Dear Doctor George...

Dr. George, I am a habitual pot smoker. I drink alcohol, but I don't do any other drugs. I realize that the weed affects my motivation and I want to change my habits, but as a 10 year regular (most daily) smoker, it's tough. When I go without it, I don't sleep well. I have vivid dreams and wake up frequently. I also get quite anxious at times. Should I get some anti-anxiety meds to ease the transition? I feel like if I had a better understanding or explanation of my habits I could develop a better way of dealing. Any literature you recommend?

... Habitual Pot Smoker




Dear Habitual Pot Smoker...

It's a good sign that you are uncomfortable with your habit, because while you're getting wasted your life is wasting away. Doctor George wants to give you credit for being willing to consider that your habit is getting in the way of moving your life forward.

There are many types of "drugs," excessive work, excessive sports, etc. Doctor George knows about this firsthand and this type of conversation is right up his alley. Drug habits can develop out of the motive of trying to soothe oneself, to deaden emotional pain one feels-people's excessive drug use may be an attempt to self-medicate. Whether anti-anxiety medication would be helpful is a question for a physician to answer, preferably an M. D. psychiatrist who is familiar with this area.

Using drugs, in whatever form, to avoid the problems in our lives doesn't work because if we don't allow ourselves to feel our pain and deal with our emotional conflicts we can't grow and overcome them. But it is hard to do this alone-that's why 12 step addiction programs can be helpful. Not to imply that you're an addict, but you have a habit that is significantly interfering with the life you want to live. And it is difficult to stop habits like this all by oneself.

Doctor George doesn't have any literature to recommend for this problem. He thinks, rather, that in cases like this the help of a trained psychotherapist may provide the comfort of human understanding that could help "ease the transition," as you so aptly put it. With a therapist one can discuss issues in one's life that have been avoided, past experiences that have not been resolved and painful emotions that need to be processed.

You mentioned that you have "vivid dreams." Doctor George has a long-standing interest in the meaning of dreams and has seen how dreams can reveal truths from deep within the mind that can give people crucial insights into the direction their lives should take. When one recalls dreams it can be helpful for one to consult a therapist who is experienced in the language of dreams.

It's a difficult and scary thing to break habits and go ahead and allow ourselves to change. But when we have the intention to make our lives better then we often find that the inner strength and outer help we need are available for us.

   Doctor George