Man Seeks Advice for His Stoner Brother

Bad DaddyA few days ago, this was in my in-box.

Yo! Dave, What’s up man..hope all is well. I have question I was hoping you could help me with. My little brother (18 yrs) is a freshmen in college. He is very talented baseball player, and used to work hard and wanted to be the best.
He has been smoking pot almost everyday for almost a year and is now losing motivation to be his best. He has almost got busted a few times, but sees nothing wrong with w/smoking cuz it’s “natural.”
What helped you? Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Oh jeez. I should have expected something like this. I mean, I’ve been pretty blatant with my story and this is the next step, right? I share my experience so that I can help others with theirs?

Only, I don’t think my “advice” is really all that helpful. Like any good stoner, I’m full of stories of near misses and the “protection” God affords fools and children. Over the years I’ve had plenty of opportunities to share those stories. They’re frequently well received and often the source of much fun and laughter. “Wow, Dave, you really were lucky/stupid/a dumb-ass!” Sometimes they even evoke a, “Good thing you’re not like that anymore.”

But, as to quitting and turning my life around? That was just luck. If anything Life provided an opportunity that I was smart enough to take advantage of. I’m not so sure it was anything I did on my own.

By the time I quit smoking marijuana I was ending a daily habit that had lasted ten years and there had been several opportunities to quit along the way. More than once a friend, even my wife, had expressed concern over how much I smoked and how often. There were several near misses with the law, countless dollars wasted and much time spent with people with whom my only connection was a mutual desire to get high and avoid life. I had very few friends in the true sense of the word.

The funny thing about being high all the time though is that none of this mattered. I couldn’t tell my friends weren’t really friends and the fact that I managed to skirt punishment or that the money always seemed to show up from “somewhere” just proved that I was on the right path.

I can remember actually telling someone I thought marijuana offered a “road to enlightenment.” “Yeah, but I keep forgetting where it is,” she quipped.

Years later I stubbornly believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, I was still on that road.

The last time I got high was December 30, 2004. We were at the beach. Samantha’s mother had just retired from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and she celebrated by renting a beach house for the month of December. I was down with my girls to celebrate the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. I thought I’d brought enough weed to get me through the week, but two days before we planned on coming back, I ran out.

Samantha had commented a few times on how I was missing the vacation by constantly having to go back up to the beach house to our upstairs bedroom to “secretly” hit my pipe and boost my high.

An opportunity was forced on me.

I know a few “lifetime stoners” who made it a habit of taking January “off.” They say it’s for detox and making sure their habit doesn’t get the best of them. I began to see that maybe my habit had gotten the best of me and maybe it would be a good idea to take a “break.”

As the month wore on I did detox. I got over the initial bitchiness and ill feeling that accompanies a brain that becomes dependent on an external source of dopamine and then is deprived of that external source. I began to open my eyes.

The friends I had before seemed to like me less and less. I seemed to make them uncomfortable by abstaining from our usual ritual of puff, puff, pass. Those who bought from me, when they realized I wasn’t dealing anymore, just quit calling.

When I was with my family I was finally with my family and much of the unhappiness and discord that I had just taken for granted in my home, disappeared. A year later, we took a holiday photo over at Sears and for the first time, ever, all my children were smiling. In fact my whole family glowed in a way I’d never seen before. That photo still hangs on my refrigerator to remind me.Happy Family

At the end of that first month I decided to keep going. Almost nine years later I’ve stuck with it. Occasionally I dream about it and in my dream I’m usually so high I can’t function. Sometimes when I’m out somewhere and it’s being passed around I even consider it. Surely after this long and having gotten my shit together I can handle it, right?

Maybe. But that’s a risk I’m not willing to take.

I wish I knew what to tell you that you can share with your brother. I wish I could lay out the steps to recovery and how to make the first step possible.

All I know though, is that I was touched by God — Buddha, Allah, Krishna, the Universe, I don’t care what you call it – and I got my life back, at a time when I was so far gone I didn’t even know I’d lost it. In my experience the only way you can know that is to be there.

Before I got there I wouldn’t listen to anyone, so why should anyone listen to me now?

There is a sadness that goes along with all of this. That’s ironic too, because weed makes you feel so happy, but it’s a false happiness and because it’s false, the real feelings just bide their time, growing underneath the surface and affecting everyone within reach.

My friend is sad for his brother. The brother is sad too, obviously there’s something he’s avoiding, trying not to feel. But only when those feelings are felt, dealt with and expressed will any of this go away.

For me, the gym provided the perfect outlet for decades of repressed feeling. Punching bags, kettlebells, bars and dumbbells became my way of expressing rage and frustration long suppressed and turned into depression. Everyone has their own path.

But I truly believe that only when you can learn to embrace the perfect nature of your imperfections, to understand that you are as you are simply because to be otherwise is false and therefore imperfect, can your rid yourself of all that drags you down and keeps you from being the highest version of yourself.

To our perfect imperfection,

Dave

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