More About Marijuana and PTSD

More About Marijuana and PTSD

 Recent news is full of articles about making marijuana legally available for those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

While marijuana’s popularity may be based on the perception that it is safer than other methods as a treatment for so-called PTSD, a new study just published March 23 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science finds that regular marijuana smokers experience more work, social and economic issues at midlife in comparison to the ones who use pot just occasionally or not at all.

Backing up for a moment, we should mention that PTSD is not a real medical illness. It has become blurred as a catch-all diagnosis for some 175 combinations of symptoms, becoming the label for identifying the impact of adverse events on ordinary people. This means that normal responses to catastrophic events have often been interpreted as mental disorders when they are not.

Indeed, people can experience mental trauma; unfortunately, the “treatments” being used — psychiatric drugs and marijuana — have their own issues.

People take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. Marijuana masks the problem for a time; but when the high fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before.

The University of California, Davis researchers in this newly published study tracked roughly 1,000 young people for decades and found that the ones who smoked cannabis four or more days in a week over many years suffer lower-paying, less-skilled jobs in comparison to those who didn’t smoke pot on a regular basis. Quoting from the study, “Persistent cannabis users experienced more financial difficulties, engaged in more antisocial  behavior in the workplace, and reported more relationship conflict.”

“Against the backdrop of increasing legalization of cannabis around the world, and decreasing social perception of risk associated with cannabis use … this study provides evidence that many persistent cannabis users experience downward socioeconomic mobility and a wide range of associated problems. Individuals with a longer history of cannabis dependence (or of regular cannabis use) were more likely to experience financial difficulties, including having troubles with debt and cash flow, … food insecurity, being on welfare, and having a lower consumer credit rating. Persistent cannabis dependence (and regular cannabis use) was also associated with antisocial behavior in the workplace and higher rates of intimate relationship conflict, including physical violence and controlling abuse.”

The study concludes with, “Our data indicate that persistent cannabis users constitute a burden on families, communities, and national social-welfare systems. Moreover, heavy cannabis use and dependence was not associated with fewer harmful economic and social problems than was alcohol dependence. Our study underscores the need for prevention and early treatment of individuals dependent on cannabis. In light of the decreasing public perceptions of risk associated with cannabis use, and the movement to legalize cannabis use, we hope that our findings can inform discussions about the potential implications of greater availability and use of cannabis.”

We urge everyone embarking on some course of treatment to do their due diligence and undertake full informed consent.

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