I Go 10 Days With No Weed or Other Drugs for First Time in 10 Years

On being 27 and taking a cold-turkey, tolerance break.

I’ve been smoking weed since before I could legally drive. I’ve rarely gone more than a few days without consuming marijuana in some form, since I first began. Today, for work, an Internet bubble filled with weed is my Pineapple Under the Sea. 

Throughout the past decade, most aspects of my cannabis intake have changed, including how I consume and why I choose to do so, and other drugs joined the list of things I put into my body––at times with an exploratory eagerness. Some days, it can feel like, “if weed is a gateway drug, then I really did hop the fence. . .” 

I recently went overseas, on a family vacation in Greece. We would spend some time in Athens, and the rest of the trip we’d be sailing the Saronic Islands. I wouldn’t be smoking much, if any, Grecian weed. But the two-week Aegean escape was also the perfect setting for a two-week hiatus from any sort of drug-fueled escapism.

Below is the experience, as told via my journal.

Day 1:

I'm still kind of high from the night before I left––didn't sleep much, but smoked a whole lot, and took a few dabs before leaving to LAX. I'm on airplanes for most of the next 18 hours. I sleep from takeoff to landing on both of my flights––waking up long enough only to not eat the plastic chicken and rubber pasta served to passengers. I have a layover in Montreal; so I ask a security guard if the airport has a smoking lounge. I nearly burst into tears when he says no. What is wrong with me?

I want to smoke. Weed, hash, wax, anything at all. I settle for a pack of Marlboro Golds and go through it in about three hours.

Day 2:

Arrived early in the morning. I'm so lucky to have parents that care about me enough to show me the world, and also know when not to poke and prod––I weigh less than 130 pounds, have permanent dark circles under my eyes. I don’t look all that good. We check into the hotel, and everyone takes a nap before lunch. I end up sleeping until 6 or 7 at night. My family says I seem uptight. They’re right.

Day 3:

I want to smoke. Weed, hash, wax, anything at all. I settle for a pack of Marlboro Golds and go through it in about three hours. We visit the Acropolis and different tourist sites. Everyone has a great time. We spend the afternoon, outside, at a taverna, eating different foods, and catching up on one another's lives: My family is scattered across the country. My parents tell my brother and me that they’re proud of us. It feels good to hear. And even better to be here with them, in person. My nose begins running (don't remember catching a cold). It gets more noticeable as the day wears on. That night I dream of drugs and wake up sweaty, and feeling as though I hadn’t slept at all. Another pack of cigarettes are gone before the box has a chance to wrinkle in my pockets.

Image via VSCO

Day 4:

I've probably eaten more already on this trip than I did all of last month. Food just tastes better here. It has fewer preservatives, and isn’t made from GMOs––all tomatoes look different from one another, but they’re amazing and red and juicy. I'd get fat if I ate this much fake, American food. I text a friend and tell her I've gained five pounds since I left (a rough estimate based on the visibility of my ribcage). She says she is proud of me and hopes I'll bring these eating habits back to the states. So do I.

It isn't until I'm offered some weed by an Albanian punk in the city center that I even think about any drugs today. After I decline, weed is all I can think about. I don’t sleep and instead walk around Athens all night, as if I’m looking for something. Whatever it is, I don’t find it. The city is beautiful and alive, but not as noisy as Los Angeles. (More dirty though?) Tomorrow we leave the mainland for the island where my family began.

I must be the only person who misses being stuck on the 110 while sailing in Greece. What is wrong with me?

Day 7:

We've been so busy I haven't had the chance to jot much down. I'm having fun and not being a total dick to everyone. The cravings for anything are kept at bay with cigarettes and gelato and dinners at the homes of family members I’ve never before met. Yesterday, I read a book in an afternoon, on the roof of our rented house, overlooking a harbor. My family says I seem like I’m starting to unwind. They’re right.

Traveling = therapy. Feta cheese = served at every meal (not complaining). Family = everything.

We set sail for the Saronic Islands tomorrow.

Day 9:

The Aegean water is clear, blue, and salty. It feels like it’s doing a whole lot of good, for much more than just my skin.

Image via VSCO

Day 10:

Man, this view would go great with a doob. Or a dab. Fuck, I want some weed. I get Internet service for a few minutes. Emails and Instagram posts from my friends make me even kind of miss L.A. traffic. I must be the only person who misses being stuck on the 110 while sailing in Greece. What is wrong with me?

Day 12:

Last night was the closest I’ve felt to my family in my entire life. We anchored in a bay off of one of the smaller Saronic Islands and celebrated my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. After the rest of the family goes to sleep, I stand on top of the boat. Bright dead stars burn their image into the back of my eyelids, where they’ll hopefully stay for the rest of my life. I don’t want weed. I don’t want to get high. I don’t want anything more than this, right now. I breathe in the ocean air. I forget about Hollywood, and buildings full of dimly lit apartments that only seem to come alive at night. I take in the tranquil soundlessness of the tide like I’m listening to my favorite album on full volume. I let go. I’m content with the idea that I may never be entirely content. Everything is temporary, and that’s okay.

A few days later, I get back to L.A. and feel restored but also stand at the feet of several new beginnings. Slowing down my chemical romance is only one of them: I’m also moving into a new apartment. I signed a contract for full-time employment at KINDLAND––the first time years I’ve had more than one month, or project-at-a-time, of guaranteed income. Weed and other drugs enhance situations, sure. But maybe 12 years is too long a time to spend in such a mental state. Perhaps escape doesn’t always have to be consumed to be experienced.