On Your Side: Medical marijuana and PTSD

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Updated: 5/05/2014 7:17 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- It is estimated nearly 40 percent of combat veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD, and need treatment when they come home. The state of Nevada recognizes medical marijuana as one way to do it.

But the federal government, including the Veteran's Administration, does not agree. It leaves some vets stuck between a treatment they say works and the government, and On Your Side is there to investigate.

"You would get incoming every morning around 5 o' clock," said "Concerned Marine". "You start getting incoming everyday so you wake with fear."

This Marine is a Vietnam veteran who saw lots of combat. "You're jumpy, you trust no one. You fear everything. You get no sleep."

But he says he found a way to cope: medical marijuana. "You get high, you go to sleep. You sleep, you don't dream."

Because the federal government considers the use of marijuana illegal, this marine wanted to remain anonymous. He said he sought traditional treatment at the VA for PTSD, but hated the side effects of the pills he was prescribed.

"If we look at combat veterans and the statistics are only out for male combat veterans is about 39 percent could possibly have a diagnosis of PTSD," said Dr. John Keogh.

John Krogh is a Clinical Psychologist at the Reno VA. He said PTSD can last a lifetime. "The interesting thing about PTSD is that the symptoms that develop are actually normal reactions to an extreme stressor."

Over the years, PTSD has been called several things from malingering, to battle fatigue, even shell shock. One thing that has remains consistent is experts agree it is triggered through extreme stress.

"Medications are a useful tool for PTSD," said Dr. Krogh. "They are a few PTSD medication or medications approved through the FDA for PTSD."

Dr. Krogh said in addition to medication, the therapies offered through the VA include talk therapies that turn down memory intensity. The therapies also address any changes in thought process following extreme stress.

He said based on research, this approach has a lot of success. "They're able to engage in their life, feel emotions, reconnect with their family and be more effective at work, sleep better, those are phenomenal results."

Some vets agree. "They tackled the problem right away, they gave me my medication," said Michael Gunny Rios. "Since then, I have my medication and I take it."

Rios is a marine vet who suffers from PTSD. After years of denial and struggle, he recently sought treatment through the VA and it is working. He said he would never consider using medical marijuana. "It would be hard for me to take it, because that's not what I'm about."

Dr. Krogh also says the inhaling of any smoke is not good for the body. "So some that say if they smoke marijuana or smoke cannibus that it has no ill effects on them. Any amount of smoke that person inhales in their lungs is not a healthy thing to do."

But the Vietnam vet who want marijuana said the other drugs have side effects too. Unintended side effects.

"You give me one pill, now I got to take another pill to counter the side effects, then now I got to take a stool softener," said Concerned Marine. "You see I end up I got one issue but I'm taking 10 pills. Where does it stop?"

"They drink to counter the side effects of it, but if they're smoking marijuana there's no side effect, there's nothing," added Concerned Marine. "They don't have to go get a six pack of beer or fifth of scotch."

There is one big reason that's difficult to give clear answers on the marijuana issue. The federal government considers marijuana illegal, and a Schedule One drug.

It's a legal designation meaning it is not recognized as having any medicinal value. It's the same classification as Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy. Because of that, it is very difficult for any clinical trials or testing to take place in the United States.
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renojim - 5/6/2014 7:21 PM
1 Vote
Thats not from weed, thats from being fat and lazy.

BR549 - 5/6/2014 6:27 PM
1 Vote
I smoked that junk everyday for 25 years. It did nothing for me but kill ambition and ruin my lungs. I wouldn't recommend anybody to use it.Even though I have not used pot in over 5 years,my sense of appetite is still out of whack. I still feel like I have the munchies all the time.

kdavis52 - 5/6/2014 11:07 AM
1 Vote
The only reason cannabis is federally illegal is because back before the prohibition it was in the way of liquor sales. There were banker movements to keep alcohol as the major recreational substance. The propaganda was strengthened during WWI and WWII. "Reefer Madness" they called it. That is why we can't use it. JP MORGAN Banks destroyed Nikolai Tesela's(spelling) free energy for everyone ideas except for AC electricity. BANKS have a major role in what we can and can't have.

davy2442 - 5/6/2014 8:41 AM
1 Vote
In the western states not only are they more liberal with compensation but also with cannabis. My VA dr. Said "I prescribe it" the channels are easier now. Back east they sent me to a drug treatment officer. I can do it with or without. But like the man meant to say - SLEEP WITH ALL CONSTANT NIGHTMARES COMPLETELY GONE - that's with cannabis. People involved in politics have stigmas, I have relief. Ask the wife, no one likes to relive anything at 3 am.

earth420 - 5/6/2014 8:29 AM
1 Vote
It truly does have GREAT value w/ many psychological disorders w/out all the negative side effects that the pills have. Tho it won't work for everyone in the same way, it is worth a try when other things have failed or the side effects of other treatments have become detrimental. It is the ONLY answer for me, a diagnosed MDD (manic depressive disorder ... not quite bipolar,but almost). Unfortunately, getting a doctor to agree is another story .... That's all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump quote)

jvonbyroni - 5/6/2014 3:08 AM
1 Vote
I am a Vietnam era vet who has nerve damage from a broken back which I broke while in the Navy in the 60's. My pain as I age is getting worse but the VA holds back when it comes to pain meds and I found that "Canabis," helps me a lot. I don't smoke but thats the best way to get it to work. There is a better way. Ingesting it, but until the VA allows me to use it I am stuck on Oxycodene,and other Narco's to get relief. The problem is they give it VERY sparingly and I am in pain most of the time. Please VA ,give us this natural substance as it works best. I am disabled,I did serve over 8 years and I do deserve what works. Get off the "Pot. " Jon M. Byron 111 USN,1961-199

DeputyDawg - 5/5/2014 8:28 PM
1 Vote
It's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hint the acronym is usually the first letter of each word otherwise it would be called PTSS.

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