By USM Health and Counseling Services
As of August 2022, Maine’s adult-use retailers had sold nearly $98.3 million in cannabis, a 120% increase compared to the same eight-month period from the previous year.
Not all cannabis products are created equal. Different products have varying concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the route of administration–whether smoked/vaped, applied topically, dabbed or consumed–will affect the rate of intoxication. Research has demonstrated that cannabis use before the brain fully develops in a person’s mid-twenties can increase the likelihood of developing cannabis or other substance use disorders, while also contributing to poor mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, psychotic disorders and suicidal ideation.
Reasons People Choose to Reduce use of THC
Data from 250,000 cannabis users (Global Drug Survey, 2022) suggests that about 1 in 3 Cannabis users would like to use less in the coming year. Most are motivated by health concerns due to a drop in motivation, memory, mood and respiratory health. Others report difficulties with studying, or money worries, or the impact of smoking on their relationships. “My partner says I’m a couch potato and we never do anything anymore together” is a common refrain. Cutting back is also advised if you are eventually aiming to stop altogether, as withdrawal won’t be as severe if you reduce gradually.
Many individuals say that their anxiety, mood swings and depression increased with cannabis and that they want to reduce their use to see if their mental health will improve. Some want less “foggy brain,” clearer thinking, and sharper memory to improve their relationships and get their work and studies done. Others want to save money, improve their energy levels, and spend time doing the activities they use to enjoy. Most want to look better, breathe better and not feel tied to using THC to do this.
Some tricks to cut down on your cannabis use:
Purchase cannabis with lower THC amounts.
Take a couple of days off per week.
Decide what you are willing to do to use less, and challenge yourself to follow through with the plan.
Delay your use. Try waiting 10-30 minutes – Several 20 minute delays in a week can add up. Add these delays up on your phone or calendar and then reward yourself for your success.
If you use THC to relax, explore new ways to reduce stress such as going to the gym, yoga, meditation, walking or journaling. Try a new group or activity on campus.
Spend more time with friends who do not use cannabis and explore new activities that don’t involve using THC.
Tell a friend who doesn’t use cannabis that you are cutting back and ask them to check in with you.
What about withdrawal?
Some withdrawal symptoms include appetite changes, sleep issues, headaches, cravings, and temporary feelings of anxiety and depression as your body and mind adjust to no longer having the substance. Drinking water, eating nutritious food, exercising and walking can offer relief. Counseling can be supportive.
Resources Available to Help you Reduce your Weed Intake
Mutual Aid groups can also be helpful. In the Rooms: https://www.intherooms.com/home/live-meetings/
Marijuana Anonymous: https://marijuana-anonymous.org/
SMART Recovery: https://www.smartrecovery.org/
If you are wondering if your use of Cannabis is putting you at risk: https://app.screenu.org/screening/5e6b7f77-3ca3-4350-b84f-af84e31133fe
USM counseling: https://usm.maine.edu/counseling-services/
USM ROCC Program: https://usm.maine.edu/recovery-oriented-campus-center/
The ROCC has an all recovery peer group that meets every week and free community lunches on Thursdays (Portland) and Fridays (Gorham).