How to Make Somebody Stop Smoking Pot

Kathleen Esposito
Man Smoking Pot

There is no way to make somebody stop smoking pot, short of transporting them to a deserted island where the cannabis plant doesn't grow. Just like with users of any drug, it is very unlikely a person will stop unless he or she wants to. That being said, there are steps you can take to support a friend or family member if their excessive marijuana use is concerning to you.

Step One: Make Observations

Think about why you want this individual to stop smoking pot. What is concerning to you? For example, marijuana use can affect memory and concentration and make it difficult for individuals to function at work or school. Other negative effects that you may notice include:

  • Anxiety: Does this person appear more nervous and agitated?
  • Immuno-supression: Is she getting sick more often than she used to?
  • Apathy: Has he stopped caring about things he used to care about?
  • Personality changes: Is there a significant difference in attitude and behavior?

Write down your concerns using "I" statements, such as "I feel sad that when you smoke you give up on your artwork." It's best to approach the person in this manner instead of using attacking "you" statements like, "You are lazy because you smoke too much" if you don't want to be greeted with defensiveness.

Step Two: Approach the Person

Bring up your concerns to your friend at a time when not a lot of stressors are present. For example, don't approach him the day after she gets fired from her job, saying "See? I told you that you would get fired because you smoke too much!"

  1. Pick an ordinary day and invite him to a nonthreatening event, such as coffee or a movie night at your apartment.
  2. Tell your friend there is something you would like to discuss, so that it is not totally out of left field.
  3. Express your concerns using the statements you wrote down.
  4. Tell him you will be there to support him if and when she decides to give up the drug.

Give your friend the opportunity to reflect and speak. He will likely give you one of three responses:

  • He wants to quit.
  • He doesn't want to quit.
  • He wants to stop, but not yet.

You must be willing to calmly accept any of these responses. If he says he does want to stop, proceed with the next steps. If not, they will have to be revisited later when he is ready.

Step Three: Educate Her on Withdrawal

People can become physically dependent on marijuana, especially if they are heavy users. However, symptoms only appear after a significant period of abstinence, since the drug can stay in the system for an extended period of time. This causes some who are addicted to believe that they are not actually addicted and to start using again.

Recovery Specialist Darryl Inaba writes in Uppers, Downers and All-Arounders, "We see that withdrawal symptoms to marijuana are delayed sometimes for several weeks to a month after a person stops." According to the book, these symptoms can include anger, chills, sweating, tremors, decreased appetite and intense cravings.

Step Four: Help Him Manage Cravings

Cravings often sabotage even the most well developed quit plan. Help your friend come up with a plan to manage cravings before they happen, such as chewing on carrots or going for a walk. Put up reminders in his home or at his desk at work. Sometimes snapping a rubber band around the wrist or clicking a pen can be enough to change the focus of the mind.

Help him find alternative social activities if most of his revolve around marijuana or other drug use.

Step Five: Celebrate Goals With Her

Recovery is best done in baby steps. For example, going one week without smoking is likely a significant milestone for this person. You can even make the original goal smaller than that, such as not smoking for 24 hours.

Give your friend a small gift or even just a pat on the back. Keep encouraging and congratulating your friend on each and every step she makes toward recovery.

Helping a Family Member

If the marijuana user is a family member, such as a child or a spouse, helping them may be very emotionally difficult for you, especially if they refuse help at first. You may wish to join a support group, such as Al-Anon, to cope with the person's response to your attempt, whatever it may be. Note that Al-Anon is not limited to family members of alcoholics. It is for anyone dealing with codependency.

Family members often display enabling behaviors to help a person stay in his or her addiction. For example, if you call your family member's boss when he is too high to go to work, stop doing so. Let her face the consequences of her actions. If your son breaks curfew to smoke with his friends, it is okay to ground him.

Learn more about reasonable boundary setting so that you can determine what behavior is acceptable and what is unacceptable to you. Then, stick to those boundaries.

Encourage Outside Support

While you can be a great cheerleader, you cannot put the weight of recovery on your shoulders alone. This is likely to lead to resentment and burnout on your part, especially if the person relapses. Encourage him to join a support group such as Marijuana Anonymous to network with others who are also going through recovery. This is especially important if most people in his social circle are marijuana users.

How to Make Somebody Stop Smoking Pot