Voices: I Was a Binge Drinker, But Weed Changed All That

Trading manic boozing for bud in moderation can be a healthy pivot.

I was a drinker. I’ve had a relationship with alcohol since my freshman year in college. I’ve done it all. Keg stands, funnels, flip cup, shots, prairie fire (microwave tequila and hot sauce for 30 seconds then gulp it down. It truly is as bad as it sounds). Every Thursday to Sunday, it was on.

As I graduated and matriculated to adult life, the only thing that changed was the frequency. A typical drinking session ended up north of 12 shots, chased with four lokos or whatever cheap malt beverage I fiended for while perusing familiar liquor aisles. I prided myself on my booze consumption. Without bragging, I had become a living legend at my school, with my friends and even some family members who knew of my prodigious talent.

I was a drinker. Last year I burned out. It was a tough summer for myself and others around me; so we pounded out drinking exhibitions we hadn't taken part in since our early 20s. Every Friday and Saturday, my home reverted into a frat house. Hour by hour, we surely morphed into alcoholics. I had had enough.

My relationship with marijuana had always been casual. Social. If offered at a party, I wouldn’t turn it down. It was not something I actively sought out. I knew it was better for me than alcohol. The way I felt the next morning was proof of that. After my drinking binges, I would be folded like a baby praying to God to deliver me from my latest hangover. At roughly 7:00 p.m., like clockwork, his Holiness would have mercy on my withered body and open the door to sobriety. This was short lived. The next day (actually the next hour), I would crack open a bottle and begin my usual decline into intoxication.

When I would be high on weed, the next morning was euphoric. Sometimes I would still be lit from the previous night and have a pleasant morning, smiling and friendly way beyond my usual distant and reserved state. Even when I wasn’t high the next morning, I felt refreshed, vibrant, able to work out and carry about my day with a sunny disposition. I saw the difference between alcohol and tetrahydrocannabinol.

Jokingly, I had always stated that if/when marijuana became legal, I would smoke exclusively and never drink again. As last summer progressed, those train crash hangovers rendered me useless the next day and became too much. My recovery time became worse and worse. It now oozed into my week rather than just Sundays. I knew I had to change.

I found love. It’s honestly a feeling I have never felt, in any relationship, job, school. I read more and more about the culture, and I was hooked.

Slowly, I began smoking more and more. At first it was a slight uptick. Only on Saturdays after my Friday night booze-a-palooza. Baby steps. Since I don’t live in a state where it is legal, I was wary about being caught by my job, neighbors, whoever. But after taking baby steps into the world of cannabis, I found love. It’s honestly a feeling I have never felt, in any relationship, job, school. I read more and more about the culture, and I was hooked.

As I began my transition, I asked, Why is this illegal? I looked at how we as Americans are subliminally encouraged to grow with alcohol. In college, you drink like a frat boy—beer and lots of it. Adulthood means wine and dark-brown liquor. I looked at how it's patriotic to buy a six pack, plop down on the couch, and pound out cold one after cold one while watching whatever sport is of the season. Beer brings us half of our programming, paraded around in commercials with a two-second “drink responsibly “ blurb.

Marijuana is presented as a phase, something you grow out of over time. We shun weed as a gateway drug, something unsafe to our kids and communities, while we rot out our livers shot after shot, glass after glass. I became mad and frustrated and saw prohibition as a human-rights issue.

As I continue on this journey, I grow more and more excited thinking about my future with marijuana. I literally google weed, cannabis, and marijuana at least three times a day—just to see any news about prohibition possibly ending. I still drink the occasionally hard cider or wine, but I'm hook, line, and sinker a stoner.  It’s a love affair of the highest order, and I hope it never ends.