Quitting Marijuana – 10 Things to Do before Your Quit Date
When deciding to quit marijuana, a little planning and preparation goes a long way. Here are 10 simple exercises to complete in the days leading up to your quit attempt. You don’t have to do them all (you can pick and choose which make sense to you) but none take much time and they’re all quite beneficial.
10 Ways to Get Ready for Your Quit Date
1. Tell a Friend about Your Quit Plan
Tell a friend or loved-one about your plan to quit, and if possible/sensible, ask this person for support during the first weeks of abstinence. While you don’t have to tell anyone of your plans, getting a loved-one involved takes your decision to quit from an idea in your head to an actual plan in-motion – making it harder for you to give up before you even get started!
Since you may experience moodiness, irritability or even aggression when quitting, informing those around you about your quit attempt can help them to understand your behaviors and offer extra understanding and support.
2. Make a List of Dangerous Situations to Avoid
You can avoid some temptation by limiting your exposure to people, places and things that remind you of getting high. Make a list of your personal high-risk situations and relationships and commit to avoiding these, as much as possible, for the first week or so.
It’s also helpful to think now about what you’ll do when exposed to a high-risk person or situation, for example:
- If you always smoke a joint the minute you get home from work.
- You might want to avoid going straight home from work, and instead go to the gym for a workout and then out to grab a bite of dinner.
Other strategies you might use when exposed to a high-risk situation include:
- Calling someone from your support network.
- Physically getting out of the situation.
- Engaging in a distracting activity.
3. Reduce Your Responsibilities
Don’t pick the most stressful week of the year as your quit time. Withdrawal symptoms like irritability and insomnia can make a low-key week feel tense enough, so if you can, try to pick an appropriate time for your quit date and try to reduce your responsibilities for at least the first few days after your quit day.
4. Make a List of Your Reasons for Quitting
Why are you quitting?
Take some time to write down a list of 5 or more of your reasons for wanting to quit – both the negatives you hope to avoid/minimize and the positives you're looking forward to: for example:
- Fewer money problems from spending all my cash on marijuana.
- Improving my short term memory/thinking abilities.
- Fewer fights with my spouse, who disagrees with my smoking habit.1
5. Make a List of Fun Things to Do
It’s hard to resist cravings when sitting around at home, bored out of your mind!
Make a list now of fun activities you don’t associate with smoking. Once you quit, try to fill your free time with these enjoyable distraction activities.
You may also want to make a list of people to call during the first week; ideally people who don’t smoke – or who won’t smoke around you.
6. Learn One Stress-Busting Deep Breathing Exercise
Don’t let stress and irritability end your quit attempt.
Stress, cravings and irritability can lead to impulsive choices and an early end to your quit attempt. Since you’ll probably feel tested at times, take some time in the week leading up to your quit attempt to learn at least one simple deep breathing exercise.
Deep belly breathing, for example, can take you from complete tension to moderate relaxation in less than a minute!
7. Learn at Least One Technique for Managing Cravings
No matter how determinately you try to avoid high risk situations, you’re probably going to experience marijuana cravings – and cravings are recovery killers.
Don’t get caught off guard – learn at least one effective technique for coping with cravings, like the 4 Ds, or Urge Surfing.
8. Get Rid of Your Paraphernalia
A day or so before your quit date, get rid of everything and anything you use to smoke marijuana. Give away or throw out your bong, vaporizer, pipes, rolling papers (keep a few just to make it through the day) and anything else you’ve got.
Tossing your equipment underscores your commitment to actual change. Keeping stuff around ‘just in case’ sets you up for easy failure.
9. Research Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Take a few minutes to learn about what marijuana withdrawal symptoms you might expect – and to learn how you can cope with these symptoms.
10. Think of Ways to Reward Yourself
If you’re like a lot of heavy smokers, you use marijuana as a way to reward yourself for completing tasks and for moments of celebration.
What will you do now to reward yourself in such situations? Make up a list of a few possible rewards.
Prepare and Succeed
Spending a few hours getting ready for your life-changing quit attempt makes very good sense – for example, studies show that people who learn and make use of coping strategies when quitting are more than twice as likely to succeed as people who don’t.2
With planning and preparation, most people can quit on their own. However, if despite your best efforts and despite using coping strategies to manage cravings you cannot maintain the abstinence you seek, you should consider getting professional help, for example with an addiction counselor or via a marijuana addiction treatment program.
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