CANNABIS, BAD HABITS, AND THE “MAGNIFICATION EFFECT”
I’ve spent some time discussing how cannabis use can be involved with things like diet or exercise. There’s other habits or subjects I’ll touch on less thoroughly, but it’s important for me to convey one of the crucial lessons I’ve learned about cannabis use through myself and others: cannabis will enhance whatever you’re doing, whether it’s good or bad.
On a simple physical level, cannabis use causes one’s perceptions to be enhanced. Sounds are more distinct, food can taste better, and it can enhance physical pleasures like sex. From everything I’ve seen and experienced, with regular use, this starts to happen on a macro level with your entire life. This magnification factor is both a blessing and a curse, as the benefits of the good habits in your life are even greater and bad habits can turn into serious problems.
If life is good and you’ve got your shit together, cannabis use is obviously not an issue. For those using cannabis who are not doing well, it’s a little more complicated.
Unlike many in the cannabis community, I’m willing to acknowledge that for a small percentage of people, your body may simply not tolerate cannabis use very well, and it might be hurting you. But it seems unlikely to me that someone whose body and genetics are predisposed to not tolerating cannabis would ever become a regular user. Logically, you’d fall into the large group of people who just don’t like cannabis and don’t want to use it. It’s not like something like heroin where simply trying it a couple times could compel you to keep using. The addictive properties of cannabis are simply not strong enough.
Regardless, if you’re in this situation, I would immediately do one of two things: Make a radical effort to eliminate bad habits in your life, or stop using cannabis.
These are the choices I was faced with many years ago, and really, what other choices do you have? The alternative is sinking back into the couch and admitting defeat to every teacher, cop, or parent who said you were just another pothead—and further perpetuating stereotypes that cause all sorts of problems for the rest of us. And don’t forget about throwing your life away as well.
When your life is bad, cannabis can help you, but you have to work with it. There are a few arguably “bad” habits that I think getting rid of can really help any regular cannabis user feel better and be more productive.
As a preface, I realize labelling some of these things as “bad” is only my opinion, but cutting them out of my life has really helped me to varying degrees. I’m also aware that many healthy and successful people engage in these habits regularly, cannabis users or otherwise. This is intended for people who are not happy or successful, and just may not be lucky enough to be able to maintain as many “bad” habits as some exceptional people. And, as I mentioned, the magnification effect of cannabis use means that some of these things could be doing more damage to users than non-users.
These are all things I’ve stopped doing and have seen benefits from, in no particular order. I’ve talked extensively about the impacts of exercise and healthy diet on cannabis use in other chapters, so I’ve tried to avoid them here.
Video games are fun. I spent most of my life playing them every night. For me, it simply became too time-consuming. I could not justify spending so many hours in a week doing something that isn’t real and adds up to absolutely nothing (except for those crazy pro gamer people).
As for the interaction of video games with cannabis, I have another concern; the realism and sensory enjoyment of the gaming experience is already intense, and the slow creep of virtual reality is going to take “gaming” to unfathomable levels. Paired with sensory enhancing cannabis, we’re getting dangerously close to video games becoming more fulfilling than real life, if that isn’t already the case.
I’ve got many criticisms of video games that are well known and shared by many. They’re too time-consuming, have negative effects on one’s social life, and cause physical problems with things like posture. But my main concern for cannabis users with gaming is that it’s too good, if that makes any sense. And the experience is rapidly progressing. This could be a problem for many non-users, but the social, mental, and physical impacts of gaming will likely be even worse for “potheads.”
Video games are probably not going to help anyone reach goals related to fitness, diet, or even happiness, and this is especially true for most cannabis users.
Unhealthy Social Media Use
Obviously, pretty much all of us deal with this issue in 2017. As it relates to cannabis users, I’d again assert that some of the potential negative emotions associated with social media use could be magnified. After deleting my Facebook account, and the 36-hour period of anxiety that followed, I certainly felt better and had more time on my hands. It’s the type of thing where you don’t feel like it’s taking up a lot of your time or thoughts, but once you stop, you realize how often you were checking for notifications or off in space looking at vacation photos of some person you’ve never met. And you realize how fucked it is to sit around waiting to get “likes” from people you don’t even talk to in real life.
Hell, getting excited about “likes” from people you do know in real life is pretty weird. Many regular cannabis users suffer from low self-esteem from years of being stigmatized by friends, parents, and society in general, and thus are probably even more inclined to have a negative experience.
Social media can also enforce questionable social norms and ideals that likely aren’t reflective of the values of many cannabis users, emphasizing how “deviant” they are. And like with video games, if you’re trying to pull yourself out of a rut, you just don’t have time for this stuff.
Porn and Masturbation
Obviously, I’m speaking from a male perspective on this subject. Based on the habits of most of my male peers, I never gave this one much thought, as I was far from extreme in my consumption of pornography or how often I masturbated.
At no point in my life did I ever think I had some sort of problem, let alone that it could be causing me harm. There is little to no scientific data to suggest that “normal” masturbation is harmful in any way. But it had a huge impact on my mood and energy levels. I would strongly suggest any male cannabis users struggling with these things to give cutting back a shot.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work for everyone, as some guys report absolutely no results. But it’s worth a try. As always, keep in mind the magnification effect of cannabis and how jacking off can make you dopey and tired even if you’re not using. dopey and tired are the last two things you want to be if you’re a cannabis user struggling with motivation.
Increased confidence is the biggest tangible impact for most when they stop, which is important as many cannabis users struggle with self-esteem. And in less flowery terms, the idea of lying around surrounded by roaches and soiled tissue paper while looking at some twisted shit on PornHub is fucking gross, and is probably not going to lead to a very productive day.
As for pornography, it’s obviously a much broader discussion, but my main concern for cannabis users is the same as video games. With the relentless march towards virtual reality and higher quality video, the porn experience is rapidly becoming more engrossing and realistic, even more so if you’re using something like cannabis that enhances your sensory experience. It’s just getting too “good”, and that’s a problem.
But the most important thing to be aware of in terms of cannabis enhancing things in your life is not really a specific habit, though you could look at it that way…
This was a key realization for me, and something I’ve observed time and time again in people in the cannabis community.
Cannabis users that are happy are really fucking happy. They seem almost bulletproof, looking younger and slimmer than their non-using counterparts, devoid of the baseline depression and anxiety so many people carry around.
I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating good habits, but compared to most of the people I meet in my age group, I tend to have way more optimism, energy, and overall peace of mind than they do, including many of those who cultivated the same good habits. I have no doubt it’s my cannabis use that enhances my positive feelings and gives me an edge.
The other possibility is that cannabis is bad for you, but I’m so exceptional and special that I’ve achieved superior happiness and peace of mind than my non-using peers despite years of chronic cannabis use, which I highly doubt. (No pun intended.)
And if you have a bad attitude? Could be trouble. Despite cannabis traditionally being associated with feelings of peace and calm, spend enough time in the cannabis subculture and you will meet some seriously angry and crazy potheads.
Sadly, I spent many years in this demographic, spending 24 hours a day on the verge of a violent meltdown and often boiling over. Cannabis doesn’t really calm you down, except perhaps in the short term; overall, feelings of rage and anger are often intensified or at least pushed down far below to surface at a later date or manifest in a low-level, brooding hatred of just about everything. (Sounds like the comment section on YouTube.)
This isn’t necessarily true for everyone, but the idea that cannabis will automatically calm you down is overstated. This can also happen with feelings of worthlessness or negative body image. Bad habits with how you think will be enhanced. If you’re constantly beating yourself up, the blows will likely have a greater impact if you’re using all the time.
You may be thinking this sounds like a paradox or flawed logic. How can cannabis make people’s lives better while also making them worse? If cannabis is enhancing negative feelings and emotions, shouldn’t someone struggling quit using cannabis before anything else?
These questions are still based on the assumption that cannabis causes these feelings and problems. Yes, cannabis is probably magnifying them, and logically quitting cannabis might provide some semblance of relief. But the underlying issues still need to be addressed, so you’ll still be unhappy. The placebo effect is likely in play, confusing what quitting may or may not be doing for you. All you really need to do is take some responsibility for your actions, show some determination, and quit blaming cannabis for your lack of motivation.
Once you get over the hump, you’ll start finding out what cannabis can really do for you. I’ll remind you of the choices I presented at the beginning of this chapter: Make a radical effort to eliminate bad habits in your life, or stop using cannabis.
There’s not a lot of risk to quitting for most people, so if you think I’m full of shit, I encourage you to walk away. My intention is not to try and talk people out of quitting. But, I got to a point of dysfunctionality where those two options became an ultimatum.
At the time, like many users, I was fairly convinced that cannabis use was at the root of all my issues. But something inside me still suspected that there might be another way. I chose to see how far I could get without quitting, and I cannot tell you how happy I am that I went that route. I ended up getting to heights of mental and physical health I never dreamed of at the time, all while maintaining my cannabis use.
I love life now, and having cannabis in my life to “magnify” those feelings is a special thing. It breaks my heart that some people will never get to experience how I feel because of misinformation and hateful stigma. And it sucks to think that the cannabis community might lose some wonderful people who were convinced by society that quitting cannabis would solve their problems, when all they needed was themselves.