Preferred Name: Jim
Jim is studying for a tertiary degree, is single and lives in a share house. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Australian’: he was born in Australia, as were his parents.
Jim began smoking cannabis in his late teens with friends. Over the next few years his consumption increased and after his relationship with his girlfriend ended, he found he ‘wasn’t doing much else other than smoking’, and thought he’d developed a cannabis ‘habit’. With the support of his friends, he says he ‘got through’ the difficult period after the relationship breakup. Although Jim still smokes cannabis daily, he now feels he’s in a better position to ‘manage’ his consumption. He says he also occasionally takes ecstasy and psychedelic drugs for fun and ‘introspection’. In future, Jim plans to continue smoking cannabis regularly, and take other drugs occasionally.
About a year before the interview Jim and his girlfriend broke up, and he says he got ‘quite sad and down’. Around this time, he says he developed a cannabis ‘habit’ as he was buying it in large quantities, smoking throughout the day, and ‘not doing much else’. He attributes his increased consumption to ‘being alone and not knowing what else to do’, adding that smoking helped him ‘not care as much’ about the end of his relationship.
With the support of his friends, Jim ‘got through’ this difficult period in his life. At the time of the interview, he was in a new relationship and felt he was in a better position to ‘manage’ his cannabis use. He now regulates it by buying cannabis in smaller quantities, smoking only in the afternoon or evening, and taking occasional breaks from smoking for a few days. He also takes ecstasy every few weeks when going out with friends. For him, taking ecstasy creates ‘lovely’ experiences and a feeling of increased ‘empathy’, but he finds the ‘comedowns’ ‘horrible’. After doing extensive research online about ‘what’s happening in [his] brain’ when taking ecstasy, Jim now limits his consumption to special occasions such as festivals. He says he’s decided to limit his ecstasy use so he can avoid what he sees as the negative long-term effects of regular consumption. Once every few months, he also takes psychedelic drugs—magic mushrooms and LSD—to facilitate ‘introspection’. He feels that psychedelic drugs need to be treated with ‘respect’ and should be taken for ‘more than just pleasurable fun’.
In the future, Jim plans to continue ‘distancing’ himself from ecstasy consumption, but says he ‘would never stop smoking weed’. He intends to continue managing his cannabis use so that it is ‘more social’, rather than habitual and private. Jim also plans to complete his studies, and keep ‘being happy’ and ‘fulfilled’.
According to Jim (M, 21, studying, cannabis), smoking cannabis with friends strengthens the bonds between them. (Played by an actor)
One thing that binds our social circle together is the fact that we all like to smoke marijuana with each other. And that’s the thing that we do together. Like, I don’t really see my friends that often, other than if we are smoking weed or at a party or something […] It’s just something we all enjoy. It’s a common thing […] You loosen up, relax and it’s a good time when you chill out and smoke weed with your friends […] And a joint is usually shared between others […] I like to keep it more social […With] all my close friends, I suppose we’ve all grown up together and we’re all close, and that’s something that all have in common […] It brings us together.
Jim says smoking cannabis allows him to ‘see the world in a different light’ and enhances his creativity. (Played by an actor)
[Marijuana] just alters your mind a little bit. It gives you a bit of a shift, gives you a bit of a change. And that’s kind of what I’m after when I smoke it […It helps me to] see the world in a different light. I’m also an artist so I do it for creative purposes as well because I really think it does do things creatively, and things I just wouldn’t think about normally in my right mind. And when I’m high, I just think of things or go into a state. And then when I’m not high, I look back and go, ‘Wow, I did that. That was cool’.
Jim was strip searched by police when smoking cannabis with friends in a park. (Played by an actor)
We got in trouble once because we were stoned and kicking a soccer ball at a park. Like, we were just kicking a soccer ball and having a fun time, having a laugh and we got in trouble. [We] got strip searched and everything in front of these cops because we were kicking a soccer ball and smoking weed. Like silly things like that. Yeah […] it’s ridiculous […] One of the cops even said, ‘I know you are not really doing anything wrong but this is the law and this is what we’ve got to do’. And it’s like, that just sucks.
Jim started to think he had a habit and sometimes an addiction when others suggested he was smoking cannabis it too often. (Played by an actor)
[My marijuana use is] a habit and sometimes an addiction […] It’s just something I do when I don’t have anything else to do, or something that’s kind of familiar for me and I go back to it because it is familiar. And then also maybe addiction, because I’ve done things that I wouldn’t usually do as a person. And I’ve done it to get marijuana or to get high […] I don’t know [when I started to see it this way, probably] when people around me started highlighting it and saying like, ‘You don’t need to do it so often’. Or my girlfriend was saying, like, we’d get high together, but she was never really into it as much as I was. And I would kind of hide weed from her so I could have it when she wasn’t there. And she would find out about it and go, ‘What are you doing?’
According to Jim, addiction involves a feeling of ‘need’ and can apply to any activity that’s experienced as compulsive. (Played by an actor)
[Addiction] is feeling that you need [the drug] or that you want it. And it’s on your mind a lot of the time. It’s always on your mind. It’s always present […] I don’t think it’s a good term, because it’s implying that you need something. But people are addicted to a lot of things […] Like, I know an old teacher [who] used to say she was addicted to exercise, and she was. Like, you’d look at her and go, ‘She’s completely anorexic’ […] But she was addicted to that feeling of doing exercise. And although you could say that exercise is good, if you are addicted to it, it’s not […] good.
Jim monitors his cannabis consumption and cuts back when he notices it’s getting ‘too much’. (Played by an actor)
I’ve kind of tried to stop smoking [cannabis] in the mornings. And that’s something I’m trying to do, and just keep it to with friends in the afternoons or at night time. Because then when I do get too high or whatever, you just go to sleep and wake up the next day. So yeah, there are strategies that I’m trying to use to manage it.
[…Another strategy is] just noticing when it is too much or when I’m doing it a lot. Just having to completely push myself back from it and cut myself off and go, okay, don’t do it for three days […] And just that little kick back stops me from falling fully into it.
Jim says that the concept of ‘recovery’ isn’t relevant to his experience as he doesn’t want to stop consumption altogether. (Played by an actor)
Yeah [it’s possible] to recover from addiction I suppose. But yeah […] at the moment I’m not really, I wouldn’t say I need to recover from my weed use. Yeah, there are times where I think, ‘Man, I smoke too much weed and I need to stop’ but that’s purely for my lungs. Like, if I develop a cough, I’m like, well I just need to get a vaporiser. I need to save up and get a vaporiser, so I’m not affecting my lungs […] I don’t think I would ever stop completely smoking weed because, I don’t know, I enjoy it. It’s something that I enjoy doing and I always will, probably, until I get to a stage where I really don’t like it. But at this stage, at the moment, that’s the reason why I do it. I do it because I do enjoy it. I’m not doing it at the moment because I physically need to, or anything. I simply do it because I enjoy it and more often than not, I have access to it, so why wouldn’t I enjoy myself?