Using cannabis to treat PTSD is gaining traction with the vet community. The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) charity reports that of the 1.8 million veterans who served during the “War on Terror,” between 11-20% suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which is a mental condition that affects people who experience or witness traumatic events.
PTSD is not just limited to veterans. It can apply to first responders, victims of sexual assault, or natural disasters. Symptoms can include:
- Reliving the traumatic event, which can consist of flashbacks triggered by everyday events in life and nightmares
- Avoiding people and places that remind them of past trauma and refusing to engage or talk to others about their past experiences.
- Having constant negative feelings – guilt, shame, blame, or having doubts about oneself and their place in modern society
- Living in a state of hyperarousal, being constantly on guard for perceived threats
- Sleep issues because of always being on the lookout and not being able to shut the mind down
- Constant, unwanted intrusive thoughts of past incidents and distressing memories
- Feelings of irritability and aggression, where one is easily angered, prone to outbursts, or engaging in reckless or disruptive behaviors
- Physical symptoms can include headaches, stomaches, or chest pains that relate to past traumatic events
- Emotional numbing, feeling flat and having difficulty experiencing positive feelings
- Withdrawal from life and losing interest in activities, hobbies, friends, or anything that once brought enjoyment and fulfillment
Many who can’t take the suffering end up committing suicide. According to a study by the Watson Institute For International And Public Affairs, since 9/11, more than 30K veterans have committed suicide, more than the number of troops killed in combat at 7,057.
What steps can we veterans take to alleviate these tragedies?
Ways To Treat PTSD
Treating PTSD can help give back control of your life and manage its stressors. Treatment can include:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy – helps one recognize negative thought patterns that prevent you from living a fulfilling life
- Exposure Therapy – helps one deal directly with the trauma safely and effectively, which is beneficial for flashbacks and nightmares
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – following a therapist’s instructions on eye movements, taps, or tones, one can then better process and mitigate distress when exposed to the past traumatic events
- Support Groups – joining a group with others who have experienced similar traumatic events can help reduce feelings of isolation and bring a sense of community
- Mindfulness Techniques – incorporating relaxation techniques, yoga and meditation can help manage symptoms of anxiety and stress
What About Cannabis?
According to a 150-person study by the VFW (Veterans Of Foreign Wars), the use of cannabis can provide solid results for those with PTSD. Other research suggests that CBD, the non-psychoactive component of the plant, can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness. We’re still in the early stages of studying cannabis use for vets; however, it looks like it’s trending positively.
Other non-traditional forms come into play in helping cope with PTSD. Using psychedelics like psilocybin can also reduce anxiety for some “heavy drinking days and alcohol consumption.”
What’s The Answer?
At this time, there’s no silver bullet on what can cure PTSD symptoms. However, non-traditional methods like cannabis and psilocybin may gain more popularity and viability than taking pills promoted by Big Pharma.