My friends know that I used to be a heavy pot smoker and that I eventually gave it up.

Those same friends still smoke pot, and every once in awhile, one of them will ask me, “Should I stop smoking weed?”

When they ask me this, I feel like they either want me to give them permission to continue smoking or they want someone to kick them in the butt and show them how to stop smoking marijuana. Should I blame them. I was in that same position not very long ago.

I needed marijuana

At least, I believed I needed it, even though I never considered marijuana to be as bad as drugs like alcohol, cocaine or heroin. I definitely didn’t think of marijuana as something that you could become addicted to.

I always justified my pot use by claiming that it was a form of self-medication. Having anxiety, I figured that smoking pot would be better than taking some behind-the-counter prescription drug. I even made the cliche statement “I can quit weed anytime I want!”

By the way, if you ever tell yourself that you can quit smoking weed anytime you want, that’s a red flag. It usually means you don’t want to quit.

One day, when I was in the middle of telling myself that I could quit anytime, a voice piped up in my head and said, “Prove it. Put your money where your mouth is. Give up weed for one week.”

I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, even when those challenges are coming from inside my own head, so I decided to do it. I tried to go cold turkey for one week, just to prove to myself that I could do it.

It was not an easy week

I had terrible insomnia and felt extremely restless and anxious.  Concentrating at work was impossible. I was craving weed all day and all night.

I didn’t make it through the week. On the morning of the fifth day, I was packing a bowl faster than you can say “420.”

After I finished smoking, I was so disappointed in my lack of fortitude, I couldn’t even enjoy being high. I started beating up on myself. It took me awhile to get out of that pattern of verbal self-abuse, and if you want my advice, I suggest you don’t go down that road in the first place. Marijuana addiction is a real thing, and beating yourself up only makes it more likely that you’ll relapse. In fact, relapsing is a normal part of the quitting process.

It also didn’t help that I still had marijuana and paraphernalia in the house. If you’re serious about quitting, you need to make it as easy on yourself as possible. That means removing any sources of temptation.

When people ask me, “Should I stop smoking weed?” I always tell them the same thing: the best way to know if you should stop doing something is to actually try to stop doing that thing.

Give up pot for one week and see what happens

Pay close attention to any withdrawal symptoms or issues that come up for you. Doing this will show you how much you do or don’t depend on weed. That will help you determine the next steps to take.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to see if you’re using pot as a way to avoid dealing with unpleasant personal issues. There might be a circumstance in your life that needs to be addressed or an emotional problem that needs to be resolved. If you’re using weed to avoid facing your problems, they’ll never get dealt with.

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself whether or not you should stop smoking weed. There are tons of benefits to quitting, but you have to want it. It might feel impossible at first, but take it from me: nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough.