As some of you may know, I recently underwent the “Sober October challenge” where I was going to abstain from cannabis, alcohol, coffee, among other things – while working out instead. Now as we have reached the final day of October, I am happy to report that tonight at 12:00 AM I’ll be smoking a joint and joining the ranks of “stonerdom”.
I thought it would be a good thing to write this follow up to share the experiences I have learned, whether or not abstaining weed was difficult to do or not, and which of the challenges I failed.
I can tell you for certain that not smoking weed was by far one of the easier aspects of the challenges, however, there are other substances and activities I found to be more difficult to achieve and I’ll be diving in deeper about “why” I think it was so.
So let’s get into it.
Why did I decide to do Sober October this year?
I wrote extensively about my challenge in the beginning of the month, which you can read here. To give you a quick summary I set out to achieve a few things;
Reduced Sugar Intake
Semen Retention (aka No Fap)
Massive Coffee Reduction
I also set out to do exercise either via Yoga or some other form of exercise.
The reason I decided to take up this challenge was to see how dependent I was on these activities. Michael Pollon, who is a drug researcher and is currently deeply into psychedelic research once said, “You don’t know how much you depend on a drug until it’s gone!”
He was referring to his own experience when he gave up coffee for 90 days. Personally, as a psychonaut, I think it’s important to analyze the relationship we have with the drugs we frequent, which is why I decided on weed, sugar, and coffee as my main substances. The No Fap aspect was more an experiment in self-control which had its own unique results I will continue to explore into the month of November.
As for alcohol, I never really had a problem with it, but I decided that if I can’t smoke weed, I shouldn’t substitute the lack of cannabis for alcohol and therefore prohibited myself from consuming any of these substances.
Now after 31 days of abstinence, I had the opportunity to re-examine my relationship to the drugs I use on the regular. The following will be an exploration of each substance.
To put things into context. As a writer, I can sit in my boxers and smoke weed all day and as along as I deliver on my deadlines – nobody would be the wiser. As a video editor and content creator, I actually like to get a bit high to do these kinds of tasks. It really helps you focus in on the work.
I don’t like to smoke weed as much when I’m writing. It kind of interrupts my focus as I begin to think divergently about many things simultaneously or perhaps get sucked into a “time wasting activity” when I’m doing research.
Therefore, I’m typically sober when I write, but I do enjoy smoking weed throughout the day. I have been smoking daily for the past few years, perhaps with a day or two break, but I can safely say I have smoked weed every day for nearly twenty years.
As mentioned, there might have been a few times where I had to not smoke – but for the vast majority of this time I smoked at least 2-3 times a day. Never amazingly large quantities (not anymore), however, I might have a few tokes of some killa-B in the afternoon and at night to help me unplug from the stresses of the day.
So how did stopping cold turkey go for me?
I’ve heard many people say that “weed is addictive” and perhaps from their personal experience this is true, however, for myself – I didn’t have too much of a problem. Yes, the first two days I did feel a “dip” in my performance and had a slight headache…but I also didn’t get a lot of sleep the previous evening due to a toddler waking up in the early morning hours.
I did notice a bit of irritability with the world in general. Bad drivers seemed to “get to me” a bit more than usual and my level of tolerance to people’s bullshit decreased.
Over time, this waned out and I was okay in general. As for performance at work. I didn’t really notice a big difference. I have always been pretty good at sticking with deadlines and with the lack of weed this didn’t change much.
Maybe I got to work a bit faster, but I also needed to take breaks more frequently whereas with weed, I could easily pull 12-16 hours shifts while smoking weed. Without it, I had to get up and stretch more often. Whether this is a good thing or not is still to be debated.
After the initial 2-3 days of stopping smoking, my body went back to baseline. It turns out that while I truly enjoy smoking cannabis, it’s not difficult for me to abstain from it. In fact, I realized that I don’t even keep my “anxiety” in check because it seems that I don’t have that much baseline anxiety.
This is probably due to the fact that I regularly practice breathwork. Even with cannabis, I check in on my breath daily and if I feel anxiety building up, I breathe it out and reset my brain.
It was certainly interesting since the past month has been one of the most difficult months I had the entire year. I have plenty of reasons to be anxious and the fact that the majority of my clients had some issue in paying me, coupled with cost of living on the rise…it certainly wasn’t easy.
However, I didn’t “need” to smoke cannabis to deal with the anxiety.
Therefore I can only conclude that I smoke cannabis mainly for pleasure. I don’t feel like I have an underlying medical condition that I’m trying to treat with it, not did it affect my performance or behavior in any significant way.
It was relatively easy to abstain with maybe one day of a slight headache as a result of the sudden drop of phytocannabinoids intake.
As a result of the ease of not smoking marijuana, not drinking alcohol was easy. The month leading up to sober October, I did get a bit drunk a few times, however, I can buy a bottle of liquor and it can sit in my kitchen for months before I “want to drink”. Therefore, this was also incredibly simple to abstain from. In fact, from all the substances, this was by far the easiest for me.
Now here was a problem. I realized that I am heavily addicted to caffeine. The first week I limited myself to three cups, then the following week to two, the third week one – however, I couldn’t go without drinking coffee and in the last week said, “Screw this” and drank coffee at will.
I realized that without coffee, I would get major withdrawals in the form of headaches, grogginess, wanting to sleep throughout the day, mental fog, etc.
Considering that I had to produce work, this was something I had to abandon at some point during the month. I also thought, “perhaps I’m trying to NOT-CONSUME too many substances at once, and understanding that coffee helps me with writing and work – I couldn’t afford to NOT drink.
Nonetheless, I did manage to bring my daily coffee intake to no more than three. Of course, there are a few days when I need to pull an “all-nighter” and in those cases I would drink coffee later. However, a few times I drank coffee “too late” and this kept me up throughout the night. Then, with one bad cycle of sleep, I would need more coffee to cope with the day.
At the end of the day, I realized that my heaviest dependency is coffee and that one day I will go for 30-60 days without drinking the elixir. However, before I attempt that I’ll buy a few pounds of “Yerba Mate” – a herbal brew that provides similar effects as coffee, but does not contain caffeine.
The reason I need a substitute is because I will tank at work without one of these stimulants coursing through my veins.
While I might be a chocolate fiend, the truth of the matter is that I typically restrain myself pretty well when it comes to sugar intake. However, for the whole month I decided to even cut back the few indulgences that I do permit myself to have.
Once again, for me it wasn’t too difficult, but I certainly did “feel” the difference in my body. Sugar is definitely one of the more addictive substances on my list and depending on how “hooked” you are to the sweetness, this can prove to be a difficult thing.
In fact, it made me think about how we are priming our children’s minds by giving them candy and the likes. Programs like D.A.R.E always said that cannabis is a gateway drug, but arguably sugar is the first drugs we give to children.
In fact, every Halloween, we let our little drug addicts dress up and beg for their fix so they can binge at a later stage. Sugar is shown to be roughly as addictive as cocaine, and therefore, I think sugar is probably something that we all should consume in moderation.
Nonetheless, I managed to get through the month with minimal sugar intake.
This is a weird experience. Firstly, I discovered that when you stop ejaculating, you can increase testosterone by up to 400% after a few days. While I didn’t make the entire month, I did do significant bouts without “alleviating” myself.
I definitely noticed some benefits, but I’m going to be exploring this subject further in the coming month which is why for the moment I’m going to keep my comments to a minimal. The truth of the matter is that this is an exercise of will. It’s taking your biological imperative and harnessing the energy of it, allowing you to redirect your effort to other things.
I think while Porn isn’t a problem for many people, there are more men struggling with this addiction that many others – and while not “socially accepted”, it’s definitely tolerated.
As I investigate this subject more, I’ll elaborate if you are interesting. Just mail my editor and make the “No Fap” request and I’ll do a deep dive.
Finally, the whole idea of Sober October is to remove bad habits and to focus on better ones. I did manage to do exercise sporadically, but the main issue for me about this was that I have a 14 month old baby, meaning that most of my time is spread between work and taking care of the kid. My wife takes the bulk of the childcare, but I’m the one that takes the night shifts after work – and once the kid sleeps at about 10-11 PM, I try to do some additional side hustles.
This means I sometimes sleep at 1 AM – 2 AM, meaning I don’t wake up early enough to get a good workout. I know this is my inner bitch making up excuses, but I haven’t fully mastered this aspect of my workout routine.
This coming month I’ll be focusing more on that as well, even though I need to move – which will be “kind of” doing exercise due to all the heavy lifting. Also, I do walk the dog for 2-3 km every day – so it’s not like I’m sitting on my ass all day.
Sticky Bottom Line
In conclusion, I found that “quitting weed” was remarkably easy. For someone who has smoked non-stop for a few years to go “cold turkey” and not really have any noticeable side effects makes me realize that “I don’t have a problem with weed!”
While I do find it beneficial to purge every now and then, I think I’ll do it once or twice a year from now on. I’m hoping that by smoking, I can take smaller doses less frequently.
I find great benefit with cannabis, especially due to the nature of my work. Therefore, I believe I’ll be consuming this until I’m grey and old.
The only advice I would give to those who want to quit or cut back on smoking weed – just set yourself a 30-day challenge, follow it through, and in this process you’ll learn more about yourself than you can imagine.