Smoking and Marijuana: How to Fight Multiple Addictions, Part III
Can people successfully quit smoking cigarettes if they continue to smoke marijuana? There are some reports that indicate marijuana may actually help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of quitting cigarettes. But the act of getting high can interfere with the process of learning how to live free from cigarettes.
When we smoke cigarettes, we are feeding many different needs, both physical and psychological. By smoking, we feed our nicotine craving, our need for excitement and escape, and our need for comfort and the familiar.
Trying to break the smoking habit involves addressing all of these very powerful needs. We must find diversions and substitutes, but we must also learn how to live life on life’s terms and quit looking for an external fix.
If we smoke pot, we are engaging in many of the same physical and emotionally-driven behaviors that are involved in smoking cigarettes. When we quit smoking cigarettes yet continue to smoke marijuana, we make it far too easy to relapse back to cigarettes. We are relying on a quick fix to deal with our emotional issues and to fill our spiritual gaps.
The addictive power of marijuana is reported to be less intense than that of nicotine, so it may be wise to try to remove the pot from your life first. You can do that by using the same tools that are helpful for quitting smoking: set a quit date; remove the paraphernalia from your life; write a reinforcement list of reasons to quit and carry it with you; tell your friends and develop a support network to help you get through the rough spots (see links below for more helpful information on quitting).
The physical aspects of marijuana withdrawal follow a pattern similar to that found in nicotine withdrawal - your system will be free of the drug residue within about 72 hours. Unfortunately, there is no patch or pill to help with marijuana withdrawal, but cold turkey is most effective. It would be wise to just pick a quit date that leaves you with about three relatively low-stress days to get through the hardest part.
Even better would be to quit both dependencies at the same time. The trouble with sequentially quitting addictive behaviors is that with any addictions remaining, we can too easily slip into relapse with the other addiction we are trying to escape. If we can bite the bullet and get through the first 72 hours of physical withdrawal from both cannabis and nicotine, we will be far more likely to be successful at quitting both for good. And to live a life free of addictions is to truly live life to the fullest.
For more information on the issues with multiple addictions, see Smoking and Alcoholism: How to Fight Multiple Addictions, Part II
For a complete quitting guide, see my series that begins with Preparing to Quit Smoking
For more information on marijuana and its negative effects, please see Carol Southard’s recent post: Marijuana Use and Quitting Smoking: Do Risks Outweigh Benefits?