Weed PAWS and Migraine after relapse

Postby new-scheme » Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:23 pm

Hi All - I've been visiting the site off an on for a couple years, and wanted to contribute a specific development in my own quitting experience:
I smoked weed pretty heavily from 17 on, for almost 20 years total. Took a couple years off toward the middle, and the quantity went down the last 5 years or so. BUT - it was regular almost the whole time. I struggled with bursts of panic attacks starting in my mid-20s, and self-medicated for those and general anxiety/boredom. When I finally quit cold turkey in August of 2019 I had a lot of the same symptoms many here have described, the worst being a terrible wave of panic attacks starting about a week after I quit. They were daily for about a week, always arriving in the afternoon (while I was at work). I finally began seeing a therapist, and was also scared off smoking at that point. When I quit it was more "I need a real break, at least for a while," but after getting past the worst of acute withdrawal after a few weeks, it felt more solid.
From a month clean to about six months I had waves of general anxiety (though less panic), worked through some long-ignored stuff in therapy and had many physical symptoms: tingling in fingers, mild gastro-intestinal stuff and blurred vision, especially in my left eye. From month six until recently (almost two years), the vision issues came and went, but lessened overall.

The reason I'm posting: I can confirm something I've seen on this forum a few places. Relapsing, and having even a little bit of weed can (at least briefly) send you back to square one. Since I quit almost 2 years ago, I have picked up a gram or had a few 5mg edibles a handful of times (live in a state where it's legal). I would get really stoned off a small quantity, enjoy it, miss it a little, but mostly sit around for a Sunday and then feel groggy Monday and return to my sober life. Then, my wife was out of town for Memorial Day weekend and I was like "**** it, I'll pick up a gram" - work's been stressful, didn't have other plans, etc. Smoked small quantities (that gram lasted 3 nights), and sort of enjoyed it, but didn't miss the drag on my energy/morning feelings, etc. Tossed the last of it Sunday eve and felt like "well, I'm finally totally bored with that - no novelty left to it/just something I used to do".

Then a few days later, I had a terrible migraine that came out of nowhere. Totally shut me down. I have had 1-2 of them a year since I was in my mid-20s (and THC does help with the symptoms, though I had no interest this time). Not fun, but sort of moved on. Then I had a second migraine a couple days after the first, again out of nowhere (first one seemed triggered by sun glare). Shut me down again, freaked out, slept most of the day. And ever since, I've had the blurred vision off and on, which I know is mostly from THC in my brain again, but makes it very difficult/always assuming another migraine is coming on and kicking off an anxiety cycle. I'm hoping those two migraines are it for a while, and sure they're at least partly due to the relapse and hitting my brain with THC for a few nights.

I certainly don't feel like I'm starting from scratch with recovery/PAWS timeline. I'd had small quantities a few times since I originally stopped and just felt groggy/a little anxious right after. But these migraines and the visual disturbance returning (which I know is anxiety-related AND probably THC withdrawal together) is a great reminder. I was 100% done with weed as regular habit years before I finally quit in mid-2019 (my biggest regret is the 5+ years I continued to smoke regularly after I knew it was a drag on my life - not even thinking of my physical health). But now I know any sort of novelty/break I may feel from even a little THC is completely not worth it. The relapse may not be a starting-over, but I can confirm it can be a real and acute step back with PAWS symptoms. No couch time/takeout tastes amazing weekend is worth even the risk of what I've dealt with the last week.

What does work: regular exercise (something I started like 7 years before quitting), meditation, therapy, regular sleep and cutting back on caffeine. In the midst of doing all that, I continued to be tempted every few months, and finally paid the price. The best advice I have: stop feeling like "it's just weed" - I grew up in a culture (Colorado) where it was totally normalized. I saw alcohol ruin my family and have no interest in joining the "normal Americans" sitting around pickling themselves. But just admitting that THC over all those years did mess me up, and that the "smoke and escape" days are totally over was so difficult. I will always miss the novel feeling of food/music/video games I loved (and then chased for at least a decade), but it's in the past. It may not be meth or heroin, but I can add to the chorus: even a little bit after getting past the worst of withdrawal will be a huge and pointless step backwards.
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2021 6:52 pm
Likes Received: 2

  • Similar Topics
    Last post

Return to Addictions