Whenever we hear about PTSD, we usually think about military soldiers, or people with jobs that expose them to extreme situations, like police officers or firefighters. But it can also affect anyone who has been exposed to any kind of severe traumatic situation. Currently, doctors prescribe treatment in the form of pharmaceuticals, but other options, such as marijuana, may be more beneficial for those suffering from PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD symptoms include flashbacks of the traumatic experience, angry outbursts, avoidance, and self-destructive behaviour. Unlike other emotional or physical traumas, PTSD doesn't go away with time, and those suffering may have to deal with the condition their entire lives.
For a long time there was little done to combat PTSD, especially among soldiers, because of the associated stigma. However, recognition of the condition has changed over time, and medical practitioners have begun to prescribe powerful pharmaceuticals like Xanax and Zoloft. While these drugs may help to relieve some symptoms (such as anxiety and depression), they also have the side effect of leaving many patients feeling numb and emotionless.
These treatments have had little effect on the crisis afflicting members of the armed forces and civilians suffering from PTSD. In fact, the suicide rate for the Canadian army is more than double the rate for average citizens, due to the troubling combat experiences that can resurface regularly.
Aid of marijuana
Some have turned to marijuana as a remedy, which they find to have less serious side effects. They also find the plant to be more effective at helping them cope with the anxiety and fear that comes with PTSD. The trouble is, marijuana can still be difficult to access legally for many Canadians, leaving them with limited legal access. As a result, they are forced to seek alternative (illegal) means of acquisition.
Part of the reason for this is a lack of research on how marijuana can be used as an effective treatment. Because researchers have difficulty accessing cannabis, conducting proper studies has proven to be a challenge.
In Canada, however, researchers are seeking to add some scientific weight to existing anecdotal evidence. As one example, Apollo Applied Research is a research company formed to study the effects of marijuana for treating a number of conditions, including PTSD.
The initial study, which began in March of 2016, is currently underway. It will enroll 352 patients with the disorder. Over the next four months, the team will work to determine how useful marijuana is for treating PTSD and which strains are best for helping patients relieve their suffering. The study is backed by Col. Pat Stogran, who suffers from PTSD himself and has been championing better treatment for others who served in the armed forces.
If the anecdotal evidence is any indication, marijuana could be a much safer treatment for those suffering from PTSD. Ultimately, this is one example of how regulated marijuana could help save lives.