Veteran Leo Bridgewater (42) returned from specialist service in Afghanistan and Iraq with pain and PTSD. He became a medical marijuana patient after consulting with his uncle who served in Vietnam. Now he’s campaigning for CBD for PTSD for vets like him.
Bridgewater told Huffington Post he had knee surgery because of an injury he incurred while he was training as a paratrooper. His knee caused him a lot of pain, and that was why he started using medical cannabis. It helped ease the pain immensely. He says cannabis made him move better and feel better.
Psychological trauma is hidden
Most people understand physical pain, but it is the psychological trauma that many soldiers battle to deal with that worries him most. Mental health issues carry a stigma, and many veterans don’t admit to their suffering easily. Leo himself didn’t speak out about his PTSD earlier on because he was afraid it would affect his career.
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Painkillers and anti-psychotics
Most veterans suffering from PTSD get prescription anti-psychotics, and they take painkillers for their physical injuries. Many of these medicines come with risky side effects such as suicidal thinking. The combination of these medicines could make matters even worse. Over-prescription of painkillers and severe dependence has led to the current overdose crisis in the US.
In 2011, after a lengthy service stint, Bridgewater started showing common symptoms of PTSD. He would have nightmares suffer from insomnia and flashbacks, and he had to deal with anxiety and continuous depression. He had concerns about traditional treatments and decided to turn down regular pills and opt for CBD for PTSD. Fortunately, he was already a legal medical marijuana patient in New Jersey.
CBD for PTSD not on the medical marijuana list
Authorities have not yet added PTSD to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana. But, as was the case with his pain, CBD for PTSD helped Bridgewater. Using it alleviated his PTSD symptoms significantly. He used herbal cannabis in conjunction with CBD oil. Soon, his nightmares subsided, and his agitation, strongly associated with PTSD, melted away. Previously, he had experienced fits of violent rage, but these became rarer.
High suicide rates
It is estimated that 20% of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from PTSD and depression. The suicide rate amongst these veterans is 50% higher than average on a national scale. Bridgewater lost some friends to suicide, but when a friend posted a suicide note on social media, he took action.
Bridgewater became an active advocate for medical marijuana in 2015. In 2016, he testified before the state senate along with other veterans. This group want to have PTSD added to the conditions that qualify for medical marijuana. Bridgewater believes that vets should at least have access to CBD for PTSD. It is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis and he says it helped him to cope.
Access to show respect
Leo Bridgewater says he will continue fighting for all veterans to have access to medical marijuana if they need it. He considers it his duty as part of the brotherhood between service members. Society should respect its veterans, he argues, and that includes giving them access to medical marijuana.
Why should they have to seek treatment illegally after they have served their country? Patriotism doesn’t end when soldiers return from war.