Cannabis: A better treatment for military veterans with PTSD?

More than 250,000 combat veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)1.

According to the Veterans Administration, 22 of them commit suicide every day2. That’s more than 8,000 suicides per year – more deaths3 from suicide per year than the total number of Americans lost in combat over the 14 years since 9/11.

Many of these veterans say the one thing that helps is cannabis. Some say cannabis has saved their lives.  Is cannabis a better treatment for PTSD than the drugs physicians prescribe for PTSD patients, including military veterans?

Anecdotal evidence from veterans and others using cannabis for their PTSD suggests the answer is yes. But there are barriers preventing physicians from recommending cannabis to their patients – and preventing many patients who want to use cannabis for their PTSD from being able to do so.

One of the barriers is a lack of clinical data surrounding the potential efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. That’s why MAPS is sponsoring a randomized, triple-blind study by Sue Sisley, M.D., and Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., to test the safety and efficacy of using cannabis to treat PTSD. To learn more, visit  MAPS Medical Marijuana research page.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has awarded a $2.2 million grant to help fund the study. This grant does not cover the full cost of the study. Donations to help pay for this important research are needed now to help set up the treatment rooms, and secure the final round of required government approvals.

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Sources

1 http://www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html “As of September 2014, there are about 2.7 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars . . . According to RAND, at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression.”

“Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery,” A RAND Corporation study, Terri Tanielian and Lisa H. Jaycox, Editors. (http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG720.pdf “ . . . we estimate that approximately 300,000 individuals currently suffer from PTSD or major depression and that 320,000 individuals experienced a probable TBII during deployment.”.

2 Janet Kemp RN PhD and Robert Bossarte, PhD, “Suicide Data Report, 2012;” the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mental Health Services, Suicide Prevention Program, page 18

3 According to http://journilistsresource.org, there have been 6,852 U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.