How Can Medical Marijuana Help With PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder thatís triggered by a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after someone experiences or witnesses an event that causes intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Many people who are involved in traumatic events have a brief period of difficulty adjusting and coping, after which they improve and get better. In some cases, though, the symptoms can get worse or last for months or even years. Symptoms can sometimes interfere with normal functioning, sleeping, and interpersonal relationships. This is often when the diagnosis of PTSD is made.
Three groups of symptoms are required in order to make the diagnosis of PTSD: (1) recurring re-experiencing of the traumatic event (troublesome memories, flashbacks, nightmares); (2) avoidance to the point of having phobias of places, people, and experiences that are reminders of the traumatic event and (3) chronic physical signs of hyperarousal, such as insomnia, trouble concentrating, irritability, anger, blackouts, and difficulty remembering things. PTSD sufferers often have emotional numbing that manifests as difficulty enjoying activities that they previously enjoyed, inability to look forward to future plans, and emotional distancing from loved ones.
Conventional treatment for PTSD includes psychotherapy, learning coping skills, and family counseling. Medications such as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, sleep aids, and anti-anxiety medicines are often prescribed. Some patients find relief with these treatments but it is well known in the medical community that PTSD is difficult to treat.
Cannabis has been used by many PTSD sufferers with good results, especially for insomnia and anxiety. Cannabis can give PTSD patients a sense of well-being and serenity, and it allows them to continue to function with little to no adverse side effects. There are a number of researchers currently exploring the science behind the use of cannabis for treatment of PTSD and the results are promising. For now, PTSD patients that live in states where medical use of cannabis is legal can use it to help decrease the debilitating symptoms of their illness.
The literature goes back and forth on this, but the only real criticism I can see is that medical marijuana can be used as a substitute for therapy or long-term coping skills which require self-discipline. In other words, it has abuse potential, like any other drug that people with posttraumatic stress disorder might have access to. Which is a silly reason to keep it out of the hands of PTSD patients who find that it helps them to sleep at night, keep their job, stay physically active, hang out with friends, go to therapy, join a support group, and all those other things we have trouble with when the anxiety flares up.
They put me on Klonopin for two years. You do not want to go through benzo withdrawal. For anyone who isn't familiar with PTSD treatment, the medications only treat the symptoms. Valium: no more panic attacks or hypervigilance because you're pretty much a zombie. Sleeping pills: same deal. SSRIs are usually the first line of defense, meant to treat the depression and anxiety, followed by a mood stabilizer to deal with the emotional highs and lows brought on by the SSRIs. These are not safe drugs.
Smoking a joint helps me to calm down enough to stay in contact with people. It isn't emotionally numbing. It just takes care of the runaway adrenaline so that I can think clearly without the constant "You are going to die" feeling getting in the way. I feel like I'm here right now in the present, not stuck in the past. If you've ever been through depression, you know how every negative thing that's ever happened to you and every negative thought you've ever had about yourself hits you at once? PTSD paralyzes you like that.
Medical MJ is legal here... technically... but finding a doctor who is willing to seriously consider it as a treatment option is tough. (Then again, maybe it's my own fault. I avoid everything. )
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