I’ve been smoking cigs and weed for the past decade. It started with peer influence, then as a way to perform better on stage, reduce stress, free my mind, and escape reality.
But after several years, smoking wasn’t doing it for me anymore. It was no more fun. I tried quitting a couple of times, and that’s when I realized how deep my addiction was to these drugs. I depended on them to eat, sleep, think, and do just about anything.
My desire to quit led me to ask my doctor for help. He recommended some treatments, but they all failed as I relapsed after a few days. I was in a depressive state until a friend started praising ayahuasca for helping him to quit his substance abuse.
So, I did some digging around, and many people—thanks to Internet forums—pointed me in the same direction. Here’s my story:
Why I Started Smoking Cigarettes and Weed
While growing up, my first contact with smoking was on the TV screen. I grew up in a home where drugs and cigarettes were frowned upon.
But in high school, I started hanging out with the wrong people. They were already smoking and slowly, I was tempted to try it.
I felt like my friends were into cool stuff, and I was taking a back seat. Although I was scared of my parent’s reaction, the pressure to smoke was intense, so I put their feelings at the back of my mind.
One day, I summoned up my courage and tried a stick of cigarettes at a party. I was expecting a stupendous experience, but after the first puff, all I did was choke and cough my lungs out.
I was disappointed till I felt a slight sensation on my chest. With more puffs, the feelings grew stronger. I felt heady and happy. The world looked brighter and at that moment, I felt like I had achieved something great.
But it was impossible to hide my habit from my parents. The look of disappointment on their faces did not deter me, though. My dad tried to advise me, but I didn’t want to listen; he wouldn’t understand how much I wanted to be seen as a cool dude.
My good grades slacked a bit but never went downhill; my relationship with my family plunged, though. We grew distant, and after gaining admission into college, I moved out of home and never looked back.
In college, I met Phil, a small-time rock songster. Phil and I linked up at one of the college frat parties. We discovered our mutual taste for rock music and hit it off immediately.
He had a music group and invited me to one of his shows. That night was fun; Phil was a natural on stage, and I resolved to tell him my interest in joining his band.
My new best friend welcomed me with open hands. I became their fourth member and started training as a drummer and backup singer.
Months later, I moved in with the group and began to attend shows with them. I discovered Phil was a great performer because he took recreational drugs, especially mixing weed and alcohol.
I’ve been smoking and drinking for a while, but my first cannabis experience was with this band. To prepare for a gig, Phil and his companions would spend hours drinking and smoking cigarettes and cannabis—and sometimes opium.
I smoked only cigarettes with them, but Phil urged me to try weed and/or opium to perform better. I didn’t object. Besides, I felt like alcohol and cigarettes were helping me perform and create better, unlike when I was sober.
I said no to opium but decided to try weed for a change. Needless to say, it took me to a new level of high – I saw the world in a different light. After a smoke, I would feel energized to beat the drums and sing until my voice was hoarse.
Oftentimes, I felt euphoric, happy, calm, relaxed, and chilled out. I usually ended my weed session with cigarettes as desserts. Other times, I’d roll tobacco and weed to make a beautiful blunt.
As a performance artist, these substances helped me stay in the moment and bring out my creativity. They also made me bolder amid cheering crowds.
I loved every minute of it and unconsciously, they grew on me until I couldn’t last a day without weed and cigarettes. Drinking was a social thing but getting THC and/or nicotine into my system became a daily habit.
When I Decided To Quit Smoking
For a few years, I delved deep into the world of narcotics and stimulants. My smoking addiction left me in shambles. I couldn’t think straight, plus my share of the funds we got from our gigs depleted on drugs.
When I wasn’t high, I was in a depressive state. My studies suffered and my parents were concerned, but I shut them out.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only person suffering. Phil was so into cigarettes, cannabis, alcohol, and opium that he would pass out for hours only to wake up and continue from where he stopped.
But things went further south when he added amphetamines, MDMA, meth, coke, and ketamine to the mix. Yeah, he went down that rabbit hole.
One dreary winter night, Phil’s addiction landed him in the hospital. He suffered from alcohol poisoning and complications from mixing all sorts of drugs. Luckily, Harold and I were a bit sober to call 911.
Phil spent a week in the hospital and after that, his parents checked him into rehab. The group couldn’t survive the blow. Time to break up.
After Phil’s near-death experience, I was terribly shaken. I had a long look at myself and found that neither cigarettes nor weed was doing anything for me anymore.
In fact, the effects can be detrimental to health. I looked older than 22, and my studies had taken a halt. I wasn’t communicating with my parents as I was always depressed. My mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health was suffering—even my environment had a decaying aura.
My decision to quit became solid, but as any recovering addict would tell you, it was a lot harder than I thought. I tried different methods, including quitting cold turkey. I was smoke-free for two weeks, but then I relapsed.
For the next three years, I constantly battled my addictions. I’d give up smoking but give in to my habit just a few hours, days, or weeks later. I even went two months without smoking, until a girl I was going out with tempted me to smoke a joint. It felt amazing and soon snowballed into the usual daily consumption.
How I Stopped Smoking Cannabis And Cigarettes
Well, I quit school and started working as a cleaner. I could barely survive but was ashamed to approach my parents. They would have accepted me without blame, but I felt guilty for hurting them.
I longed for a miracle and one day, the heavens smiled at me. Phil called me out of the blue and we fixed a date. I had lost contact with him after the alcohol poisoning incident, plus his family didn’t want us near their son.
He told me how he met Harold at an event and asked about me (Harold and I still kept in contact). Phil looked different the day we met. He exuded an aura of peace that I yearned for.
He told me that after rehab, a childhood friend invited him to a group chat about ayahuasca.
The testimonies of people who got over their addictions through the psychedelic brew made him travel to Peru, to experience his first spiritual journey. He didn’t only stop smoking but also began training as a shaman.
Phil’s story was the catalyst for my freedom because, after our date, I got home and did some research on ayahuasca. I joined multiple ayahuasca communities, and others’ testimonies fueled my ambition.
I couldn’t travel to Brazil or Peru because of work, so I researched local shamans here in the city. I found a good shaman and began to prepare for my first session.
I took a week off work and once I got there, the shaman recounted similar stories and the successes his past patients have had. This reassured me that I’m on the right path to recovery and freedom. I was so delighted to have discovered something that works but to be honest, my skepticism still persisted.
You can’t blame me for being skeptical – I had tried different methods recommended by my doctor but to no avail.
Anyway, the session opened my mind’s eyes and revealed some spiritual truths. While purging, I felt like my body was dispelling cannabis, nicotine, and alcohol – my insides were being cleaned.
I also remember reliving episodes of disagreements with my parents because of my habit. Not only that – I was able to put the wasted time into perspective. By now, I could’ve achieved something great in my life. I cried for hours – it was needed and cathartic.
After the session, I had a long talk with my shaman, and I felt better afterward. I forgave myself and slowly began to withdraw from smoking. By my seventh ceremony, I had gotten the courage to finally quit smoking.
The withdrawal symptoms were intense and almost broke me, but Mother Ayahuasca was there to strengthen me. I didn’t relapse one bit – I distracted myself with productive and positive activities like practicing my drums, singing my heart out, and engaging in my other hobbies.
It was an extremely difficult phase but today, I’m happy to say I’m clean and free. I reconciled with my family and it was a beautiful sight. I quit my job and went back to college – this time, more focused than ever.
What Does Research Say About Ayahuasca and Smoking Cessation?
Cigarette smoking is the highest cause of premature, preventable death worldwide (1)https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm. WHO records 8 million smoke-related deaths every year(2)https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco.
In 2020, the organization found that 22.3% of the world used tobacco. And cigarettes don’t only cause deaths, they also lead to lifelong diseases and irreparable disability.
Drug overdose has led to many horrors in the world, and due to its addictive properties, smoking cessation has proven difficult for many individuals.
Western medications(3)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112 used for treating substance use disorder (SUD) don’t always relieve the condition—mainly because abusers are unwilling to take their medications or there are no pharmacotherapies for the substance, such as cannabis.
Just to be clear, cannabis isn’t deadly in any way. But it can lead to all sorts of social, emotional, and mental problems. Some long-term users have rather unpleasant trips, including psychotic episodes. It’s also true that cannabis—when abused—can make you duller, slower, paranoid, anxious, and depressed.
Since ayahuasca became widespread in healing all kinds of illnesses (including psychological conditions like substance use), researchers have focused on the ability of this miracle plant to reduce or stop smoking addiction.
Most results on this topical issue are based on individual testimonies, which are of course subjective. However, research on ayahuasca drinking and smoking cessation is available, howbeit limited.
The few available studies have made an extensive discovery on the relationship between the two variables. Here’s what scientists found:
A group of researchers surveyed 441 smokers(4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35179623/ to find out if individuals stopped or reduced smoking after an ayahuasca experience. Using a cross-sectional survey through an online questionnaire, Dimitri Daldegan-Bueno and colleagues questioned if the intensity of the mystical experience induced by ayahuasca could enable smoking cessation.
He found that the frequency and intensity of ayahuasca drinking assisted in smoking cessation. The participants explained the significant turn in their experience that led to quitting smoking. Some of the ayahuasca events lead to a sudden realization of the importance of their health, purging and vomiting, sensory experiences, and spiritual encounters.
Also, ayahuasca drinking experiences have produced therapeutic effects(5)https://osf.io/e5tjc/, including bodily effects; introspection and emotional processing; increased self-connection, value, and love; increased spiritual connection; and insights and new perspectives. These psychotherapeutic processes fuel individuals to stop their smoking habits.
Finally, a group of researchers surveyed 444 participants(6)https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-08710-001 to study self-reported cases in which natural psychedelics use reduced or ceased substance abuse. The findings revealed that higher psychedelic doses, insights, mystical-type effects, and personal meaning of experiences were associated with a more significant reduction in drug consumption.
Here are some other studies to read:
(1) Ayahuasca: Psychological and Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology and Potential Uses in Addiction and Mental Illness(7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343205/
(2) Influence of Context and Setting on the Mental Health and Wellbeing Outcomes of Ayahuasca Drinkers: Results of a Large International Survey(8)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/351052621
(3) Ayahuasca’s therapeutic potential: What we know – and what not(9)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924977X22008847#!
(4) Changes in mental health, wellbeing and personality following ayahuasca consumption: Results of a naturalistic longitudinal study(10)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/364751649
(5) Prophylactic action of ayahuasca in a non-human primate model of depressive-like behavior(11)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2022.901425/full
The correlation between ayahuasca use and smoking cessation shows positive behavioral changes. However, the literature needs more factual investigation.
In addition, members of ayahuasca communities on Reddit and Quora often discuss how the psychoactive brew stopped their nicotine and/or THC dependency after a series of ayahuasca retreats and ceremonies. They noted that they found it difficult to go back to their habits after their transformational experiences.
Will You Stop Smoking Today?
It has been a year since I quit smoking and living has never felt better. Ayahuasca illuminated and brought joy into my life.
It gave me the courage to reconcile with my parents and return to school. I met my partner, Ashley, who has stood by me while I explored this new phase of my life.
Since my first series of ceremonies, I have been to 4 more ayahuasca ceremonies this year, the last being in Peru. Each trip is phenomenal, revealing a new dimension of my existence and attuning me with my purpose for each day.
I haven’t felt the urge to smoke, plus my body is rapidly healing from the havoc I wrecked during my smoking days. Also, I have joined a community that teaches and inspires people with our addiction and recovery stories.
I’m glad to help people drop their addiction to THC and/or nicotine, and their success stories bring gratitude to my heart. This could lead to your success story as well—just take a step toward Mother Ayahuasca.
None of the treatments and techniques I tried worked, but drinking ayahuasca helped me put things into perspective. I became more aware of my addictions and how they were running and ruining my life.
Drinking ayahuasca is a potent remedy for smoking cessation, and plenty of research and personal accounts have confirmed this breakthrough. So, if you’re addicted to smoking cigarettes and/or cannabis, you should try ayahuasca.
The trick is to make your intention clear before the session. Your intent should be to find out why you started smoking, why you enjoy it, and why you need to stop for your health.
I hope you put a full stop to smoking once and for all. But if you still feel smoking isn’t so bad, at least reduce the frequency. Tobacco is no good, but you can make cannabis a monthly or occasional ritual.
When it comes to marijuana, pay attention to your relationship with it. Are you using it to calm down or to run away from your emotional problems? Is it making you more relaxed or lazy? Be honest with yourself and make the right decision. Godspeed!