Originally appearing at http://www.salem-news.com/articles/may052011/cannabis-ptsd.php. No recruit ever considered that basic training would be easy, and in a time of war, they quickly discover that combat is a far cry from Hollywood’s portrayal. Reality is what it is. Dr. Phil Leveque knows this to be true. He served in the US Army and lived through World War II- and bears the scars within to this day. “We were psychologically and physically stretched beyond normal limits and many recruits died. A bunch more were permanently psychologically damaged and the end result was PTSD even during training.” Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder which can occur after witnessing or experiencing even one traumatic event, especially when it involves injury or death, or the threat thereof, so being in a war takes that trauma to new levels. It is important to note that PTSD can be, and usually is, a long term/lifetime problem. A recent report estimated that up to 40% of the Middle East veterans would be victims of combination of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Maybe more. As a regular general practice physician and later as a marijuana doctor, Dr. Leveque saw the devastating results of the effects on veterans for generations. Frequently, during the post-trauma time, with no better idea at hand, Dr. Leveque says that many PTSD patients discover that alcohol “drowns ones sorrows”. Also during this post-trauma time, some caregiver will say to himself,”let’s treat this patient’s PTSD” and here come a mélange of medications. The various and numerous treatments leave very much to be desired; in fact their treatments have far more failures than successes. “Those same pseudo-doctors and paper-pushers decry the use of marijuana,” says Dr. Leveque. “The veterans use it preferentially, to the zombifying and/or addicting drugs prescribed wholesale by those ’caregivers’, who then blame the victim for using a medication which works: Marijuana.” Dr. Leveque was convinced that there was a better way. And in the state of Oregon, it was so. “I was asked by a healthcare professional at the Portland VA Hospital if I would help PTSD Veteran Victims to get permits to use legalized medical marijuana. I already had some Veteran patients from WWII, Korea and Vietnam, so I obliged. “Within two weeks I had more than 50 Nam Vets requesting my help. As part of their medical history I asked what previous medicines they had been given or prescribed. “There were two main types: strong pain killers (like Oxycontin, Morphine and every related pain killer), and anti-depressants. “I was flabbergasted to read the anti-depressant list of many patients; Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, on through the whole list of about 12; but nothing shocked me like the dangers they admit to! The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says they can cause very bad adverse side effects including anxiety, depression, addiction, severe withdrawal, homicidal rage and suicide.” It makes one wonder why they should be given to a psychologically fragile PTSD patient. Other PTSD medications are common sedatives, strong analgesics, muscle relaxants, etc. almost all of which make the patient groggy, stupefied and possibly more non-functional than the PTSD itself. Marijuana is not dangerous and has never killed anybody in 4,000 plus years of use. As Dr. Leveque likes to say, “It is about as dangerous as a Starbucks espresso, and probably a lot less so.” Veterans with PTSD were some of the first to discover that its medicinal qualities outweighed those of typical pharmaceutical drugs. Medical marijuana acts as a homeostatic modulator, which means that it is used to help patients get back into a normal state, based on the extent and cause of their PTSD and many other physical/ mental/ psychological conditions. Medical marijuana reduces pain and memories of pain, modulates emotional reactivity, modulates negative affect (depression), relaxes skeletal and smooth muscle, modulates mood decreasing anxiety and insomnia, and acts as an antidepressant without adverse effects. According to Dr. Leveque, the “medical” care givers of these PTSD vets seem intimidated. Yes, by the PTSD vets. And, he says “they should be. At this stage of their lives as veterans they don’t have to take any paternalistic crap from anybody. THEY HAVE PAID THEIR DUES!” Now is the time to tend to the Veterans of today, suffering from PTSD. Legalize Medical Marijuana- they need it, and it works!
Thousands of veterans already use marijuana to treat PTSD symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia, emphasizing the pressing need for research into the safety and effectiveness of different strains and delivery methods. Having received FDA approval for our planned study of marijuana for PTSD in veterans, MAPS is now waiting to find out whether the National Institute on Drug Abuse/Public Health Service will allow us to purchase the marijuana we need for the study.