I pretty much a daily smoker for the past 2 years. For most of this duration, I told myself I smoke to feel good. I also believed I smoked to get creative, be musical, and sometimes even social. No matter how bad it got, I saw that weed was a good influence on my life.
But the fantasy came crashing down 2 weeks ago. I had begun to notice for the first time how my thoughts haunted me. It began when I noticed my thoughts actually snowball as my day goes on, growing more and more powerful, thinking of this and that, constantly fretting about the past or future. I didn't think much of it at first, having lived with this sort of mind for a long time now. But that day, I read a quote on Reddit that triggered a different response.
"Living in the past causes depression. Living in the future causes anxiety."
At that moment, I understood the reason behind my addiction to weed. I was using weed to stop thinking about the past and future and live in the moment. For when I smoke weed, I relax because nothing else matters but the now.
From there, I knew what I had to do. I had to tackle my issue from the root cause. My thoughts were out of control, pushing me to anxiety and depression. So I searched for information and found the concept of immersion. Immersion is when you are completely into an experience that you think of nothing else as you experience it. For instance, video games with high immersion levels captivate you for hours on end. I found relaxation in video games because of my immersion.
So I thought if I were to be immersed in what I am doing, regardless of what activity it is, I can be relaxed at all times! I can be the most comfortable person at any place in the world if I was truly immersed in the environment and people I interact with!
I found that millions of people were already practicing immersion in everyday life by meditating. So I sat down in my candlelit room and I said out loud, "there is no past, no history, no future, only now. I am. I am." as i began my session. I didn't time my session. I would stop meditating when my mind is clear from thoughts about the past and future. At first, i would catch myself throughout the day as my thoughts would spin out of control and just meditate. It didn't matter if I was outside or hanging with friends, I would close my eyes and repeat that line. Calmness would pass through my body, relaxing my face and body. Then I would carry on with whatever I was doing.
On top of that, I found that exercise helped tremendously with calming my mind. Exercise in itself is an immersive experience. You're there, with your body, pushing it and pushing it like nothing in the world matters. And when you come out, your brain chemistry is pushing you towards positivity. I see the gym as another meditation room.
After all this, I've completely stopped relying on weed for relaxation. If I wasn't relaxed, I'd go to the gym or meditate. I became the most relaxed person at every venue I went to. It was to the point where I could sense who was anxious and who was calm.
Smoking itself feels different for me. I no longer think I am happier or more relaxed with weed. After all, I was already as relaxed as I can be. Merely, I would describe it as a different state of mind.
I leave you with another quote:
"A man cannot control others if he cannot control himself"
**TL;DR: OP stopped denying that he had an anxiety problem. OP accepted that his thoughts were controlling him. So OP practiced meditation and exercised daily to tackle the problem instead of smoking to delay it. Now OP does not smoke alone to escape anymore.