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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder​ and Medical Cannabis

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is life-altering, sometimes paralyzing sufferers for years past the awful occurrence. When trauma is severe, sufferers may immediately repress it, showing zero signs of emotional pain until months or years after the episode. No matter how long it takes for PTSD to kick in, when it does, it can become life-threatening, and the spiral downward could be detrimentally quick.

PTSD is a mental disorder occurring after a person witness or experiences a life-threatening event including military combat, a terrorist attack, car accident, natural disasters, and sexual abuse. PTSD can occur to anyone at any age, with sufferers most unable to control the side effects.  Sidran Institute reports up to “70 percent of adults have experienced a traumatic event at least one time in their lives, and 20 percent of these people will develop PTSD,” while the Mayo Clinic reports common PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, night terrors, detachment, cynicism, insomnia, easily frightened, guilt and regret among others.  

Veterans Using Cannabis For PTSD

In the last decade, PTSD has significantly impacted veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports higher numbers of PTSD based on each war. Up to 20 veterans out of 100 returning from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD, while 12 out of every 100 soldiers from the Gulf War are suffering from it. However, due to cannabis still being labeled by the federal government as a Schedule 1 substance with no medical value, the VA does not condone its use. 

Veterans who seek disability compensation for PTSD have increased significantly and account for up to 20% of overall sufferers, costing the VA $4 billion in compensation. The number of people that seek medical cannabis treatment to alleviate PTSD symptoms is growing fast as medical science proves it benefits numerous conditions. Using mice, respected Israeli neuroscientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered the positive effect of medical cannabis on memory extinction, which is the normal and healthy process of forgetting. 

Dr. Mechoulam concluded cannabis could help patients with PTSD, who gradually stopped responding negatively to stimuli associated with the traumatic situation that occurred. However, not all doctors agree, including Dr. Edward Gogek, a private practicing addiction psychiatrist. “You are talking about giving an addictive drug to people with substance-abuse disorders” said Dr. Gogek. 

While Dr. Gogek believes in counter PTSD treatments, former University of Arizona professor Dr. Sue Sisley concludes that medical cannabis can in fact treat veterans with PTSD who were unable to get relief from conventional medicine.  Navy Special Warfare veteran Adam Smith was ready to give up after suffering from severe anxiety and depression upon his return from the war until he used CBD. “We go into this big dark hole, and that is where I found myself in 2016,” the 17-year military veteran said in an Allied press release.

Smith, who supports the Veteran Cannabis Project, said the group is trying to legalize cannabis on a federal level along with holistic medicine company Allied. “I want the federal government to stop pussyfooting around and make a decision regarding CBD,” he said.

Cannabis Use Among Sexual Abuse Victims

PTSD is also highly reported in sexual abuse victims, who suffer notable behavioral and psychological changes including hyper-sensitivity and interfering thoughts long after the attack. Not only has CBD reportedly alleviated anxiety and depression in PTSD sufferers, but it can also help with vaginal tightness and dryness, which often occurs after an attack. 

Bottom-line, medical cannabis, and CBD have shown great success in treating PTSD. As further research and legislation continually alter the medical cannabis industry, it is quite likely the success rate for helping PTSD sufferers will rise.  

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Data Last Updated 01/12/2021

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