Ethan A. — April 19, 2022

My Experience with CIP

     Growing up, I’ve always been an anxious kid. I’m not going to lie, my anxiety never stopped me from being a troublemaker despite the consequences. Although I was in the honor roll in middle school, high school was a different story. During my senior year, I had more absences than days I showed up. In fact, during our “most likely to” ceremony, I got voted as most likely to miss their own wedding. How embarrassing is that? What had changed between junior year and senior year? What happened to a B-average student that suddenly had one D and all F’s? I didn’t have perfect attendance by any means my first 3 years of high school, but I sure as hell wasn’t ditching over 50 days of school like I did my senior year. What changed? I started smoking pot.

     I don’t remember the very first time I smoked, but I certainly remember the last. I was either 16 or 17 when I became curious of weed and its seemingly fun and therapeutic effects. It sounded perfect for me as a bored, anxious kid that just wanted some sort of coping tool. Albeit now I see it more as a weapon than a tool. I would smoke a bowl here and there out of a little purple pipe that my friends and I would pass around after school in my backyard, not a worry in the world. In time, the pipe became inadequate for our stoner needs. I had to upgrade to a 3-foot bong with perks and cool water filters on it. I prided myself on how clean I kept it, and all of my friends loved it. It was the bong. It would get you faded with one hit. It felt so harmless. Sometimes we would barricade ourselves in the egress window in the basement. You know, the little space that usually has a ladder that leads up to the outside? Yeah, that. We would place a disassembled door on top of it, use a blanket to cover up any cracks, and then shut ourselves inside and smoke. This would create a hot-boxing effect that exemplified the high. Moreover, we would lock ourselves in the car and do the same thing, although we resorted to the egress method because that stench would linger for weeks.

     Now that you know the when and where, it’s time to discuss the feeling. I was super giggly and curious every time I got high. I was more friendly, relaxed, and I even thought I was a better driver. You heard that right, a better driver, despite me rear ending my mom’s car and almost getting in a rollover accident in my Mustang. Oh, and running several red lights. Oh, and speeding not caring about my surroundings. Yeah, I was definitely a better driver. In the beginning, the high felt like any stereotypical euphoria experience from drugs. The munchies, the giggles, even the occasional bad trip. I laugh when I hear people say “bad trip.” You have no idea.

     My green habit started to take a dark turn towards the end of senior year. Bud is expensive. When you gain a tolerance from flower, it becomes extra expensive when you have to buy more at each trip to your local drug dealer (this was right before it was legal). Working part time, I couldn’t keep up with the cost. Neither could my best friend, Khari, who was living with me at the time. The solution was easy. Steal money, particularly from my mom. My poor, poor mom. She never knew. She would give me $100 for groceries, and I would spend 60 towards what she intended and the rest on marijuana. She never noticed believe it or not. Just never brought home any receipts. This method worked for a while, but it wasn’t enough for my friend Khari. More on that later. We would do anything for a quick high. In fact, when we couldn’t locate a bong, we make-shifted one with an apple and a pen.

That’s how it went for months on end. Steal from mom, buy weed, smoke. Steal from mom, buy weed, smoke. When I look back, there wasn’t really much else to it. No ambitions, no plans, no goals besides who can out-smoke the other.

     If I could pinpoint the moment where sh*t started to hit the fan, it was the day my sister’s ex-boyfriend (ex for a very good reason), introduced me to a thing called dabbing. Dabbing, a.k.a. skunk, glass, wax, shatter, high-potent marijuana. A.k.a. my biggest regret in life. With quadruple the amount of THC, dabs are on a whole other ball game. The highs were more intense. I would get withdrawal headaches. I couldn’t function without it. I couldn’t sleep without it. But I loved it. The feeling was surreal at first, being numb and couch-locked with no worries in the world. Playing video games was more fun, going outside made everything seem so pleasant and beautiful. Then there were the times I would take such a big hit I would black out. Yeah, that definitely has to be good for your brain.

The process of dabbing is dangerous. My friends and I used two different methods. We of course used old glory, the 3-foot bong, but with a few modifications. The glass piece where the weed is supposed to go got replaced by a metal contraption that you would heat up with a butane torch to melt the shatter and inhale it. The other method was via nectar collector. It was a hand-held, decorative piece of glass in which you would use the same torch to heat up the end of it and inhale like a straw. This was my favorite method, and because wax is so sticky, some of the residue left behind could be scraped off with a butter knife. That way, all you do is heat up the knife and smoke directly off of it to get a different kind of high. When I say different kind of high, it’s like being wine drunk vs. hard liquor drunk. It was just different. No other way to explain it.

When you’re dealing with temperatures upwards of 700 degrees, accidents are bound to happen. There are still burn marks on my carpet. My poor cat burnt his whiskers on the tip of the nectar collector, there’s holes in window curtains from us attempting to mask the smell by blowing it out the window. One painful memory was when I was so high that I put my mouth on the wrong end, and you can use your imagination for the rest. My bottom lip is still scarred to this day.

By the time summer hit, things really started to go downhill. To be honest, the period I spent dabbing was very blurry with a few nightmarish clarities in between. However, I remember the day vividly where the highs didn’t feel like the same giggly and fun experience anymore.

I was in our usual spot in the backyard at the side of the house, high as a kite under a beautiful blossoming tree with white pedals falling from it. “Ethan!” My mom yelled from upstairs. I quickly jolt up to my friends’ confusion and run upstairs, only to find my mom was sleeping. She hadn’t called my name. At the time I didn’t think much of it. I was a little concerned, so I stopped smoking and went inside. As my friends were having a conversation, I was zoning out. My eyes were glazed and all I could hear was the sound of cat food being crunched and eaten. I had 4 cats, so I disregarded it like white noise, except this time it was much louder and more pronounced. I look over to the food bowl, and there wasn’t a cat in sight. Little did I know I had back-to-back auditory hallucinations. Little did I know it was just the beginning.

It got stranger from there. I started taking considerable admiration and intrigument to inanimate objects. As I sit in the basement, there lay a green towel right next to me. But why is the towel green? Why is it that, in this precise moment in time, I have found interest in this towel? What could it mean? I had to get to the bottom of it. The next couple days I had the same fixation with a lighter. A white lighter. So now we have a green towel and a white lighter. The universe was trying to tell me something but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. These two objects were trying to tell me something, sending me messages as I pull my hair out trying to discover what these two things had in common, trying to get the sense of everything. Khari egging me on saying I better get to the bottom of it, not knowing it was feeding my delusion. All those weird thoughts only happened when I was high, but it quickly becomes a problem when you start having those thoughts when you’re not intoxicated.

Things between Khari and I were getting tense. I grew an immense amount of distrust in him for whatever reason. Turns out my intuition was correct. On a relatively calm night, Khari came home with Popeyes and was refusing to share it with me. No big deal, I’ll just go grab something from upstairs. However, as I walked upstairs, my mom pulled me aside and showed me her bank statements. At first, I was nervous because I thought she finally caught up with my grocery money scheme but it turns out it was much, much worse. I started seeing Khari’s name pop up a lot; turns out he’s been using my mom’s credit card for months without her knowing. Ended up stealing over $4,000. To add salt to the wound, the last purchase was from Popeyes. He stole from my mom to buy chicken wings and didn’t bother sharing with me. Ridiculous. Anyway, I run downstairs and calmly place the iPad with the bank statements in front of him. He starts scrolling through it ferociously, pulling at his hair and repeating “No, no, no!” under his breathe. I told him in a shockingly calm voice, “I think you should leave.” Without saying a word, he reaches out to grab a bong and I smash it into pieces with a clean swing of a butane torch. He runs upstairs and gathers his belongings and leaves a rushed trail of clothes to his car. That would be the last time I saw him. I lost my best friend to this stupid drug and the desperation and disgust it brings out in people. Before I went on a rampage smashing all of my bongs and throwing away all my weed, I took one last hit from old reliable.

As I inhale the smoke to the sound of gargling bong water, I could feel a snap in my head. A literal switch like I have opened the gates of hell. My psychosis had officially begun. For the next two months I stayed clean but experienced the most fear I have ever felt in my entire life. In between my psychosis I had moments of clarity, which I then used as an opportunity to document as much as I could in a notebook. Here’s the very first excerpt:

“I load a bowl into my bong of white Urkle kush, a [mostly] sativa strain. At first, I was fine. Then things went downhill real quick. Paranoia kicked in. I started questioning everything and everybody. I was having conversations in my head with people I knew. I was getting in arguments with them. I heard whispers and experienced overlapping thoughts. I was thinking about a thousand things at once and it was very overwhelming. I had a bunch of genius ideas, but I couldn’t keep track of them. My mouth was dry and I had a blank gaze as rushes of emotions took over. My ears were ringing, and my mind wouldn’t shut up. I grabbed my head trying to mute the sounds and thoughts in my brain. I felt like I was going crazy. I was bawling my eyes out.”

The rambles continue page after page. My luck had it where I ended up working the next morning after D-day. I was unemployed in about a week because the voices in my head were too distracting for me to focus. The next month or so was filled with the combination of bizarre thoughts and dreams, and intense fear and anxiety. The best way I can describe what I was going through is from excerpts from my thought journal (or diary). I prefer thought journal, but to be honest, it’s a diary.

8/16/2017

“…my thoughts were extra scary tonight. There’s this name: “Clyde.” It just keeps popping in my head, usually when I’m super paranoid or in my hyper-fixated-fear-of-getting-schizophrenia mindset. Repetitive thoughts. There’s a voice in my head repeating “you die” nonstop. I think I am experiencing thought blocking because I’m stopping mid-sentence. I pause when I write and my mind goes blank. When I was trying to sleep, random noises kept going off in my head. I’m so angry and scared and stressed. I can’t even remember the thoughts I had that made me want to start this entry in the first place. It’s just that… man why did I ever have to smoke weed…

Sometimes I get these weird images that flash in my head. It’s usually of a scary face but I can’t really make it out. And sometimes I imagine myself completely losing my sh*t, and that happens relatively often.”

8/17/2017

I’m so f*cking mad. This is not f*cking fair. I never asked for this bullsh*t. I just want it to stop! I can’t even imagine what my life was like before smoking weed but I want to go back to that f*cking moment.”

8/18/2017

“[I was walking my dog] As we were approaching the front door, I noticed a towel sitting on a small wooden table on our front porch. But I didn’t see it as a towel at first. I saw a pile of cat-pamphlets. I don’t know how else to f*cking describe it. I know it sounds crazy and I know it’s a possible hallucination. Just like that, my mood was ruined for the night.”

8/20/2017

“Last night was rough as I was trying to fall asleep. I was having a bunch of random, disconnected thoughts again. Some of them didn’t even seem like my own… random phrases, exactly like surfing through a bunch of channels on TV. Next time it happens, I’ll try to write them down but it’s so hard to keep up. One thing to point out that really stresses me is that some of the thoughts aren’t my own voice (my own internal monologue). Was it Clyde?” As a side note, you know you have a problem when you start naming the voices in your head.

8/22/2017

“Today’s pretty bad, specifically after my therapy session. My mind is just so overwhelmed. I’m so tired. So much confusion. Was I hallucinating that bug or was it a dream? Do I have multiple personalities because some nonsense keeps popping up in my head? Clyde, you’re not f*cking real. I am Ethan Curtis Andrew. One person. One mind.”

     The hallucinations were undeniably terrible. I never heard any voices externally, but just as noted in my journal, I did have thoughts that didn’t feel like my own. In fact, although I couldn’t audibly hear the voices, it was still one of my biggest triggers for my schizophrenia fear. The voices that lived inside my head were usually very hostile and would give me commands telling me to do something I didn’t want to do. For example, one day when I was out checking the mail, my neighbor’s golden doodle ran across the street to say “hello,” but my mind had a different response. “Hurt the f*cking dog! It’s dangerous!” my mind would exclaim. As an animal-lover this was obviously unsettling to me. I gently pet the good boy and let him run back to my neighbors, feeling heartbroken.

     The voices I could talk myself out of using some flawed form of introspection, because if I wasn’t hearing anything, I wasn’t going crazy. On the other hand, the visual hallucinations were an experience that I had trouble wrapping my head around and convincing myself things were OK. There was one hallucination that still gives me tremors to this day. You know that red balloon from Stephen King’s IT? Well, when I was driving home from a friend’s house during a cold August night, I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a red balloon gliding across the street. I didn’t think much of it until a tried to go to bed that same night. Was there really a balloon? Why did that hallucination last longer than the ones I previously experienced? I needed answers. In only my boxers, I go outside at 2 in the morning desperately trying to find that red balloon. It was snowing hard, so I tried to look for lines in the snow that could’ve been caused by the string of a gliding balloon. I thought if I ended up finding it that means I wasn’t going crazy. I probably circled around the block a dozen times. I never found the red balloon.

     Then there was of course the stereotypical paranoia that is a hallmark feature of psychosis. I remember going to my local grocery store King Soopers in the earlier stages of my psychosis and going through self-checkout. As my receipt started to print, I was getting increasingly anxious that the lady next to me was going to steal my receipt. She knew something about me and needed the receipt as evidence against me. Whatever the hell that means. There would also be times where I’d take an extra-long route home to ensure that I was not being tailed by the car behind me. Not fun.

     Believe it or not, the hallucinations and paranoia weren’t even the worst part about psychosis for me. Sleep disturbances are not talked about enough when it comes to psychosis. There were these dreams; sick, vivid dreams. So detailed I sometimes couldn’t distinguish between what was real and what wasn’t. The plot of the dreams were usually simple, I’d be hanging out with my friends or running errands. However, when I woke up, I’d be confused if my dream actually happened. It got to the point where I’d be with my friends and ask “Do you remember that time we did this?” and they would all look at me puzzled. It was then I realized that it was a dream.

     If that isn’t horrifying enough, imagine psychosis nightmares. They were plentiful. To this day I have a hard time remembering my dreams, which is normal for the most part. However, there’s one nightmare that I will never forget. The nightmare consisted of me in the fetal position beside my bed. I was just lying there, a lost soul in time. I walk over to a mirror on the wall and I notice I don’t have eyes; the sockets are glued shut but I can still see myself in the reflection. Then a smile emerges and it keeps getting bigger. It runs from ear to ear and then the mouth opens revealing thousands of shark-like teeth. Then I woke up.

     I also had my fair share of sleep paralysis, which is terrible even when you’re not in a psychotic state of mind. I would occasionally experience an out-of-body phenomenon during the stages of just starting to wake up. It was almost like my soul was getting out of bed, but my body was lagging behind. I thought I reached the doorknob to exit my room, but it turns out I never got that far and was just lying on the floor, dazed and confused. Even at rest, psychosis was still affecting me.

     As horrible as going through psychosis was, there were some diamonds in the rust. Mixed randomly in my thought journal are various poems, one of which I’d like to share:

Nobody was born to hate

Our purpose is to love

Stop being so fixated on things

And take a look at the stars above.

The anxiety that causes me to choke

Only got worse because of the weed I used to smoke

I look back at it now with so much regret

The damage it caused to my mind

Sometimes all you need is to forgive and forget

So much fear about what the future holds

When in reality

You’re in control on how it all unfolds

I get frustrated on how strange my mind can be

The pills that I take only do so much for me

Don’t give up on life when times are tough

The future will be better

Even if you think you’ve had enough

For the sake of my future kids that I hope to influence

I can’t do that if I stay under the influence

Sometimes goals feel so out of range

And they will be if you’re not subject to change

For every step back I take

I take 2 steps forward

Sharing my thoughts

The pen is mightier than the sword

     September couldn’t come fast enough. That was when the healing really started to take form. I started taking fish oil pills daily from a random psychosis-prevention study I read online, visiting my therapist regularly, but most importantly, staying abstinent. The months ahead were still a little rocky, as I discovered new obsessions with death, religion, and the afterlife. Something I won’t dive into but I’ll leave it with this last poem I wrote in recovery called “Significantly Insignificant:”

I look up at the stars and can’t help but cry

Soaking up the beauty of the cosmos that will vanish the day I die

I get frustrated with the universe because of the reality that I have to face

Then the tears subside and

I thank the universe for life in the first place.

     Just like that, a chapter of my life was closed, at least for a while. I was unaware that the unanticipated sequel would occur almost 5 years down the road. I hadn’t relapsed to marijuana use, but I seriously started questioning my mental health. I wasn’t doing so hot, was having a lot of crying spells and mental breakdowns. I even thought I was seeing things again. I would look down and briefly confuse a jacket on the floor to be my dog, or a coat hanging on the wall to be a person. It’s kind of hard to explain. My dreams were becoming increasingly more vivid. Was this it? Was I finally developing schizophrenia?  I had no idea why I was so sensitive or scared. I started to reminisce on my past and how I ended up this way. Like I said before, I know I was always an anxious kid, but was I really this anxious? What events transcribed that led me to becoming such a fragile individual? The first thing that came to mind was my psychosis. Once it was over, I forced myself to move on from it and leave it in the past, but now that I was showing some pretty worrying signs, I decided to dive into research on what exactly did happen to me. Man, that was a bad idea in retrospect.

     If you went through my search history a couple months ago, all you would see are searches consisting along the lines of:

“Will I get schizophrenia from smoking weed?”

“Cannabis-induced psychosis conversion rates to schizophrenia.”

“Prognosis/outlook for CIP.”

“Will I be okay after going through CIP?”

“Is my brain permanently damaged from THC”?

“What structural changes in the brain take place after smoking weed in adolescence?”

“CIP and schizophrenia suicide rate.”

“How to forgive yourself”

     I could keep going. My impulse to look into things and research got so bad that it was hindering my ability to work and maintain relationships. I was obsessed. The worst part? All the search answers to my questions were not good news. They kept confirming all my fears. Yes, I probably lost IQ points. Yes, I have a higher chance of schizophrenia. That last statement alone still brings chills to my core. I read somewhere that CIP has about a 50% conversion rate to chronic schizophrenia in people even without a history of mental illness. If that doesn’t suck enough, the people who do develop schizophrenia because of cannabis use are much more likely to be treatment-adherent and have more paranoid, delusional symptoms. I didn’t like my sanity being determined by a coin flip, especially since I had other risk factors present. 50 percent. An unbelievably high number that was ringing in my head nonstop. To me, it was a 50% chance I’d live, and a 50% chance I would end up killing myself. The thought became so encompassing and traumatic for me that I lost my job and had to be hospitalized voluntarily for a suicide attempt. I was driving home and kept having these impulses to slam into the car next to me or ram into a guard rail on the highway. The thoughts became so intrusive that I ended up just closing my eyes on the freeway. It was then I knew I needed help.

     The hospital stay was awful. I couldn’t sleep during the initial 72 hour hold because nurses kept coming in, bothering me with IVs and questions. The patient next door yelling at the top of her lungs for her husband hours on end didn’t help, either. One of the many psychiatrists I spoke to kept reiterating how important it was to improve my quality of life. I’m not going to lie, that hit hard. Quality of life. Did I not have a good life? I loved my family, my friends, my girlfriend, but perhaps I didn’t love the most important person- myself. Well, it’s not that I didn’t love myself, I just couldn’t accept myself. Big difference there. I hated that I wasn’t neurotypical, but I wanted to make sure I was ultimately safe. After the 72-hour hold, I was transferred to an inpatient program. I was roomed with a bunch of people way crazier than I was. We couldn’t use our cell phones, but luckily there was a TV in a glass display case (so we don’t strangle ourselves or each other with the HDMI cable) where we had free range access to Netflix. When I say free range, we got to choose what movies we wanted to watch, but the nurses didn’t trust us with the remote – something I found rather hilarious. We had access to showers, but no extra clothes. I was stuck wearing the same underwear with the same hospital gown for a week straight. We had the worst prison-esc food you could imagine, which is why I spent most of my time there not eating. It was not a healing experience, so most of my stay at Hotel California was spent forcing myself to sleep. But my thoughts kept me awake. I had tried to convince myself that everything was going to be okay and to accept the fact that my life is going to change forever. I would be in and out of mental institutions while my friends and families are leading successful lives and getting married and having kids. I would be doomed to have a mediocre quality of life and be a burden to everyone around me. The voices in my head were back. To be clear, they weren’t auditory hallucinations, they were internalized insults and fear-mongering thoughts that didn’t seem like my own internal monologue. The nurses reassured me that I wasn’t schizophrenic and gave me some fast-acting anxiety medication to put me to sleep.

     Anyway, that was the longest week ever. Shortly after being released, I started looking into articles again and spiraling myself out. Back to the hospital we go. I wish I was kidding. This time, it was an outpatient program that lasted a month, which really helped. I was diagnosed with major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (shocker), and obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD really surprised me. It’s not what you typically think of when you think OCD. I wasn’t a germaphobe or incredibly organized, I just had obsessive thoughts and urges to look into things which was considered my compulsion. I had to satisfy that compulsion some way or another. The method I used to satisfy my urges was to look into articles and research various psychosis-related topics, despite how unproductive it was towards my mental health. As my therapist would say I was feeding my over-checker disorder, and my oh my, feeding it was expensive. Luckily, I had good insurance, because just that week stay costed about $20,000. I still has to pay several thousand out of pocket. That’s only the hospital bills. I went on some spending sprees myself as well. I was worried about having structural brain damage after all that time smoking weed, so I spent $800 on an MRI. I was worried about my intelligence declining, so I spent $500 on an IQ test. Dead serious.

   In case you were wondering, the results of the MRI and IQ test had some head-scratching results. One of the neuroradiologist’s findings really struck me on the MRI. “A few small hemispheric foci of white matter T2 prolongation may be within the limits of normal for the patient’s age or perhaps related to migraine headaches or other remote insult.” To be fair, I have no idea what the hell most of that meant. However, “other remote insult” is intriguing. Remote insult? Could that be damage caused by smoking weed in the past? There’s no way to know for sure because I don’t have an MRI to compare before and after cannabis usage, so that’s up in the air. Other than that, I was thankful to see my MRI was normal with “no acute findings.” That was a breath of fresh air. As for my IQ test, my overall full-scale IQ was 128, according to the standardized WAIS 4th edition Adult IQ test. For those who don’t know, this test subcategorizes IQ into 4 subsets, which are verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. All but one category I scored above the 90th percentile. Why am I telling you this? Because the one category that I scored the lowest, in the 75th percentile, was in working memory, something that is proven to be negatively affected from cannabis consumption. Now, is this definitive truth that A caused B? Not necessarily, but it’s hard not to contemplate the findings.

    In my mission to prove that I was okay by taking all these reassuring tests, there came a cost. It caused emotional turmoil between my family and my girlfriend. The ridiculous spending, the constant phone calls when I needed reassurance, and the fear of leaving me alone with my thoughts and emotions all struck fear into the minds of my loved ones. I asked my sister to describe how she felt during those hellish couple of months. Here’s what she said:

“I don’t think the fear ever goes away. Fear that I’ll get a call from his girlfriend in tears telling me she found him dead. I often run through scenarios about how I’d cope after he’s gone. Going through speeches in my head that I would say during his funeral. ‘He was my best friend…’ things like that. That’s how often the calls were. He would call me in tears telling me he isn’t doing well, that he is hallucinating or that he looked up something online. The calls have become less frequent in the last few months, but I will never not have anxiety when I see that I’ve missed one of his calls. Sometimes I would call him back and he wouldn’t answer right away, and my mind immediately goes to ‘this is it. This is the missed call that I will regret for the rest of my life,’ and then he would finally call me back. To this day I let out a breath of relief when I hear his voice. If I could go back in time and take back all of the drugs I introduced him to, I would. I believe this was my fault. I didn’t protect him like a big sister should, and I will regret that forever. But I believe everything happens for a reason, that this needed to happen in order for him to tell his story and save someone else. Drug-induced psychosis is not something to take lightly. Save yourself the money, the trauma, the addiction, and what it does to your mind. I know it’s cheesy, but say no to drugs. It’s truly not worth it.”

     I put my loved ones through a state of agony and confusion because of my drastic shift in personality and mood. Why am I going into such dramatic detail? I want people to see the butterfly effect that smoking marijuana caused. I went from smoking flower to have fun and ease my anxiety to ending up in a psych ward after trying to kill myself on the freeway. The last time I dabbed was 5 years ago, and I’m still not in the clear! I can’t help but think about how my life would’ve turned out if I was never introduced to that stupid plant! Maybe I would’ve finished my degree on time. Maybe I would have my mental health under control. Maybe my memory would be sharper, my thoughts less foggy. I have an amazing job now, but what about the rest of my career potential? I read a story from a case study of 6 individuals that went through CIP. Of the six, half of them developed schizophrenia, half of them didn’t. Very similar results across the board on the subject. There goes that damn 50% again. On a positive note, the 3 that didn’t go on to develop schizophrenia all had something in common. All 3 stayed abstinent ever since their index psychotic episode. However, just like me, they are still enduring struggles. In fact, one man’s story really sent me emotionally spiraling. He had to quit his job after experiencing CIP, even while being fully recovered. He had to quit because his brain could no longer keep up with the mental demands his job required. In other words, he feels like he got dumber. How absolutely terrible.

     A lot of you may think I was predisposed to have mental illness, and that may be true. But there’s one thing I know for sure. Weed changed me. It made whatever I had going on worse. No one is 100% immune from developing a psychosis from marijuana. The toll it takes on your mind, especially at such a young and vulnerable age is not worth it. The worst part is, there is some lasting damage even when you decide to quit. I don’t know if the effects are reversible. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience psychosis again. I don’t know what the future holds. What I know for damn certainty is I am never going near marijuana again. Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made, an important point for those who are still struggling with cannabis addiction. My thoughts are clearer now, I’m monitoring my stress levels, and I’m succeeding in all facets of life. I’m working full time as an IT professional, and plan on going back to school shortly. My relationships are rekindled, my brain is stabilized with the help of antidepressants and a low dose of antipsychotics to help with the intrusive thoughts. I see a therapist regularly to maintain my mental health, and I’ve stopped looking into articles about cannabis-induced psychosis and schizophrenia. I am leading a much more productive and meaningful life. It’s a closed chapter now. Things will get better, and you’ll notice remarkable improvements in every aspect of your life once you restrain from using. I’ve read too many heartbreaking stories about teens who have taken their lives because they assumed their brain would never bounce back. I am living proof that it does. Please don’t give up.

     I’m going to wrap things up, but remember Khari? He didn’t develop psychosis that I’m aware of, but he dropped out of college and has been unemployed for years according to his ex-girlfriend. He also continues to rob and steal from his loved ones to buy more weed.

     Another friend of mine, let’s call him Q, asked me a rather troubling question the other day. Q had been an avid pot smoker since he was only 12 years old and has been using it daily ever since. At 21 years old, that’s almost an entire decade of brain abuse. We’re dining out and he leans over and asks me: “Do you ever have vivid dreams?”

Watch the interview Ethan did with Laura on 4/19/22

3 Replies to “Ethan A. — April 19, 2022”

  1. Thank you for sharing. In my eyes, every single person that comes forward and shares their story is heroic in destigmatizing this addiction. Congratulations on getting sober!

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