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Chabad Lifeline blog

Marijuana led me to the psych ward

 marijuana led me.jpg

This is not your typical marijuana story, but this was my reality.  

My first bad trip

Five years ago, I started experiencing psychotic symptoms whenever I smoked a joint or ate an edible (it was a daily occurrence).

I had been using for awhile. I tried other drugs but weed was my go to. It always gave me what I was looking for.

For many years it was good, but suddenly the paranoia started. It was terrifying but semi-manageable. Then came my first psychotic episode.

I lost complete control. My mind was active, hyperactive, as my body was shocked with paralyzing fear. I couldn't move a muscle. I couldn't scream. I felt like I was going to die.

My roommate found me and called the ambulance. That was my first trip to the psych ward.

Frozen in fear

I was kept there for a day or two, then they released me and I returned home.

I vowed I would never use again.

Boy was I wrong.

One week later I found myself on that same couch, paralyzed. Except this time, my roommate was out of town.

Inside I was panicking. My brain was racing. You can't imagine the terror of being unable to move. I tried reaching for my phone. In my head it was an easy task but my body wouldn't allow it.

After about an hour I snapped out of it. I thought things were going to be better but then I smoked another joint.

A way out

After six weeks of this hell and a few more visits to the psych ward, I was finally willing to go to any length to get my sanity back.

A doctor in the psych ward referred me to Chabad Lifeline. I was nervous, but when I got there, it wasn't what I had envisioned.

It was a home. Somewhere I felt safe.

My counselor at Chabad Lifeline prepared a treatment plan that included abstaining, weekly one on one counseling, random urine samples, and 12-step meetings including Marijuana Anonymous.

I did some research on CIP (Cannabis Induced Psychosis). I thought my story was unique but did you know that according to a recent study, 15% of regular cannabis users reported similar symptoms that I experienced? 

That was 5 years ago, and I haven't used or had a psychotic episode since.

My name is Jack, and this is my story.

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If you have a problem with Marijuana Addiction, please contact us at 514-738-7700 or via our "contact us" form.

A night to remember

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Addiction often comes part and parcel with mental illness, and for that reason we have partnered with the Au Contraire Film Festival over the last three years to present films that focus on addiction and mental health at the Museum of Fine Arts. Our goal is to draw out raw and important messages through the medium of film and the question and answer period following each screening. The cultural setting allows everyone to feel included, and provides dignity to people affected by addiction, giving them an opportunity to have their feelings validated through the presentation of issues they are going through in a non-clinical way.

This year, we screened three short films that focused on how addiction affects the family. RESET Director Arun Vir and her daughter Salma, on whom the film was based, joined Chabad Lifeline's Director on stage for an emotional Q&A period.

A dessert reception followed the screening in a beautiful room at the museum where 300 people of various backgrounds who care about our mission had a chance to mingle and connect with any of the 12 members of Chabad Lifeline's Clinical Team to find out about our programs and services.

Among those in attendance were Dr. Karl Looper and his staff from the Jewish General Hospital Psychiatry Department, Chair of the English Montreal School Board Angela Mancini and several commissioners, Dr. Laurie Betito, Tommy Schnurmacher, and community leaders.

Following the screening, we received much feedback. Some highlights:

"The film 'Reset' touched many pressure points for those of us who have been through the turmoil personally, as a parent or sibling. I had an involuntary shudder run down my back at one point, a tremor which reflected my intense personal identification with the story. One especially impactful part of the evening was the message at its culmination, at the end of the question and answer period. It was the message that the family has to be intimately involved."

"The short films were thought-provoking and gripping. As an addict, I feel that they did an excellent job of demonstrating to the public how addiction affects and disrupts families--the associated feelings of helplessness, stress, anger, panic, etc. Conversely, it also exposed the pivotal role family support often plays in helping an addict break their cycle of addiction. As an addict myself, I know all too well how difficult my addiction was on my family--it broke them down as much as it did myself.  Despite this, it was my parents' unrelenting love and support that ultimately proved critical in getting me into treatment and helping me to maintain my long-term sobriety."

"As someone who struggles with alcoholism and addiction, I found the evening (Au Contraire) incredibly accurate - providing insight into the mind of an alcoholic/addict. The things we do, say and think. The obsessiveness. The misery. The lies. The embarrassment and shame. 

"While you’re in the thick of your addiction you believe to be on your own in this impossible struggle. You are hopeless. Only through recovery do you realize that there are thousands of people just like you. People who went through exactly what you went through. Thought exactly what you thought and acted exactly the way you acted. 

"It was great for my girlfriend, who was in attendance as well, to see alcoholism and addiction portrayed in the words of other people. To see that I am not crazy. That I am sick. That I need to continue treating my disease for the rest of my life. The opposite of addiction, to me, is connection. Connection to yourself, to society and to God. Through these things recovery is possible. I am living it."

To see a collection of photos from the event, click here. If you know someone affected by addiction, please contact us at 514-738-7700 or by sending us an email.

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