This weekend, I received an email that made me pause, and Jake was kind enough to allow me to share his story. I'll begin lending a greater voice to the issue of marijuana, which I haven't yet done justice, beginning with this powerful personal narrative. Below is the note in its unaltered entirety.
Subject: Marijuana Addict
Hi. My name is Jake and I am a recovering addict. I have been clean for about ten and a half months. Throughout that time I have spent many hours of spare time searching the web for articles about addiction. I have definitely hit a gold mine with your blog "the white noise". However, I was (selfishly) disappointed to find very little regarding my drug of choice, marijuana.
Before I ever used, I was aware of the potential consequences. I heard what they told me in school about the drugs like cocaine and meth and heroin, but I don't really remember anything about marijuana other than that I would be arrested if I was caught with it. I heard that some people who smoke marijuana get addicted to the "hard" drugs. The most ominous thing I heard about marijuana was that people who smoked it might get psychologically addicted. I was under the impression that one could defeat psychological addiction with a simple decision not to use.
I was pretty straight edge until my junior year when I saw a lot of my class mates beginning to smoke weed. I got curious, did a little research online and through my "peer experts", and upon concluding that weed posed minimal if any risk, I got high. The high was nothing like I expected. It was intense. It seemed as though parts of my self had been blasted away and had been replaced by adrenaline, euphoria. It would take hours to describe the high thoroughly and accurately. The next time I got high was a few months later, in spring. I was alone and I found the same overwhelming adrenaline pumping, epiphany stimulating, euphoric high. I knew I had found the best toy I had ever had in my life. It beat cake, sex, tv, video games, etc. etc. etc.
By mid summer I was dumping out trash cans with ashes at the bottom so I could pick through and make a pile of charred green that I could smoke. For the next two years my life fluctuated between weeks of being high and weeks of being clean, trying to make up for late homework and ignored relationships. Over time, the proportion of high time to clean time became steadily more heavy on the high side. I went through several periods of suicidally. During my last six months of use the possible necessity to kill myself always seemed just a week or two away. My plan while I was at school was to jump off of a nearby parking garage. At home I would use my dad's shotgun to shoot myself in the head. I didn't want to feel what I felt when I wasn't high. Luckily, I always got high before I was ready to actually kill myself.
Anyway, in the last three months of my use, I had been stealing whatever amount of money I thought I could get away with to buy my weed. Eventually my mom caught onto the fact that I was not only stealing from my family, but my girlfriend too (I stole from whoever gave me the opportunity). Fearing for my legal status she gave me an ultimatum, treatment or cops. I chose treatment and have been clean since (with the aid of AA).
Had I known of the devastating effects weed would have on me I would have never taken that first hit. I had no idea of the destructive potential of weed. I don't know what effect just one site with legitimate information on marijuana would have but it might start to change the perception that marijuana is not really addictive. Throughout my experience, I had doubts as to whether or not I was addicted. The more valid information out there, the better an individual's chances are of coming to an understanding that they need help. An addict who stops using saves themselves and everyone around them pain. The lack of info about the addictive potential of marijuana only feeds the vacuum of ignorance that sucks people deeper and deeper into addiction.