“Hello everyone. My name is Alex, and I’m a potoholic.”

There comes a point in most stoners’ lives when they realize that perhaps they love the herb just a little too much. Perhaps your lungs aren’t quite what they used to be. Maybe your bank account is a decimal place short of 420. Have you realized the axiom “Study high, take the test high, get high scores” is actually just a line from a stoner movie?

It is smart to consider what type of relationship you have with cannabis. It affects the social, physical, economical, emotional and spiritual areas of life. Weed bags should never bring baggage. If cutting back is a healthy choice for you, first establish why using less cannabis will create a better relationship. Also consider the perks of being sober: More energy, more free time, a clearer head, making mommy and daddy proud.

Once you’re good and motivated, (forgot to mention that more motivation and better memory are also perks) it’s time to discern how to cut back. Limiting smoking to certain days of the week is not a good idea. Imagine being sober on a day when that sexy lady from your psych class offers to smoke you out. Now you are between a joint and a hard place… or behind a hard place. The point is to retain flexibility with cannabis. Instead of putting a limit on how much or when to smoke, consider whether it is appropriate in each new situation. Job performance lagging? Don’t smoke before work. Grades in the shitter? Get homework done first. Ass groove in the couch? Make time for exercise.

Some of us love grass so much that it seems impossible to just cut back. Going on a vacation from smoking is the next option. This requires different strategies. Try taking any paraphernalia used to get high out of the house. My friends can vouch: People do not mind holding onto a bong for you. The only condition should be that they will not let you smoke out of it (and promise to treat it like a dear pet, obviously). Let everyone know that you and the reefer are taking some time apart. Enlist a buddy for encouragement, someone to give a high five when they know it has been a sober day. It helps you hold yourself more accountable when another body is looking out for you.

Next is dealing with cravings. Your brain becomes your own worst enemy here. It comes up with soothing thoughts, like, “It’s not a big deal — just this once,” and, “But I always go to the movies high.” RESIST THE TEMPTATION! To do this, distract your brain from the endless line of justifications. A change of scenery usually means a change of mind. Go walk outside, visit a friend, paint a picture. Keeping your brain occupied with non-pot thoughts is amazingly effective at quieting it. Try to note when these thoughts occur. Humans are creatures of habit; stoners develop habits around their smoking patterns. By being aware of how and when a “need” hits, the pattern can be recognized and broken. If will power is lacking, avoid places where it is enticing to smoke. This may mean not hanging out with friends when they get high.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if necessary. There are many resources besides friends that can help. Students Teach Drug and Alcohol Responsibility, S.T.A.R., can give you tips and information. One of its services is giving group presentations to students. Our campus offers free counseling in the Counseling and Career Services building. There is a Drug & Alcohol Program on campus. It offers drug- and alcohol-specific counseling. Visit http://alcohol.sa.ucsb.edu/index.aspx for more info.

So here’s some stuff this self-proclaimed pothead has gathered: Persistence is crucial. It is important to recognize and mediate negativity in life. Beating yourself up or feeling guilty does no good at all. An addiction is only compounded with stress. Relax — it’s okay to mess up. That’s what people do. Give yourself recognition and encouragement for creating positive change. Just being aware enough to reevaluate yourself puts you ahead of the curve. Think of this: Bob Saget once said in the film “Half Baked,” “I used to suck dick for coke. Now that’s an addiction. You ever suck some dick for marijuana?” If you haven’t, things could be worse.