Many people acquire depersonalization disorder by smoking marijuana.
In this article I want to talk about how marijuana use is related to depersonalization. I want to clarify the relationship between marijuana and depersonalization. There is a lot of confusion about marijuana-induced depersonalization, and whether or not it is different from non-marijuana induced depersonalization. I also want to show you what you can do to totally eliminate marijuana-induced depersonalization and regain a healthy sense of self.
Does marijuana alone cause depersonalization?
No. Marijuana is one of many possible “triggers” for depersonalization.
A DP trigger is a stressor that interacts with a predisposition for depersonalization. Triggers range from hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana, stressful life events, stressful circumstances, or anything that causes intense psychic pain. Depersonalization can be triggered by a very diverse assortment of things. In addition to these acute triggers, depersonalization can arise in a gradual process over a period of time. If emotional abuse in childhood is severe enough, people can depersonalize in early adolescence or before.
A marijuana-induced depersonalization panic attack creates in the person fears of going insane (phrenophobia), fears of losing control, and bizarre sensations leading him or her to feel that the world isn’t real, and that they are detached from themselves. This triggers the acute onset of DPD. It is possible that if the person hadn’t smoked marijuana at all, they would have acquired DP from a different trigger, given their psychological history.
In order to understand how you acquired DP, you have to realize that what seemingly caused the disorder (the trigger) is different from these true underlying causes.
A predisposition for developing DP is caused by a disorganized attachment style, growing up in a dysfunctional family system, chronic emotional abuse, neglect, social isolation, witnessing traumatic events, and interpersonal trauma, or any combination of these elements. These risk factors leave people susceptible to dissociate (depersonalize) in the face of future life stress (a trigger).
Not everyone who smokes marijuana depersonalizes, in fact most people don’t where to buy hemp oil for cancer. The reason is that they don’t have a predisposition to depersonalize in the face of high levels of stress. Marijuana simply sets off a problem that was most likely eventually going to occur during some stressful situation anyway.
Is Marijuana-induced depersonalization fundamentally different from non marijuana induced depersonalization, and should it be treated differently?
No and no. No matter what the trigger is, depersonalization disorder is fundamentally the same disorder, and should be addressed in a similar matter. Everyone has a different and unique depersonalization profile, with different co-occurring and co-morbid disorders (such as anxiety disorders, various personality and mood disorders). Some people may experience more symptoms of derealization than depersonalization. But no matter what “flavor” of depersonalization you have acquired, it needs to be treated in the same basic way.
Many people that acquired DP by smoking pot think that since “I drugged myself into it, I can drug myself out of it”. That’s simply not the case. You may also believe that you have a “chemical imbalance” that needs to be corrected by taking a number of medications or oddball supplements. The studies have shown that medication use for depersonalization is not as effective as therapy. There is no “magic pill” cure for depersonalization.
It also doesn’t matter if you got DP from the first joint you smoked, or if you had been smoking for many months before the panic attack occurred.
How should marijuana-induced depersonalization be treated?
If you want to experience a complete recovery from depersonalization and get back to being your old self, you are going to have to consciously process your past trauma, and deal with the psychological abuse you have suffered. There is no way around this. This is an incremental process that involves experiencing pain that you suppressed and pushed out of your conscious awareness. Processing emotions in little bits has been referred to as having “safe emergencies”. In the same way that pain is involved in weightlifting and muscle growth, emotional pain is involved in developing emotional awareness and resilience.
Recovery from depersonalization requires you to reflect on your previous pain so that you become resolved towards it, and so that you integrate those experiences into your self structure, rather than suppress the emotions, or try to ignore your pain.
It is very likely you never properly identified the source of your anger, which is in many cases a neglectful and emotionally abusive parent. Once you identify the sources of your pain, you can then direct your anger in the proper direction.
The first step in the recovery process is simply becoming aware of the fact you were abused. Most people that got DP by smoking pot are conned into thinking that marijuana is the cause, and the only problem they ever had. The truth is that depersonalization is going to stay with you if you don’t acquire an earned secure attachment style, and if you don’t process your emotional abuse.
There are many noticeable signals that someone has experienced emotional abuse, ranging from a global sense of guilt, intense anger that seemingly comes from nowhere, low self esteem, perfectionism, inability to enjoy one’s self, depression, anxiety, psychosomatic problems, and a plethora of other problems.
Two great books on the topic of subtle childhood trauma are Toxic Parents by Susan Forward and Children of the Self Absorbed by Nina Brown.