Cannabis Addiction: The Balancing Act of Real Benefits, Habit and Dependence.

By Sebastian DeRosia – Owner/Operator The Winston House.

I love cannabis, which is really easy to do because there is just so much to love about it. I love its health benefits, its economic capacity, its intrinsically sustainable nature, and don’t forget its intoxicating capabilities. We all love that! Many of us have been using weed for a significant portion of our lives, so all of this may seem like old hat to you, but there is a growing number of users who are new to the scene and just beginning to experiment. It is for those newbies out there that I’m writing.

Don’t stop reading though if you’re a pro, because I’m about to share some things with you that I find very important. Who knows, you may come out of this feeling a touch more enlightened than you did going in. When I sit down and make an effort to constructively analyze the plants and substances that we humans tend to gravitate towards, I can’t help but think about the relationships that we form with them. These relationships, so very much like our interpersonal exchanges, are very profound. It is for this reason that I’ve decided to take a look at these relationships and explore the intricacies of the bonds that we form with cannabis.

Every day we see more discreet and convenient cannabis products hitting the market. It’s really quite amazing that, with the shift from prohibition, the rise in ingenuity and creativity that we have begun to see from individuals in the industry. They have developed so many cool and new means to consume weed. We now have an abundance of ways to partake at a second’s notice with little need for consideration or intent. However, it is here that we must be wary of the fine line we walk between exploration and habituation. Habit is so often our brain’s go-to response, because it aligns us with the path of least resistance. So, when you think of it like that, our brains basically come out of the box, wired and ready to lead us into the habit of forming habits. If you think about it, it’s easy to see how this is a natural defense mechanism. You’ll have to forgive me for a moment while I get a little cliché and talk about the paleo man, but imagine you’re Fred Flintstone, or something like that. You’re living in a world vastly different than ours, thousands of years ago, before civilization. Habits are truly a beneficial thing for you to have. As a matter of fact, they’ve probably saved your life on numerous occasions. You create routine around everything you do out of absolute necessity. Habits would keep you from eating harmful food, walking into a saber-toothed tiger’s den, or squatting down to do a number-two in a patch of poisonous plants. So, really habits aren’t all bad. But then we aren’t the paleo man. We purchase our food at places we can trust, saber-toothed tigers are extinct, and most of us, except in dire situations, take care of our biological needs in a toilet. So, we should make an effort to check our instincts and consider the repercussions of the habits we form.

As we develop relationships with substances, we create a network of neural pathways specific to whatever it is that we are using; be it coffee, sugar, alcohol, or cannabis. This doesn’t only hold true for substances though; gambling, sex, video games, television, or even shopping can result in the same kind of condition. It’s not uncommon for some of us to even pull a couple from the first list and combine it with one from the second list to create a massive, intertwined rubber-band ball of habit. A messy matrix that is so convoluted, that we can’t even begin to figure out where one habit starts or the other one ends. How we initially develop these habits, even healthy habits, will have a long standing effect on the future relationship that evolves.

Addictive things are all around us, so we are constantly in habituation’s crosshairs. There is a phrase that this makes me think of, “familiarity breeds contempt,” which basically means that when you really, really know something or someone, it becomes too easy to let that familiarity get in the way of your ability to treat that person or thing with respect. This is actually what got me thinking about writing this. As the recreational cannabis industry grows, I fear that there is potentially a risk of it going down this path. Thankfully there is something about this oh-so-lovely plant that encourages awareness.

I feel that this awareness helps to create a good, solid barrier between what could end up in line with these negative associations as opposed to highlighting cannabis’s inherent positive qualities. I think if we step back and examine our use we can learn enough to develop a healthy relationship with it, one that carries over into many facets of our lives. There is a gift in the deep insight that can be achieved when cannabis’s full potential is realized.

Ritual vs Habitual

We are bombarded with so much stimulus nowadays. Sometimes taking a moment out of our day to stop and smell the roses seems inconceivable. There is work-life and family-life and social-life, and damn if it isn’t sometimes it feels impossible to find a balance between them all. Then, we have these little computers in our pockets. Fancy little machines that we spend a good portion of the day staring at, as if at any moment the meaning of life is going to pop up via binary code on that tiny screen. So often it seems that time itself is being sucked right out of us, like some crazy-ass clock monster feeding on our goals and aspirations. Then, before you know it, wham, it’s the end of the day and time to go to bed. You get up, rinse, repeat, and start the whole process again. Like I said before, our brains are literally wired to make a habit of forming habits.

I believe that Ritual is what we can use to remedy this. Stop, don’t close your laptop. We’re keeping this secular, so stay with me for just a few moments longer. Honestly, I’m the furthest thing from a guy in a navy blue suit knocking on your door, handing you a pamphlet, and asking if you know about this god, that god, or the other one. What I’m talking about here is a new ritual, one that’s just for you. We can even call it the anti-habit. Get out and experience nature, even if you can only venture as far as your back yard. Move your body around, whether you’re doing yoga on the balcony, air guitar in the garage, or even passionately exploring another’s body. Make things, use the creativity that weed can inspire in you to tap into your inner vision by gardening, painting, or building something. Just make a point to have new and even spontaneous adventures. When you do this enrichment is inevitable. Ultimately, cannabis helps us to explore new areas in our lives; things that sometimes get drowned out by our mundane day-to-day existence.

Recently, I’ve been testing the waters with my own cannabis use. I have been a relatively regular consumer for some time, occasionally enjoying a bit in the evening to relax. I had come to notice that my insight and ability to elicit new, imaginative thoughts had begun to fade with regular use. I had become complacent, as opposed to feeling depth in my experiences. Something was surely missing. This isn’t always easy to see; especially in yourself. Sometimes you have to step back and take a look. So I stopped smoking weed for several weeks. Recently, I gradually began to introduce it back into my repertoire, but in different ways and in different settings. The effect of the changes I made to my habit has been fundamentally beneficial. My new anti-habit is reinforcing my intuitive belief that these are active relationships we engage in. Sometimes, just like any other relationship, you just have to shake things up to keep things exciting.

By Sebastian DeRosia – Owner/Operator The Winston House.



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