I started using cannabis around the age of 12, to deal with all the anger and the feelings of injustice I felt about what was happening in my home country, Morocco. Smoking weed helped me make new friends and look cool. I started off by smoking once a week with older friends, and gradually got to do it more often. As I grew aware of my homosexuality and my community’s homophobia, cannabis became the only thing that would make me « happy ». It was my escape route and my tranquilizer.
When Reality Hits
I realized I was addicted when it became clear to me that I would rather go hungry than not have enough money to buy a bag of weed. Plus, when I didn’t use, I had intense withdrawal symptoms that drastically affected my mood. I hadn’t been wary enough of this drug, and it gained control of my awareness, my reasoning, my mood and my self-esteem. I knew I was caught in a trap (see The Treacherous Pitfalls of Drugs and Alcohol), in a vicious circle, but I wasn’t working on finding a way out.
I now believe that cannabis is a slow killer. It affected my lungs: it often felt like I had bronchitis, I would cough, I had throat pain, my breathing was shallower. It also affected my thinking it made me throw up, not to mention all the bad trips I went through!
Breaking the Rules
As far as I can remember, my mother had always told me to stay away from cannabis. She made it abundantly clear that it was dangerous. But since I’m the sort to bend the rules, I blithely ignored her precious advice.
An Insidious Herb
I now believe that cannabis is a slow killer. It affected my lungs: it often felt like I had bronchitis, I would cough, I had throat pain, my breathing was shallower. It also affected my thinking it made me throw up, not to mention all the bad trips I went through! Staying concentrated in school became increasingly difficult, my grades were disappointing, I gradually became isolated and more interested in other drugs.
In my opinion, cannabis is an insidious drug. It invaded my life progressively, became an obsession that made me act against my own values. I manipulated, stole, lied, and smoked even more to bury all the guilt I felt about it (see The Two Faces of Drug Addiction).
If I could turn back time, I would never even go near the drug just to try and be like everyone else. You only understand the danger you’re in once you’re caught in its grip. I should have believed the people who encouraged me to never start. I would have appreciated life free from drugs, I would’ve done sports, read, discovered the world. I smoked for 14 years, and I strongly advise youth never to start, because they might never be able to stop.
I’m happy I followed Portage’s program. It allowed me to reconnect with my values and with a support network, and to meet people who’ve been through the same things I have and who help me not to relapse.
Finding a Way Out
I’m happy I followed Portage’s program. It allowed me to reconnect with my values and with a support network, and to meet people who’ve been through the same things I have and who help me not to relapse. Portage gave me tools that I use every day. I now know that when I’ve got a problem, using drugs is not an option. I’m able to get some perspective, analyze what is going on, ask for help, vent if I must, and fully live my life as a sober person.
Hind, resident at the habitations communautaires de Portage