I used pot to kick cocaine

To me, weed is pretty harmless -- and can even do some good


Cary Tennis
June 11, 2010 4:20AM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I wanted to share my story of marijuana use because I believe that there are positive aspects to smoking pot. At 16 I started smoking because I was the new kid in town, feeling isolated and wanting to fit in. This was in the mid 1970s and I'm sure it is a very standard story. We would have fit in perfectly in a scene from the movie "Dazed and Confused." From then on I was a casual user at parties and on weekends. I went to college as a science major and I'm pretty sure that smoking pot did not greatly affect my grades or life in any negative way. It was in the early 1980s that I was dating a guy who started selling cocaine and I started to use it often. It was my last year of college and my grades definitely showed a serious decline. After more than a year of heavy use and weekends of very little sleep I started to realize that I had a problem. I broke up with the boyfriend due to cocaine primarily but still hung out with my coke buddies and wasted huge amounts of money in student loans and pay. I was in the thick of addiction but managed to graduate and get a good lab job and so I was very lucky in that respect.

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So here is my story of pot to the rescue. I was struggling mightily with my urges to go out to the bar at night where I knew I could score, and sometimes I failed to resist, but the best way for me to stay home and avoid temptation was to simply smoke pot until all I wanted to do was sit in front of the TV. By smoking a lot of pot I was able to cut out coke entirely. Eventually I gave up pot for years but I see no real danger in the casual use of it.

I just wish that people would quit lumping marijuana and hard drugs like cocaine and heroin together. Hopefully, a massive education campaign will do the trick. I applaud the work that you do and I get an immense spiritual lift from reading your column and am very grateful to have no problem to present you.

The Pot Booster

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Dear Pot Booster,

Thank you for that. It sounds like your use of pot was medicinal. You used it as a sedative. Perhaps it also served as a replacement drug for getting through withdrawal.

For me, your story is a trigger -- not for drug use, but for memory. I do not really have a desire to use drugs today. I have a desire to understand. As in your case, my early drug use had to do with a desire to belong, to establish myself as -- in my case -- a man, as fearless, as a member of the tribe. It was about cementing membership in a social group and also about expanding that social group by connecting with others -- to smoke a joint with a stranger at a rock festival or at a bus station in some forgotten town, to slip out back of the bar and share a smoke, to light up in the car with a congenial hitchhiker, to pass a joint around the table after a good meal, to share a little weed while playing music or standing in the audience: These were ways for a young man to experience connection and belonging.

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What this implies is that the culture we were living in was deficient in such opportunities. That simple fact lies at the heart of a great deal.

Wow, it just hit me: The first time I used cocaine I shot it up. It makes my heart pound to remember. But yes, this is true: I came back to my little suburban Florida town after a brief stint at a junior college up state, and my best friend and traveling buddy had got ahold of some cocaine. Gee, this is amazing, I haven't thought of this in ages. He called me up and was very secretive. I remember answering the phone in the living room and looking around at my mom. He wouldn't tell me what was up. It was kind of a dare, an adventure. So I drove out to his house without telling anyone where I was going. I was into yoga, fasting and chanting at the time. I drove out to his house and he and another friend were there, and he said he had a surprise. So he brought out the cocaine and the needles and cooked it up and sterilized the needle and tied me off and shot me up with cocaine.

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I felt the most enormous rush.

I took off my clothes, stood on my head yoga style and started chanting.

Wow, talk about an embarrassing recollection. OK, so there you have it. I was one of these crazy hippie earth kids. I felt I was getting in touch with the gods.

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Cary Tennis

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