A Mom Addicted To Marijuana
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Transcript for A Mom Addicted To Marijuana :
Kristina: Welcome impactful parents to the impactful parenting, Inspire and Learn series where real parents come on and tell their stories of inspiration and learning because a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from other people’s mistakes. Today we’re going to be learning from our guest speaker, Amanda Gorman. Amanda has an amazing story to tell us about her journey with marijuana addiction. Let’s start with your story, Amanda. How did this start?
Amanda: Well, just to give a little bit of background about me, I am a wife and a mother of two little kids. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. It was pretty innocuous at first. I started smoking some weed when I was in college like many people do. Addiction wasn’t an issue for me right away. It was a recreational fun thing to do at parties and with friends. And over time, my use became a little bit more frequent. I started using weed to self-medicate. I have anxiety. By the time I was a senior in college, I was smoking from morning till night.
I continued this until about my mid-20s. It didn’t seem like a problem because I was productive. I had a good job. I met my husband, and that time in life seemed to be pretty good. Then my husband and I got married. We decided to have kids. I decided it was a good idea to stop using. And so, I specifically got sober. Although I didn’t think of it in terms of sober. I thought of it as I’m gonna take a break from smoking weed because I don’t want THC in my system while I get pregnant. It was that simple. So I stopped for a couple of years until I was done breastfeeding my daughter.
Then I started a job in Colorado. After I was done breastfeeding my daughter, I was like, oh, I’ll reward myself for all my hard work and abstinence with indulging. Around the same time, THC vape pens became all the rage. I remember the first time I ever saw one. I couldn’t believe that you could barely smell it, and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. So I started using marijuana again a little bit at night, much like a substitute for my nightly glass of wine. I didn’t think anything of it.
Then I repeated that cycle to have my son. I stop smoking, got pregnant, had my second baby, and breastfed for about 11 months. Then at the end of 2019, I got myself a vape pen again. I started up my nightly indulgence again.
Then things changed for me during the pandemic. March 2020 came around. We went into lockdown. My old habits of self-medicating came right back. By the summer of last year, I was back to my habit of smoking from morning tonight. But this time, I was a mom of two little kids. I couldn’t be emotionally and mentally present for them. My kids were still well taken care of. I was still physically present for them, but I just didn’t care about things as much. Ironically I used weed to lower my anxiety. After a while, my tolerance went up, and I started using more and more frequently. Unfortunately, the weed backfired on me and made my anxiety worse. The weed made me more irritable, made mood swings more intense, and life became unmanageable. I wasn’t happy in my job anymore. I wasn’t happy with much of anything. I just wasn’t making any positive movements in my life. I found myself slacking off on the job. Everything in my life really started to suffer.
Then things hit a wall in the fall of last year. My relationship with my husband was suffering. I wasn’t the wife or mother or person that I wanted to be. I remember one weekend I was by myself because I tended to want alone time and escape into a world of my own creating. I remember smoking and being like, I don’t even want to do this anymore. I’m doing it just because it’s a habit. It was almost compulsive. In addition to that, I had developed a pretty bad cough.
One night I was on the phone with a friend, and they expressed a lot of concern about my mental health. Their conversation stuck with me. I was still questioning why I am continuing to do this? I don’t even really want to smoke any more.
So on October 4, I threw my entire stash. I smoked for the last time on October 3. Now, I stopped smoking, but things got worse before they got better. What I mean by that is, when I was smoking weed, I was numbing myself of all of my feelings. I didn’t want to deal with problems but pushing down and masking my feelings wasn’t getting me anywhere. My emotional problems just came bubbling right back up to the surface and all while I was going through major physical withdrawal symptoms. Not everyone knows about marijuana; you can have serious withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, night sweats, anxiety, loss of appetite, irritability, and major mood swings. I was experiencing all of them. I was also emotionally dysregulated. I dealt with all of these feelings that came bubbling up to the surface like they were waiting for me. After about six days of white-knuckling it, I broke down and cried. I was so upset I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully I had heard of marijuana anonymous. It was like a seed was planted in my brain, months before someone had just mentioned that their daughter was thinking about going to those meetings. From there, it was like divine intervention. My fingers took over the keyboard and typed in marijuana anonymous online meeting. And there was a meeting happening right then, and I joined the Zoom Room. There were squares of women’s faces that were total strangers, and they were sharing bits of their story. I felt like they were reading my diary. Their story was my story. Everything that they said resonated with me. I remember being relieved to have found that space and pissed that I hadn’t found it earlier.
Ever since then, I have been going to Marijuana Anonymous meetings online. It has been a very long, difficult journey through recovery and sobriety. Still, my life now is so much better than it was. I sometimes cannot believe how bad things were last summer.
Today, I am the wife that I want to be. I am the parent that I want to be. I am experiencing the little joys with my kids that I used to enjoy. A lot of my healing work has been gaining emotional regulation tools and coping skills. When the toddler stuff happens, I can deal with it a lot better without running away or trying to numb it out.
I’ll wrap up by saying that I am not against the use of weed. I look at it just like alcohol. Most people can handle a drink or two; most people can handle recreational use. And some of us become addicted to it. 9% of people who use marijuana become addicted. So that means 91% have no issue at all. I want to be very clear that this is not me disparaging the use of weed or anything like that. Now I have realized that I don’t need any substances to make me feel better about myself or feel more confident. I am totally fine with myself, just as I am.
Kristina: Well, first of all, congratulations on your recovery. You have an amazing story, and it’s going to be very relatable to many. I’m going to start off by giving the audience a little bit of context. Your story is interesting because I’m in Colorado. Here where I live, marijuana is legal and has been for several years. Marijuana use is common. I know that’s not the view across the United States nor across the world, and I have listeners from all over. It’ll be interesting to hear everybody’s opinions in the comments about your story and the other things we’re about to talk about today.
In Colorado, you can go to a dispensary and get any sort of marijuana you need. There is medical and recreational marijuana available in different forms. You can eat marijuana in what is called an “edible.” You can vape marijuana in a smoking cartridge or smoke the flower, which is the plant itself. The dispensary’s staff are knowledgeable about weed here in our state also. You can ask the dispensary to recommend a strain that can help many different ailments, from “I need to sleep” to “I need something for my back pain.” Marijuana growth has become a science here in Colorado. Weed is also very acceptable by many here in our state. Going to be marijuana is just as common as going to a liquor store. In Colorado, many people have replaced their nightly glass of wine at the end of the day with smoking. It’ll be interesting to hear other views as I realize that is NOT the way most of the United States.
I hear your story, and I think, “Wow, very relatable for other parents, especially in Colorado.” When I hear you started smoking in college, again, I think this is very relatable. The University of Colorado at Boulder was even known for its weed back in the day. The bottom line is, we have a reputation here.
I am curious what the audience thinks about the comparison of alcohol and marijuana. The culture in Colorado is different than across the United States. Marijuana also has a reputation for calming the user. You don’t hear about many abusive people smoking marijuana, but you hear a whole bunch coming from alcoholics. What do you think about that kind of statement and that comparison?
Amanda: I started using weed to calm down and chill my anxiety. As my use went up and my tolerance went up, it backfired and had the opposite effect. I found myself being more irritable after I had smoked because I was slower. When I was around my kids, toddlers, their yelling and running around and doing all of their toddler things; they felt really annoying. It was actually more annoying when I was high than when I was sober. I have read some information about parents being either physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive on marijuana. There are also incidences of neglect, so marijuana can have its negative side too. When you compare both, you can drink a glass of wine responsibly and smoke responsibly. It is more about the user.
Kristina: How did you realize that you were a marijuana addict?
Amanda: So I did not think that I was an addict until probably my second or third Marijuana Anonymous meeting. I sought out the support of that online space just out of sheer desperation. Getting sober sucks. I knew that it was going to mean some sleepless nights. I knew that it was going to mess up my appetite for a while. But this time, the side effects of quitting were more severe and intense. I was also looking for support emotionally. I was seeing a therapist, too, but I needed additional help.
I remember being in my second or third meeting listening to the stories. At the beginning of most meetings, they read 12 questions called You Might Be A Marijuana Addict If _______. I answered yes to 11 out of 12 questions! I thought, “Hmm, okay, that’s interesting,” When it was my turn to speak, I surprisingly called myself a recovering marijuana addict. It just hit me one day. When the words just came out of my mouth, and I was like, Whoa, I need to sit with that! Am I really identifying?
Now there were times before when I thought I had a problem. I identify as a stoner, which was one of the things I had to grieve: losing that identity. I loved the idea of being a buttoned-up professional and a mom by day and a cool, laid-back stoner at night.
Kristina: How has this impacted your parenting specifically? What lessons did you learn?
Amanda: My first lesson was understanding. One of my biggest character defects is my tendency to sit in the well of victimhood and self-pity. As a parent, I would tell myself that I deserve the reward of smoking weed for my good parenting efforts, like waking up in the middle of the night. I would constantly play the victim and felt I was dealt this difficult deck of cards in my life. Of course, everyone is going to have challenges as a parent. Identifying that character defect and realizing I didn’t have to live my life like that was a game-changer for me.
The other way that this has impacted me as a parent is my ability to be present. Things got weird in the pandemic as it did for many people, and I was reaching for my relief button. Things were really hard around me at that time. I can give myself self-compassion, empathy, and grace for my past. Today, I don’t feel the need to do that. Even when things are very difficult, I have gained the coping mechanisms and emotional regulation skills to do what I need to do to take care of myself and my feelings. Sometimes before I can take care of my kids, I have to put on an extra 30 minute Cocoa Melon episode. At the same time, I go do a quick meditation or write a gratitude list. And, yes, my kids got more screen time but, mommy’s regulation was the priority in that scenario. I also stopped judging myself quite so harshly as a mother. This change in perspective helped me open up for more love and availability to my kids. I’m still in recovery. I am still learning. I’m also hopeful that it will continue to impact my family positively moving forward.
Kristina: What do you regret?
Amanda: It’s a good question. If I could go back and change things, certain little things make me wish that they could have gone differently. At the same time, I truly believe that that’s what led me to where I am today. So, I guess to answer that question, my only regret is not getting help sooner.
Kristina: If people listen to your story and resonate with what you’re saying, what do you suggest they do after listening to this episode?
Amanda: I love that question. I would say to start with a quick Google search and find a 12 step program that will work for you. One of the benefits of this pandemic is that many of these recovery support groups have gone online. There is a meeting happening at any given moment of the day. In these meetings, you don’t have to say a thing. You don’t even have to turn your camera on. You can plug into a meeting, keep yourself on mute, and just listen.
Kristina: You are also a podcast host. How do people find you if they want more from Amanda?
Amanda: My show is Finding Your village, and it’s about birth postpartum and parent mental health. The goal of the show is to make the early days of parenting more connected.
Kristina: Thank you for being here, Amanda, and sharing your story.
Audience, if you have an inspiring story and want to share your story with the audience so that others can learn from you, please go to that impactful parent website which is theimpactfulparent.com. Go to the Work With Me page, scroll down to the bottom, and you can sign up too! But until next time, parents, you got this. I am just here to help.
———————–A Mom Addicted To Marijuana———————————-
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