Suicide amongst veterans in countries around the world is reaching epidemic proportions; its prevalence can’t be ignored any longer. These suicides are mostly blamed on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Veterans urge the government to do research into cannabis for PTSD to end the upsurge in suicides
The Huffington Post reports on ex-servicemen so tormented by memories of horror they have witnessed as peacekeepers in war-stricken lands, that they simply can’t live with it. Memory loss, severe anxiety, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, nightmares, loss of libido, emotional numbness and social isolation are some of the common symptoms of PTSD. These can be deadly, as there has been a disproportionate upswing in suicides amongst veterans in recent years.
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One suicide for every three killed in action
Let’s look at veterans of the Afghanistan conflict, for instance. For every three soldiers who died on the battlefield, one veteran has committed suicide. It is shocking statistics like these that are frustrating war veterans such as Fabian Henry, former Canadian combat engineer, who says he thrived on the adrenaline of combat for 12 years. Now, he is haunted by PTSD.
He and other veterans argue the Canadian federal government should urgently finance scientific studies to investigate the ability of medical marijuana to mitigate the high rate of suicides. Henry founded a PTSD support group, Marijuana for Trauma, in 2014.
Conventional meds trigger suicide
Henry says that in his experience, the medications prescribed to veterans for depression and psychosis to treat PTSD, is of no use. In fact, they cause more harm than good, and often trigger suicidal thoughts.
Fabian Henry’s job in Afghanistan included finding and defusing mines that were hidden. He realizes he is extremely fortunate to have returned home in one piece, but unfortunately, he can’t say the same of his mind. His can’t let go of the fragments of war that still rage on in dark thoughts and memories of comrades he lost, or other atrocities he saw.
Cannabis is saving lives
Henry says cannabis for PTSD is saving many veterans’ lives, including his. It has improved his quality of life remarkably, and he feels normal again. Before, he drank heavily to try and numb his mind and emotions. At times, he got so depressed that he seriously considered suicide. He now feels like himself again.
Side effects of commonly prescribed medicines for PTSD include; impaired cognition (fogginess), lethargy, erectile dysfunction, weight gain and for some, substance abuse disorders.
Government must do their homework
Henry says, it is of vital importance for the Canadian government to start conducting research to find scientific proof of what is known from anecdotal evidence among veterans: cannabis works for PTSD.
Marijuana for Trauma is run by veterans, and has 12 clinics nationwide, serving 4,050 vets with PTSD. The aim is to wean them off debilitating pharmaceutical drugs while educating them on the use of medical marijuana, and helping them to get government-subsidized medical marijuana.
Cannabis for PTSD
The number of veterans turning to cannabis for PTSD has increased 15-fold over the last 3 years. They gain legal access via Veterans Affairs Canada, which grudgingly pays for up to 10 grams per day, while trying to discourage veterans from using it. This is a problem, says Henry, because they now announced the daily limit will be reduced to three grams to cut costs. Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister claims cannabis for PTSD cost an estimated $75 million in 2016.
However, there is evidence that CBD for PTSD could be a viable alternative that will be taken more seriously as it does not induce any form of high. The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that CBD seems to reduce anxiety, a calming effect that helps PTSD sufferers to cope better.