The Stoner Experience: Anxiety and Weed

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The Stoner Experience is a new column in which writers will offer their personal experiences with marijuana in the hopes of offering some insight into how weed affects people differently in various situations, and how it can also affect us all so similarly.

It was a Friday night, it was summer, and the weather was a delightful 70 degrees or so. I had just smoked a few bowls with some friends at a party and felt stoned as hell. I was content for the moment until a drunk girl began talking to me.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m around drunk people and I’m not drunk, their behavior goes from annoying to frustrating quite quickly. In this particular scenario the girl talked without any break or pause and left no possibility for comment. What started happening in my head was regrettable. I suddenly became increasingly aware of myself, my palms began to sweat, and my heart began to palpitate. I was stuck talking to this girl and I didn’t have an opportunity to excuse myself without seeming rude. And, it was freaking me out.

God knows it seems stupid now, but being rude to a friend of a friend seemed like social suicide at the time and I didn’t want to commit it. So, I began to panic. Ultimately, what I ended up doing was literally running away while she continued to discuss whatever it was that she was saying.

That incident, along with a few others around the same time, caused me to blame the weed for my anxiety. Now, I had already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and I knew that the weed had little to do with it, but I gave up my ten-year love affair with herb in the hope of releasing myself from some of this anxiety. Of course this hiatus didn’t last more than a year because, let’s face it, sometimes you just get bored and there’s nothing better to do than smoke a little weed. What I’ve found is that the paranoia people experience when on weed is amplified exponentially if you suffer from anxiety. While weed can have a calming and relaxing effect for some people, if you suffer from anxiety, it can work against you.

I find that moderation is the key. I now only smoke two hits at a time. That way I get stoned but I don’t lose myself in paranoid thought or catastrophic thinking. Now, there are times where I still feel the cold sting of anxiety creep up on me while stoned but since I’m only a little bit high, I can justify the anxiety away without freaking out. If you find yourself having a full blown panic attack on weed, it can be damaging but try to remind yourself that you’re just high and that the high will wear off. If you find that every time you smoke you feel uncomfortable and you can’t control your own thoughts, you may want to think about moderating your intake.

Do you suffer from anxiety and also enjoy marijuana? If so, please share your story below. Do you disagree and think that weed helps with your anxiety?

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8 Comments

  1. I suffer from bipolar disorder 1, & I also have anxiety. I have found that smoking any sativa will give me instant anxiety no matter what amount I smoke. Indica is the cure for that, indica dominant hybrids work well too.

  2. Same thing happens to me when I smoke too much from the start. What I’ve found that works for me is smoking a small amount, then smoking as much as I want an hour or so later. I feel like I might be psyching myself up before I smoke. So if I am able to feel slightly high and relax, then I am able to smoke more later without freaking out. I find myself free of the palpitations and anxiety the second time around.

  3. It’s all in your head. Literally.

    I was getting panic attacks pretty consistently about 1.5 years ago. I even went to the emergency room once because I thought something was wrong with my heart or something. It was bad. When I was at the emergency room, however, the doctor suggested that I was just having panic attacks. I was very surprised, and he did a few simple tests to put my mind at ease that it was not my heart. At the end of the visit, though, I left with a few chill pills and an anxiety problem to solve…

    I ended up going to a counseling session shortly after that ER visit. I needed to figure out how to stop having these panic attacks without having to carry around a bunch of pills all the time. Shortly after I walked into the counselor’s office, he handed me a a survey sheet. The questions were things like: “When you begin to have a panic attack, do you: A) Try to control your breathing? B) Tell yourself you need to relax? C) Think you are having a heart attack? etc. etc.

    After I took the survey we read over the results. “So, Hurp” the counselor said, “it says here you do x,y,and z when you feel like you have these panic attack feelings”.

    “That’s right”, I said.

    “Well. Just don’t do those things.”

    What!? That was his advice? Just “don’t do those things”? Yes! It was. His advice, which worked perfectly, was *when you are having a panic attack you have to ignore it*. He explained everything fully, of course. He spoke in terms of neural feedback loops and such. He even gave me a simple little game to play to practice ignoring the “I can’t breathe” feeling: breathing threw a drinking straw.

    Mindful forgetting. It was all really Eastern and meditate-y. Purposefully deciding to ignore a problem until it goes away. Very zen. AND IT WORKED.

    Fast forward a few weeks and I’m smoking weed. The panic attack comes back FULL FORCE. No problem…I’ll just ignore it. It was hard, and took a few minutes (time always seems longer when you’re high) but IT WORKED.

    I am convinced it can work for anybody. You just have to be confident: weed is safe, it’s not going to hurt you. You are feeling weird because you are having a panic attack and wigging out. Now, set those feelings aside and focus your attention on something else: a book, a videogame, a movie. Anything. The sooner you IGNORE the panic attack feelings the sooner they will go away and the sooner they will never come back. TRUST ME.

    • Hurp, my therapist taught me the art of distraction as well. And that is really good advice. When you are in a moment of high anxiety the best thing you can do is distract yourself, find something else to focus on and your anxiety will fade.

  4. I have anxiety disorder, and my boyfriend does as well. I find it makes no difference whatsoever but my boyfriend says it helps. To quote him “Yeah, I’m still anxious. But now I just don’t give a damn,”

  5. coffeencannabis on

    I have bipolar disorder and anxiety also… I also have seizures, which is the main reason I smoke, other than pleasure. I find that cannabis helps me to relax and relieves my anxiety rather than exacerbate it.. just me I guess… but I no longer have to take meds for anxiety as long as I have cannabis to alleviate it.

  6. Pingback: Just Smoked A Fatty... Now I'm Fighting Nap Time | Marijuana.com

  7. Marilu Roder on

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