Veterans make enormous sacrifices in the service of our country. They spend time away from their families and face unimaginable situations. When veterans return home, many are changed. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 25 percent of veterans returning from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is defined as “a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault” by the National Center for PTSD.
Veterans with PTSD face enormous hurdles in getting the treatment they need. Veteran service organizations are often under-staffed, and there can be a long wait to see a doctor through Veterans Affairs. The available treatments, such as anti-depressants, may not be effective or produce unwanted side effects. Veterans with PTSD are often dealing with other mental health issues as well, including depression and anxiety. An increasing number of veterans are turning to medical marijuana for treatment of anxiety in Florida.
Veterans with PTSD deserve professional advice for their treatment. An experienced medical marijuana physician can give expert recommendations that help ease PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks and feeling keyed up and anxious without the side effects that often accompany other treatment options.
Understanding the Impact of PTSD
The effects of PTSD can be devastating for anyone, but for veterans it holds a certain unfair stigma that sometimes prevents our bravest citizens from seeking and obtaining effective treatment. Let’s dissect what PTSD is and how the condition can affect us:
According to the National Center for PTSD, there are four types of PTSD experiences that veterans face:
- Hyperarousal—Hyperarousal is like being on “high alert” all the time. Veterans may feel jittery, anxious, stressed, or irritable. They may have difficulty concentrating, getting to sleep and staying asleep, and they may be easily startled by loud noises.
- Negative feelings and beliefs—Veterans with PTSD may have negative feelings about themselves or others, which can lead to depression and suicidal ideation.
- Reliving events (flashbacks)—The traumatic events that caused the PTSD can come flooding back, leading to nightmares, stress, and confusion.
- Avoidance—People with PTSD may avoid situations that could trigger their memories of traumatic events. For example, if the event happened in a crowded area, someone with PTSD may go to great lengths to avoid crowds, missing out on important events like graduations and weddings.
A veteran with PTSD may face one or a combination of these symptoms, making it difficult to resume daily life and maintain healthy relationships with loved ones.
Challenges in Treating PTSD
Veterans with PTSD face several challenges when it comes to getting effective treatment. They may be prescribed several medications, including anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and narcotic painkillers if they’re also dealing with injuries. After taking their prescribed medications, many veterans report feeling numb and unable to enjoy their lives. Narcotic painkillers are also addictive, complicating an already difficult situation.
Veterans are also receiving mixed messages from the VA. Since marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, and the VA is a federal organization, things are complicated. The VA has clarified that VA doctors and pharmacy staff can talk about medical marijuana with their patients. This is so that doctors can discuss potential interactions medical cannabis may have with other medications veterans may be taking.
VA doctors are not able to recommend medical marijuana or discuss medical marijuana treatment options, though. Despite this complication, many veterans are using medical marijuana to alleviate their PTSD symptoms. They report that medical cannabis helps to ease symptoms such as anxiety, jittery feelings, and insomnia.
Because of these positive reports and medical marijuana’s effectiveness in relieving chronic pain, veterans groups are advocating for improved access to medical marijuana for veterans. A recent survey of American Legion members showed strong support for legalizing medical marijuana, with 83 percent of households supporting legalization on a federal level.
Florida has legalized medical marijuana and includes PTSD among the qualifying conditions for using medical cannabis. This is only a starting point, though. Veterans are on their own when navigating the process of obtaining medical marijuana for anxiety in Florida and other states unless they seek the help of an experienced cannabis physician.
Treating PTSD with Medical Marijuana
It is vital for veterans to seek guidance when it comes to medical marijuana because of the wide array of options available. Veterans, with the assistance of an experienced doctor, should consider:
- The appropriate medical cannabis variety. Marijuana has two primary chemical components: cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC can improve mood and alleviate anxiety by interacting with receptors in the brain. CBD eases anxiety by boosting the signal of serotonin receptors. The ratio of THC to CBD in different varieties of cannabis varies, so it is important to choose an appropriate ratio for your condition.
- The best delivery option. Veterans can choose from a variety of medical cannabis delivery options. Two popular options are vaping and tinctures. Vaping, which is short for vaporizing, is a popular option that heats the cannabis without burning it, making it a safe, nearly odorless alternative to smoking. Tinctures are liquids provided in medical droppers that you can take under your tongue.
- The right dosage. Knowing how much medical cannabis to use can be tricky, and medical needs often change over time. Veterans may need assistance in finding the right dosage to effectively alleviate their symptoms.
Veterans deserve professional care for all their medical needs. Neurology of Cannabis in Sarasota provides Florida veterans with a safe, understanding environment where they can get the advice and medical cannabis recommendations they need.
Professional Medical Cannabis Advice for Veterans
Dr. Daniel P. Stein is an accomplished physician with over 25 years of experience. He founded Neurology of Cannabis to provide medical cannabis recommendations in a friendly but professional environment. To help give back to Florida veterans, Dr. Stein offers a 20 percent discount on their annual treatment fee along with individualized treatment recommendations and advice.
Dealing with the symptoms of PTSD can be frightening and isolating. Neurology of Cannabis is here to help. Contact us today to set up an appointment to discuss your medical cannabis needs.