Marijuana and PTSD

You may have heard that some researchers and medical professionals are looking at the relationship between marijuana and post-traumatic stress disorder, and wondering, “does marijuana help PTSD?
The following provides an overview on marijuana and PTSD and answers some questions surrounding whether or not medical marijuana can help.

Marijuana and PTSD | Does Marijuana Help PTSD?
PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, and it often occurs in veterans of conflicts and wars, as well as people who have experienced something traumatic. This can include a natural disaster, act of terrorism, rape or an assault. It went by different names in the past, such as “shell shock” following World War I, but combat veterans aren’t the only people who experience the symptoms of this mental health disorder. It’s believed that around one in 11 people will experience PTSD during their life, and symptoms can include having thoughts and feelings related to the event triggering it long after it happened. It can include flashbacks, nightmares, fear, anger, anxiety or detachment from the world around you. Some people may also have severe reactions to certain stimuli that remind them of the event, even if it’s something very ordinary, or they may avoid particular situations or settings. Other conditions that often occur along with PTSD can include depression and memory problems, as well as other mental and physical health issues. Something else that can occur with PTSD is substance use problems, often as people try to self-medicate. This is why it may sound odd to hear that there is some belief that marijuana helps PTSD, particularly since with a PTSD diagnosis it’s important to try and help the person avoid relying on substances. So what’s the truth behind the theory that marijuana and PTSD can actually be helpful together? Does marijuana help PTSD?
So what is it about marijuana and PTSD that has some people thinking there could be new opportunities for safe treatment? Currently, most of the available PTSD treatments are sedatives and anti-anxiety medicines, and they may have detrimental side effects or be habit-forming. Proponents of marijuana and PTSD coming together in the medical world believe that one particular compound found in marijuana, which is cannabidiol or CBD, doesn’t cause a psychoactive high and may work to reduce fear. People who are pushing for more to be done regarding looking at marijuana and PTSD also believe that it can help patients feel less anxiety and calmer when they participate in other forms of treatment, such as talk therapy. There has been some research looking at marijuana and PTSD showing that people who have post-traumatic stress disorder also tend to have low levels of anandamide, and certain components of marijuana may be able to raise their levels.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is at the forefront of learning more about PTSD, as well as the relationship between marijuana and PTSD. They provide services and benefits to America’s veterans, many of whom suffer from PTSD. Their current stance on marijuana and PTSD is that most evidence on the effectiveness of this as a treatment for the mental health condition is anecdotal, and they don’t see the necessary randomized controlled trials to determine whether or not it works. They do point out that research shows CBD can decrease anxiety in people, but the research on CBD hasn’t extended to people with PTSD in any meaningful way yet. With marijuana and PTSD, the VA also points out that people with this mental health disorder often have a hard time stopping their marijuana use, and they’re less likely to respond to marijuana addiction treatment. They tend to have intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop using marijuana as compared to people without PTSD, but they can benefit from addiction treatment under the right circumstances. The VA’s clinical recommendation with marijuana and PTSD is that the use of the drug isn’t approved for the treatment of PTSD, and if someone with PTSD is using marijuana they should be referred to a substance use disorder specialist or program.
At this point, research on marijuana and PTSD shows mixed results. There have been positive and negative results for using marijuana as a way to treat symptoms of PTSD. Some people may feel their symptoms are alleviated to a degree, while for other people there can be adverse effects of marijuana and PTSD, such as experiencing paranoia. More studies will likely be done on the topic, but perhaps more important than anything else to note about marijuana and PTSD is that self-medicating is proven to be ineffective and also dangerous. Self-medication can lead to even more severe adverse consequences because people don’t know how much of the drug they’re using, or even the strain of marijuana they’re taking. It’s possible to purchase a type of marijuana that isn’t even helpful for the treatment of PTSD. Also, the potential for substance use disorder with marijuana and PTSD is also essential to keep in mind. To sum up, does marijuana help PTSD? Maybe, but there needs to be more research done, and regarding self-medication using marijuana, the answer is likely going to be no.
Marijuana and PTSD
How Would You Rate This Page?
Marijuana and PTSD was last modified: September 4th, 2018 by The Recovery Village