I was bitterly excited upon New Year’s Day.
I was holding the letter saying I’d been accepted for a paid, summer internship with Anheuser-Busch.
At the bottom of the letter read, Please be informed that your hiring is contingent upon a successful drug test in the form of a urine and hair sample.
As a university student living in a home with my four best friends–all cannabis consumers themselves–how was I going to pass a test?
A urine sample means a few days to weeks to clean your system, but a hair sample goes back much further.
I was going to have to remain abstinent for months.
Without delay, I went into abstinence mode.
Six long months of it, only they weren’t long. But, that doesn’t mean it was easy.
Cannabis Withdrawals are Real
For whatever reason, a lot of people find themselves in situations where they have to quit cannabis or take a break.
Quitting cannabis is akin to quitting fast food, coffee, or video games; you’ll miss it a lot and want it when you can’t have it, but you’re not going to die and your quality of life isn’t going to dissolve – unless you’re using cannabis for medical purposes.
Expect cravings, urges, and a few grumpy moments that dissipate rather quickly. Maybe some trouble sleeping.
The worst thing you may experience is resurfacing of symptoms if you’ve been consuming cannabis to treat a particular ailment (in these cases you may want to reconsider whether or not to quit cannabis).
Medical conditions aside, there are easy and effective ways to reduce these mild withdrawal symptoms almost entirely.
Easy, Effective Tips for Reducing Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms
If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to take a break from cannabis, here are a few tips to help you better manage:
#1) Stay Active
What better way to take your mind off cannabis than jumping out of an airplane?
Okay, you don’t have to jump out of an airplane, but do something.
Staying active keeps your mind pointed in a certain direction.
When you’re locked in on being active and doing, your mind doesn’t wander back to its cravings.
Why is this?
Physical exercise is good for your endocannabinoid system – the same system that interacts with cannabis. In fact, the ECS requires vigorous exercise every day.
If you’re staying active and keeping your body and mind engaged, your endocannabinoids and endorphins will continue to flow.
As a result, your cannabis withdrawals will be greatly reduced.
If you’re not such an active person, however, is there an alternative for you?
#2) Alternatives to Cannabis
No, you shouldn’t simply switch your drug use to salvia, alcohol, or something worse. That isn't going to help your transition in the long run.
However, there is a way to produce short-term relief using alternatives, and it involves something many of us already consume: caffeine.
Having a lazy morning and a craving for cannabis crawls over you? Pour yourself a cup of coffee.
Ironically, drinking 4 or more cups of coffee seems to have the reverse effect of cannabis on our endocannabinoid system.
So, how does caffeine help curb cannabis withdrawal? It boosts our serotonin levels.
When you’re feeling withdrawal symptoms, that quickly puts you in a place of depression.
A cup of coffee (or two) is usually enough to quickly alleviate your symptoms without overindulging in something more extreme–like skydiving.
After your hot cup of coffee as your alternative to cannabis, you can return to focusing on your goals.
#3) Focus on Your Goals
Why are you abstaining?
Are you seeking job employment and need to have a clean drug test?
Are you experimenting with the impact of cannabis on your yoga routine?
Or, are you merely aiming to lower your tolerance for the future gratification of returning to cannabis with your favorite strain?
Whatever the reason for which you are abstaining, focus on it and remember the reward at the end.
You’ll get that job, find new invigoration in your daily yoga practice, and be blanketed with the inner peace upon your return to cannabis’ embrace.
Abstinence is a tool and withdrawal symptoms are the hammer that bangs your thumb.
You don’t stop building your house.
Focus on your goals, and do so by centering yourself.
#4) Meditate Your Symptoms Away
Mediation can also serve as a powerful alternative to cannabis while boosting your self-awareness.
What cannabis provides through a series of chemical interactions within our bodies, meditation provides through focus and relaxation.
If a craving for cannabis fires up, it’s easy to cool it off by returning to a mindful state-of-being.
By letting your mind focus only on your breath, the cravings for cannabis naturally flow away.
This is because your mind is susceptible to the directionality of your thoughts; focusing on a specific breathing technique keeps the mind from wandering to its cravings.
If you’re not sure where to start, try using the 4-7-8 breathing technique.
It goes like this:
- Breathe in quietly through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of eight.
When using this technique, it is not necessary to make your count in terms of seconds.
The ratio of 4:7:8 is more important than the overall time spent on each action.
Dr. Andrew Weil says this is breathing technique is your body’s “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”
You can also find a lot of guided meditation apps and YouTube videos. Definitely worth experimenting with if you haven’t already done so.
Do You Need to Take a Break from Cannabis?
Goals are met with action and action produces friction.
Committing to abstinence, even a brief cannabis break, might not be easy, but it’s nothing to fear.
By staying engaged with each day, enjoying life’s other pleasures, and remaining mindful of your situation, you can do this.
You’ll see that managing your cannabis withdrawal is a piece of cake.
One huge advantage of taking a break from cannabis is that you can return and enjoy lower tolerance, which equals lower dosing...
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