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Is Using Weed a Relapse?

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

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It can be difficult to determine whether or not using weed counts as a relapse. Many people in recovery believe sobriety means complete abstinence from all alcohol and drugs, including weed. Others, however, are more lenient and tend to bend the rules when it comes to marijuana use. Some people still consider themselves sober while continuing to smoke weed simply because they no longer use hard drugs or drink. Although neither form of sobriety is necessarily wrong, beginning to use weed can put your, sobriety at risk.

The Danger of Smoking Weed In Recovery

Smoking weed in recovery poses many risks. Although many people view weed as fairly harmless, as much as 30% of weed users are thought to have some degree of marijuana use disorder, and 8.9% are believed to be dependent on it. While in recovery, especially early on, marijuana may initially be used as a crutch to prevent the use of other drugs and alcohol, but marijuana use can quickly turn into dependency.

In addition to this, many people who smoke weed in early recovery do so to cope with anxiety or stress caused by early sobriety. By doing this, you are not developing the necessary coping mechanisms to deal with this anxiety and to stay sober long term. The long-term and/or excessive use of marijuana can also lead to other substance use. This means that by using marijuana, you are putting your sobriety as a whole at risk. In response to this, some argue that if you stay on a “marijuana maintenance” plan that your overall sobriety will not be threatened. This argument, however, has been rejected by the recovery community as it is believed to be an ineffective and, in some cases, harmful strategy. 

The use of weed, in general, is harmful, especially if used long-term and/or excessively.  For those in recovery in particular, the use of marijuana can result in dependency, inability to cope with daily stressors that result from early sobriety, and the use of more dangerous substances. 

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Is Using Weed a Relapse?

It is hard to say definitively whether or not using weed is a relapse. Deciding if your use of weed counts as a relapse depends on what form of sobriety you subscribe to. If you believe in abstinence, using weed would count as a relapse. Some hold the belief that since weed is legal, the use of weed doesn’t count as a relapse, however, if that were the case alcohol use wouldn’t count as a relapse either. Both weed and alcohol alter your mood and how your brain functions, so if you believe in abstinence, using weed is a relapse. If you do not believe that you need to be completely abstinent to be sober, then using weed may not mean you relapsed. In this case, your definition of sobriety will determine if the use of weed is a relapse or not. That being said, studies have shown that those who use weed, even once or twice, stay sober for less time. This means that even if you do not consider using weed a relapse, the odds are that it will eventually result in one.

Generally speaking, the majority of the recovery community views weed use as a relapse. If you have to argue with yourself and others to justify your use of any kind of drug, it probably means your use of said drug counts as a relapse. As a general rule of thumb, if you are unsure of whether or not you can or should use the drug, don’t use it. 

Stay Sober with Design for Recovery

Marijuana use can have significant impacts on mental health and can hinder progress towards a sober lifestyle. If you or a loved one are seeking sober living in West LA, it’s important to find a safe and supportive environment that prioritizes your recovery goals. Sobriety is a journey that requires commitment and dedication, and having a community of like-minded individuals can make a significant difference in your success. At our sober living house in West LA, we offer a structured and supportive environment that encourages personal growth and development. Our experienced staff is dedicated to helping you navigate the challenges of early recovery and achieve long-term sobriety. With the right support and resources, you can achieve a fulfilling and rewarding life in sobriety.

If you are struggling to stay sober without weed, Design for Recovery can help you regain control over your life. Design for Recovery offers a structured, safe environment to become more secure in your sobriety. Residents work hard daily to develop new skills, values, and coping mechanisms for approaching life in early recovery. At Design for Recovery, we believe that addiction recovery involves more than just physically abstaining from substances — it involves building a new way of life. With the help of Design for Recovery’s sober living services, you can begin to develop skills that will help you stay sober long-term without weed. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

For many people who have been addicted to weed, relapse can feel like a nightmare. All of the progress that you have made in overcoming your addiction can suddenly feel like it has been undone. You may feel hopeless, helpless, and ashamed. Relapse can be a very difficult experience to overcome, but it is possible. With the right support and treatment, you can get back on track and continue working towards your goal of sobriety.

When you stop smoking weed, your brain goes through some changes. The first thing that happens is that the levels of THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) decrease. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability. Your brain also starts to readjust its neurotransmitter levels. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help transmit messages between neurons. Cannabis affects the levels of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and motivation, while serotonin is associated with mood and anxiety. When you stop smoking weed, your brain needs to readjust the levels of these neurotransmitters. This can lead to symptoms like depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.

If you’re looking to sober up from smoking weed, there are a few things you can do. First, drink plenty of fluids, especially water. This will help to flush the THC out of your system. Second, eat healthy foods and avoid sugary snacks, as they can make you feel more sluggish. Finally, get some exercise; a short walk or run can help to increase your heart rate and speed up the sobering process.

If you are in recovery from addiction, you may be wondering if using CBD count as a relapse. The short answer is that it depends on how you use it. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, the other well-known cannabinoid, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. This means that it will not get you high or alter your state of mind in any way. So, if you are using CBD products for medicinal purposes, such as to relieve pain or anxiety, then it is unlikely that this would be considered a relapse. However, if you are using CBD recreationally, then it is possible that this could be counted as a relapse


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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