I'm not sure if this will be of interest to anyone, but I've noticed some specific changes (some positive, some negative) after quitting. Many of these changes are personal and very specific to me: I do not mean this as a critique of others Cannabis use.
Background: I started using Cannabis weekly when I was 17. At 18 I started to use about three times a week. At 19, I started smoking everyday and continued to do so for two years. This would vary and cycle: From waking up every day by hitting a vape, and continuing till I sleep, or sometimes just smoking when I get home. For this two year period i'd spend between 6 and 14 hours high a day. I never spun my Cannabis with tobacco, and started using a Vaporizer about 6 months into my daily use.
The Habitual Changes:
I used to smoke to further enjoy activities: Music, exercise, conversation, the beach. If I didn't smoke, a small voice in the back of my head would tell me "this would be better if I was high". Once i stopped, I noticed my enjoyment of these activities sober over a period of months became greatly enhanced. It's a relief not relying on that constant supply of green to be happy.
I became less physically aware of my body. When I was smoking particularly heavily (8+ times a day) I would be acutely aware of dehydration, bodily aches, tightness, hunger, headaches. I would feel the physical repercussions of the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. I would feel every drink poison my insides slightly. After cessation, I could enjoy alcohol more easily, without the awareness. I more instinctively maintained good health when a heavy Cannabis user.
Use more drugs. Whilst a stoner, I would be quite satisfied just smoking my trees and maybe sipping a beer when going out to parties/concerts. I would occasionally dabble in psychedelics and amphetamines but really felt no strong desire. After cessation, I find myself consuming much larger quantities of other substances and craving the "weekend" high I used to scoff at. Frustration at sobriety was a new experience for me, and one I had to learn to control. The negative effects from partying increased dramatically after cessation.
This is a common one to all drug users, I know, but I planned my life around Cannabis. If I was going out, I worked out where I could smoke before or after the event. If going overseas, I'd try to figure out how to buy once there. Instinctively, I planned my life around getting high.
The Psychological Changes:
- When I was consuming heavily: I would always feel 1cm off the ground. There was a level of distinct detachment to everyday life that only became apparent once I quit. It is subtle but powerful with both positive and negative effects. When in negative and oppressive environments (hostile social situations, boring work shifts) this detachment allowed me to float through the experience, allowing my mind to escape the environment, making time far more pleasurable.
However, when say, with a girlfriend I found the disconnect could cause me anxiety as I couldn't fully relate to the person I was trying to be emotionally open with. A part of me couldn't fully commit to the experience.
- Thought Patterns: I found Cannabis to be remarkably powerful in it's ability to alter the pattern of thought construction. Primarily, I found it created what I called "thought loops". Cannabis seemed to me to cause momentary awareness to some degree (Short term memory loss: Also known as living in the 'now'). Thoughts tend to pattern in circles more readily than when sober. If I was thinking of a problem, my brain would easily and calmly link all thoughts back to that original problem and keep replaying the problem out.
If i was thinking on a moment of anger I had, for example: I might replay that moment in my head. Than I will think of other moments of anger I've had, then think of what anger is? What does it mean to be angry? Then I will replay the original moment of anger in my head. Thus a cycle is born. Becuase of relaxation, I sometimes won't notice these cycles for extended periods of time. Can be cycling through a topic for an hour sometimes.
I found this to be the most psychedelic quality of Cannabis, and it had lasting positive and negative effects. Postively, I found I naturally thought through many concepts/ideas/problems in a deep, far reaching way. The cycling caused me to explore every angle and to think deeply on some things that, whilst sober, I might brush off.
Negatively, it caused me to brood and over-think. Especially with girls, or negative situations. I would think and think and think, driving myself mad and anxious. When sober, I could come to a conclusion, let it go and move on.
Attention to Detail: When smoking alot, you focus on specific details more readily: the way one moves their hand while talking, the moment of aggression that passes over someones face before being masked with a smile. I don't believe you notice detail more readily when sober, its just you consciously acknowledge the detail, rather than subconsciously integrating it. Again, a positive and negative: can be great to notice the way people react, but can disconnect you from the experience, causing you to get lost in your head rather than enjoying the person I was interacting with.
Social Style:Stoners find other stoners. This is bizarre and I don't know what came first. Is it that a certain style of person is attracted to Cannabis and therefore is likely to find and interact with other users. Or is it that Cannabis changes your social style, making you interact better with other users. All I know is, I always find the other stoner in the room. Even once I've given up. Most of the people I seem to like/spend time with, either smoke alot of weed, or have, at some point in their life. I haven't smoked regularly for 12 months now, but I still meet new people and have them offer me a joint.
There's also something about the way stoners 'sesh' that creates a unique style. A friend of mine, who has always liked amphetamines, never weed, became friends with me after I ceased smoking. However, he describes my social style as 'stoner'. I think there is a style of conversational flow, based around the circular thoughts hypothesis, whereby stoners conversation flow in gentle cycles. The self-awareness from the high also leads stoners (and ex-stoners) to readily describe and talk about how they physically feel when on other substances or when experiencing any sensation.
Anyway, that's my (incomplete) list, I hope it's of some interest. I would like to hear if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions regarding any of this, and of course, if anyone has a question, feel free to ask.