PTSD Awareness Month: Colorado approves use of medical marijuana for treating PTSD

PTSD Awareness Month: Colorado approves use of medical marijuana for treating PTSD

After a tough battle, the Colorado government has finally included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the use of doctor-approved medical marijuana. Colorado is now among more than 20 other states, as well as Washington D.C. and two U.S. territories that allow PTSD patients to use medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

Governor John Hickenlooper has brought the years-long fight of veterans as well as advocates to an end by signing the Senate Bill 17 into a law on Monday. Senate Bill 17 gives individuals a constitutional right to use medical marijuana for treating acute stress disorder or PTSD.

Physicians will be able to recommend medical marijuana to PTSD patients as soon the state database listing conditions that can be treated by it is updated. But, in order to prescribe marijuana, physicians will have to review an individual’s medical background thoroughly. PTSD is now the 10th illness for which individuals can be prescribed medical marijuana in Colorado.

The new law has been implemented with certain limitations so as to avoid any misuse or abuse of the drug. It permits an individual to have up to 2 ounces of usable product and not more than six plants at a time, out of which only three can be mature and flowering. However, he/she would be allowed to request his/her primary caregiver for more, in case the need arrives. “Marijuana is not a panacea…before you go to a dispensary, talk to a doctor,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, co-sponsor of the bill.

Recognizing PTSD symptoms

PTSD is a mental health condition that affects any individual who has faced trauma such as the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one or a natural disaster etc. The symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, bad dreams, negative and scary thoughts, avoiding places related to the traumatic event, being easily startled, difficulty in sleeping and feelings of guilt. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), approximately 7.7 million Americans who are 18 years and older have PTSD.

In spite of the signing of the bill into an Act, the members of Colorado’s medical and mental health communities have voiced apprehensions about the inclusion of PTSD for treatment with medical marijuana. Their concern is especially centered around children and teens diagnosed with PTSD. The experts feel that more competent research is needed on the effects of weed, especially in cases of PTSD. Though research in the field is ongoing, the results may not be conclusive for a couple of years.

Treating PTSD

A mental health expert commonly uses medications, psychotherapies or both to treat an individual with PTSD. However, it varies from person to person.

Generally, medicines like antidepressants and therapies like talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and cognitive restructuring are used help alleviate symptoms of PTSD.

Marijuana use can cause addiction

While the government in Colorado and numerous other states in the U.S. have legalized using medical marijuana for treating PTSD, it is important for the medical experts to be a bit more cautious while diagnosing and treating the condition. This is because when one has access to marijuana, medical or not, abuse and hence addiction becomes a possibility.

As June is observed as PTSD Awareness Month, which aims to spread awareness about PTSD and effective treatment options available for the condition, it becomes even more important to be vigilant and seek professional help for the same.

If you or someone you know is affected by PTSD and is looking for mental health facilities in the U.S., Sovereign Health can help. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online to know about the best treatment centers in different states of the country including Los Angeles mental health services.

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