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Is Cannabis Effective in Treating Symptoms of PTSD

January 15, 2020 11:51 am ET
Is Cannabis Effective in Treating Symptoms of PTSD

Cannabis has become a popular option for treatment amongst a wide variety of conditions. People who can’t sleep at night or have trouble eating now can turn to this drug as a treatment in the majority of states. Although there isn’t that much information relating to the relationship between cannabis and these conditions, more and more people are considering using it medicinally every day. This goes for people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well. Without enough evidence to prove its validity one way or another, the option has mixed opinions. 

What is PTSD?

Let’s start by explaining what PTSD is. This psychiatric disorder can occur after traumatic life experiences, like the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, sexual abuse, or war. Those who experience PTSD may experience extreme nightmares, mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, and flashbacks. Re-experiencing, avoiding, and heightened arousal are all characteristics of someone experiencing PTSD.

The Debate on Using Cannabis to Treat PTSD

The debate of whether or not cannabis is a viable option for treatment for this group of people has gone on for a while now. Some believe this is one of the best solutions to their many problems. Cannabis has direct effects that would benefit someone with PTSD. Using cannabis can help an individual fall asleep at night and prevent them from having nightmares. Anxiety and irritability are other areas where cannabis can help alleviate some pain. Finally, cannabis can help suppress unwelcome memories of past experiences by simply getting high.

On the other hand, many people believe cannabis could have negative effects on someone with PTSD. It’s a fine line between abuse and treatment, but if cannabis is over-used and abused, it could potentially worsen the symptoms. The idea behind this argument is that the symptoms of PTSD are very similar to the negative experiences associated with cannabis. For example, those who smoke cannabis are susceptible to having a “bad trip,” which includes anxiety, paranoia, and being stuck in your head. If this were to happen to someone who experiences PTSD, it might trigger them, or possibly worsen the condition. Long-term use is especially not recommended, as it can negatively affect anyone.

The Legal Status of Cannabis is Preventing Research

The only thing that is holding us back from knowing whether or not cannabis is an appropriate solution for PTSD treatment, is the federal government. As soon as they federally legalize the drug, federal research will be conducted to better understand its effects. More and more people are welcoming the idea of using cannabis to treat their conditions, there just isn’t enough evidence to charge the official’s minds. The Department of Veteran Affairs would also be able to provide more support to veterans if the drug was removed from the Controlled Substance Act.

The department is forced to agree with whatever the federal government says in terms of illegal drugs. In other words, as long as cannabis is a schedule 1 drug, it will be off-limits for veterans via VA. That’s not to say the VA discourages cannabis use. Veterans are encouraged to discuss the option of using cannabis to treat their conditions. VA Providers are not allowed to prescribe or recommend the use of cannabis, but they can give you more information on their relationship. Finally, it’s important to know that veterans will not be denied their benefits because of cannabis use.

PTSD is a serious condition that limits the way someone lives their life. It makes people afraid to live because of the fear of past traumas occurring again. When you look at it from this sense, it makes one wonder why more research hasn’t been done on this relationship between PTSD and cannabis. This method of treatment isn’t for everyone, but officials aren’t even giving veterans the choice, forcing them and the VA into an awkward position. The only way cannabis will be publicly accepted as a way of treatment for PTSD is when the government federally legalizes the drug. 

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