Marijuana as a PTSD treatment option

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The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use in many states has prompted some research into its use for various mental disorders. One of these is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While the Veteran's Administration doesn't recognize marijuana as a medicine, some physicians and mental health providers in the VA system will unofficially refer patients to medical marijuana-prescribing private physicians.

One of these physicians is Dr. Phillip Leveque in Oregon, who specializes in medical marijuana for PTSD. Leveque is a veteran combat infantryman, a pharmacologist, a forensic toxicologist and a physician. He is also a proponent of medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD and some combat- and military service-related trauma.

He writes in Salem News: "PTSD in the war veterans is about 2 million patients with 22 suicides a day and 8,000 in the last one year. PTSD has been treated with a wide variety of medications. None of [which] work well, or consistently."

A New Method

PTSD patients are often given painkillers, anti-depressants or both. The painkillers, often of the robust type like narcotics, are detrimental to leading a normal life due to their depressive nature. Anti-depressants, usually of the serotonin re-uptake inhibitor type, have many side effects, which can often be worse than the original problem.

Through unofficial referrals from the VA, Leveque says, he has treated more than 100 veterans with PTSD and various problems from service-related trauma – all with marijuana. Though he treats patients only in Oregon and Washington where medical marijuana is legal, he consults with patients nationally and has found that marijuana often works well where other methods have failed.

So far, few scientific studies into the use of marijuana to treat PTSD and similar mental illnesses have been conducted. Most have been done in Europe, given the difficulty researchers face in obtaining marijuana and gaining permissions to conduct research in the United States.


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