The debate of marijuana use — especially for medicinal purposes — is an important one. In many cases, however, it causes people to assume smoking weed isn’t bad if it’s legal in some areas or in certain instances – but this is not true.
When a friend chooses to start smoking weed, it can be difficult to watch. Seeing your friend struggle with marijuana addiction can be even more difficult when you understand the risks and choose not to smoke with him or her.
If you’re concerned a friend or loved one is going too far with marijuana, it’s important to learn how you can help. You might be seeing all the warning signs, and it might even feel like your loved one is slipping away. You want to pull him or her back in, but the disease of addiction has taken hold and won’t let go. It’s an emotional and frustrating feeling watching your loved one become addicted to marijuana, when your only wish is for him or her to be rid of the chains of addiction and live life to the fullest.
So how can you cope with friends who smoke weed? What can you do to help them?
Figure Out Why You Want Your Friend to Quit Smoking Weed
Weed is quickly becoming a socially acceptable drug, such as alcohol or cigarettes. We hear it all the time: “It won’t hurt you,” “You won’t even get addicted,” and “I can quit whenever I want, so it’s fine.”
Most drugs — even nicotine — are extremely difficult to quit using. While marijuana does not have the same physical addiction other drugs do, there is a psychological addiction that can be just as strong. Getting your loved one to quit smoking weed becomes even more challenging when he or she believes there’s no harm in using.
When it comes to friends that smoke weed, it’s important to understand why you want your friend to quit. Are you worried about your friend’s health? Are you concerned about legal consequences? Do you not like how your friend acts when high — or when trying to find the next high? Are you worried about his or her career?
Before you can help your friend quit smoking weed, you need to know yourself why it is a problem. Only then can you offer evidence to support your concerns.
Make Observations and Pay Close Attention
If you are concerned about your friend’s marijuana use, be observant to how he or she acts. Make note of behavioral changes. These observations will be useful when you discuss your concerns with your friend.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my friend have trouble concentrating?
- Is he or she anxious, nervous or agitated?
- Is he or she getting sick more frequently?
- Has his or her personality changed dramatically?
One of the most obvious signs of marijuana abuse is lack of interest. Those who smoke marijuana on a regular basis will lose interest in the hobbies and activities once enjoyed. They choose to smoke instead of being productive.
Another important sign is losing friends or distancing family. After choosing the drug over spending time with loved ones, relationships get hurt. If your friend is smoking weed and his or her behavior starts to affect others, it has become a problem — and it very well could be considered an addiction. The first step is making sure your friend knows that there’s a problem.
Approach Your Friend
As hard as it may be, it’s important to have the courage to approach your friend. Be supportive, and take the time to gather your thoughts. You need to accurately articulate how you feel — not point out how wrong your friend is for smoking weed.
Start by thinking about why your friend’s using weed bothers you. Write down “I” statements, such as “I feel sad that you’re not drawing or writing anymore like you used to because of smoking weed.” Never use second person, as your friend may feel attacked if you start using “you” statements. Make this about how you feel, and let it show that you care.
It’s important to approach your friends that smoke weed in a setting that wouldn’t necessarily be stressful. Choose an ordinary day and perhaps a fun activity, such as getting a coffee or going out for dinner at a favorite restaurant. Your approach should be natural, and you want your friend to be comfortable enough to be open with you.
When you finally bring up the topic of smoking weed, be sure to prepare your friend if you can. You don’t want to catch him or her off guard — and you especially don’t want him or her to get defensive with you. Begin by saying how important your friend is to you. Explain you only want the best for him or her and that you have concerns.
You’ll want to approach the topic from an objective standpoint — avoid pointing fingers and shifting the focus from rights and wrongs. The discussion should be about why you think your friend is hurting himself or herself by smoking weed. Say your friend can have a better life without it, and do your best to explain why.
Offer non-judgmental observations on his or her mood. Explain that you noticed a shift in energy and how it affects your friendship. Point out those activities you once enjoyed and how you wish you could do them together again.
Above all else, support your friend wholeheartedly. Remember that this is the first approach. You’ve planted the seed — the rest involves being a foundation for your friend when he or she needs you.
In a positive scenario, you’ll mostly likely get one of these two responses from your friend:
- Well, I want to quit….
- I just can’t quit right now.
You might notice frustration, but if you haven’t injected any judgment into the conversation, that frustration is aimed at his or her poor choices and not your decision to talk about it. If your friend admits that he or she is ready to quit smoking weed, both you and your friend have begun the journey to recovery together.
If your friend is not ready to accept the addiction, don’t feel as if you failed. Often those who seek help point to conversations like these as a reason why they found the path to sobriety. Explain that you are just concerned and don’t want to miss out on having the friendship. Continue supporting your friend and — when the time feels right — broach the subject again.
Develop Action Plans and Set Obtainable Goals
In some cases, withdrawal doesn’t happen right away. Your friend could stop smoking weed, but might not feel the cravings until a few weeks or even up to a month later. This makes it easy for your friend to “quit” smoking marijuana, only to start smoking days later because he or she thought addiction wasn’t an issue in the first place.
It’s important to remind your friend that it may be easy to toss the weed and the joints down the toilet today, but it might be more difficult in the long run. If withdrawal symptoms do start cropping up, be sure to help your friend prepare a plan.
Come up with activities that can help him or her stay focused. Develop a plan of action — maybe calling you or another friend — whenever the urge to use arises. Offer ideas of what your friend can do instead of using.
It’s easy for your friend to succumb to the cravings and go back to smoking weed, but if he or she has a backup plan to using — such as going for a walk, chewing gum, snapping a rubber band, or even clicking a pen — it can help take his or her mind off the cravings.
The bonus to your friend battling and overcoming those cravings is your opportunity to celebrate when he or she reaches specific goals. Start by setting small, obtainable ones. You could say, “Let’s see if you can go without smoking weed for an entire week. If you can, I’ll take you out to dinner so we can celebrate!”
You could also create 24-hour rewards to start with. Make it small, and then build from there. Your motivation could easily be the driving force for your friend to continue battling the cravings and getting past those hurdles.
Reinforce Why Marijuana Is a Bad Choice for Your Friend
In today’s changing political world, an increasing number of states are legalizing marijuana. Many point to this legalization as proof marijuana is not bad.
While you might not be able to change your friend’s mind that marijuana is in fact “bad”, you can offer reminders on how it badly affects his or her life. By choosing to smoke weed, your friend is missing out on life experiences. Waiting for the next high is not a good way to live.
Follow a Path and Be There Every Step of the Way
Addiction is a challenge that sticks with people for life. Even when someone wants to stop using a drug, it takes an enormous amount of time to cope with the loss of it — much like being stripped to the core of your being and wondering if there’s something substantial in there without the drug.
The real heart of addiction, though, is the will and drive of the individual. You can’t make someone quit — your friend has to make a personal decision that he or she is done with drugs. Your friend must make a firm declaration and resolution that he or she is ready for a change.
When your friend is ready to accept the need for change, you may want to recommend your friend seeks professional treatment for the addiction. Often the root causes of drug use are deep. By addressing underlying issues, your friend will be able to deal with life stressors in a positive way. Rehab can help your friend heal on every level — physical, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically — while gaining the tools to continue making the right decisions.
The process doesn’t happen overnight, and it can take a great deal of time. Because you care so much about your friend, you should be right there with him or her every step of the way. Guidance, perseverance, support, love, and understanding are your hallmarks — the keys to helping your friend continue on the path to lifelong sobriety.
Consider Support Groups
Support groups don’t only involve the person suffering from the addiction — they can be a supportive place for friends and family who are struggling and learning to cope with friends that smoke weed. Not only would you support your friend by attending a group meeting, but you’ll also support yourself in your endeavor to be a strong foundation.
Attending a support group with your friend can offer countless benefits and may help him or her avoid smoking weed. You can’t shoulder the responsibility of trying to lead your friend down the road of recovery alone. You’ll need help along the way, and a support group will make sure you’re not alone.
By attending support groups with your friend, you’re offering accountability. It’s easy to say you can skip this one meeting, but it is more difficult when you know you’d be letting someone down.
Attending meetings does not have to be a heavy experience. Make it fun and offer to take your friend out for dinner afterwards or grab a movie. You can show your friend how fun sober living can be.
Help Yourself and Help Your Friend
Helping a friend quit smoking weed is not going to be easy. You have to remember that you are not responsible for his or her choices. You can only guide your friend, offering support until he or she makes the right choice.
Your helping hand, constant support, communication, support groups, and activities all work together to show your friend that sobriety is not only possible, but also enjoyable. If, however, you find that your friend relapses and backslides a bit, it’s important to stay positive and keep moving forward. Help your friend maintain his or her goals, even if they were goals that were already accomplished.
This could easily mean that your friend might climb the ladder of recovery a few times before completely finding his or her lifelong path to sobriety. Stick with your friend no matter how long it takes.
When you achieve recovery together, the reward is monumental. You’ll be able to look at your friend and watch him or her live a fulfilling life in sobriety, accomplishing goals and changing the world the way you knew he or she could.
If you have a friend that smokes weed and may be developing an addiction, call 12 Keys Rehab today to learn how we can help. As a team, we can battle addiction and give your friend the support he or she needs to recover and live life in sobriety.