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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Medical Marijuana

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Medical Marijuana

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 03/21/2011 in Medical Marijuana Conditions

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a life-altering anxiety disorder that approximately 7-8% of people in the United States will develop in their lifetime. According to a 2008 Rand Corporation study, PTSD affects nearly 20% of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And countless veterans from WWII, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm still suffer from the condition.

PTSD interferes with one’s ability to function with symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, social avoidance, hyperarousal, and feelings of guilt, fear, depression or worry. And a 2010 study conducted at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. found that nearly all combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also suffer from sleep problems. And according to experts, PTSD sleep problems are difficult to treat and can lead to drug and alcohol abuse and even suicide.

Current treatment methods for PTSD involves a cocktail of prescription medications including anxiolytics, sleep medications, sedative-hypnotics and antipsychotics. Vets diagnosed with PTSD regularly take Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax, and lorazepam; anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, Prozac; and sleep medication such as Trazodone and Quinine.

These medicines are often addictive and harmful to the patients. It’s time for a new and more effective medication. According to Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D., Staff Psychiatrist at the Boston VA Outpatient Clinic, characteristics of good drugs for combat PTSD are as follows:

  1. Makes something better for the veteran
  2. Does not lead to tolerance
  3. Does not lead to abuse
  4. Cannot be used to commit suicide
  5. Does not require blood tests
  6. Does not cut a person off from the world or from himself
  7. Causes few, bearable side-effects

Guess what? Medical Marijuana meets all of those criteria. Veterans in all medical marijuana states (and in non-medical marijuana states where, unfortunately, they must rely on the black market) report that cannabis is the number one effective drug for PTSD. And a 2009 study published in the Journal of Neurosciencesuggests the use of cannabinoids may help in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder patients.  Not only is it an effective relaxant, but it also prevents increased release of the hormone that the body produces in response to stress.

But unfortunately, of all of the 14 medical marijuana states, New Mexico is the only state that explicitly names PTSD as a qualifying condition, though it does also qualify in California due to its very liberal CA medical marijuana law.  Veterans and other survivors of trauma are sometimes able to qualify for medical cannabis because of other conditions they have, such as chronic pain from a battle wound. But true compassion for those who have fought for our freedom would mean that veterans everywhere have access to marijuana for the safe and effective treatment of post traumatic stress disorder.

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