, I was socially awkward, shy, and mostly on a different planet but art college was for the most part great, somewhere creative.

It was at this point I opened the doors to alcohol and wow! This completely changed me. I know alcohol is considered probably the worst drug in the world but at the time I started drinking it was the most pleasurable, healing, and freeing thing I could have done. Before you think I was just replacing the weed with something else I can assure you this was not the case. Wrong or right, at the time it felt like medicine, medicine that gave me the confidence to laugh again, come back down to earth and be sociable. I bumped into a friend of mine at a weed gathering who (like me) also suffered major paranoia. I think it appealed to him when I was drunkenly telling him how alcohol made me enjoy life again. The next time I saw him we both went out on the piss and had a great time.

I'm not suggesting you drink alcohol to prevent paranoia. As we know, alcohol is also a depressant and can lead to similar if not worse problems.  

Around the age of 19 on a night out, I was offered a smoke while drunk. I thought to myself "hey, I'm different now, the weed won't affect me, and I'm drunk." Part of this was true, through being drunk it did dampen the paranoia. However, what it also did was turn me into quite an unusual, bizarre and uncomfortable person to be around. I would say very odd things that didn't make any sense and generally freak people out. This went on for a while until my girlfriend finished with me. The combination of being drunk and paranoid on weed is not advisable, not unless you want to scare people and lose friends.

I am a 38 year old musician now and although I hate weed for what I let it do to me there are times I wish I could go back to meet my 13 year old self and offer this advice.

I would advise to stay well clear of the really strong weed, hash, skunk etc. Sure really strong mature cheddar cheese is better tasting but really strong weed can cause you psychosis and paranoia. In fact I would go so far as to say the weaker the better. Same applies to hash, if you start hearing all that crap about "oh yeah this hash has an extra special potent chemical in it that will blow your mind" tell that person to shove it up their ass. Normal grass and weak hash, just those two. Don't smoke bongs!!! I can't stress that enough, that goes for pipes or any other tool for getting maximum stoned from small amounts of weed. If you don't smoke tobacco it might be worth trying the other methods of ingestion. Only do it occasionally. One of the issues I had was I couldn't get enough, bad idea. You have your whole life, practice what you preach, chill out, do it once a week. On the other days try playing sport or learning an instrument. It's a bit like alcohol in the sense that if you drank a bottle of whiskey a day you will likely become incredibly ill or die. One glass of wine in the evening however is good for you.

I am totally for the legalization and medicinal use of marijuana and believe it does have positive healing properties. This is of course like other medicines, only beneficial when taken the right way.

Looking back on my first experiences of weed growing up I found it very spiritual. I find it really encouraging to see the younger generation coming through are exploring this side of life. After all, when we are getting high all we are trying to do is reach a higher state of consciousness and spiritual awareness. Good luck finding your good red road, peace and love.  

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