I was recently contacted about potentially publishing an article about the use of medical cannabis, and it’s benefits for those who suffer from PTSD. I was intrigued by the opportunity because I know from watching my social media timeline, that many who live with PTSD have considered or are using medical marijuana as a way to cope.
This blog is first and foremost always about trauma recovery, survivors, and those of us who live with mental health challenges like Dissociation, Anxiety, & PTSD. While this article does not specifically cover PTSD from a trauam recovery perspective, it does give some insight into how the use of medical cannabis is helping someone who lives with PTSD.
I hope that you will find the information in this post, both informative and thought provoking. If you or someone that you know lives with PTSD due to any type of circumstances, it may be something to consider.
I have not used this type of treatment for my PTSD, so I cannot personally speak to its benefits or any effects otherwise. However if you are considering the use of medical cannabis, you’ll want to make sure you have all the facts on the legal ramifications where you live, and of course speak to your doctor or mental health professional.
Thank you to Megan Stone and Chris Matich for putting together the following information.
While it remains outside the sphere of federal research, a great deal of evidence, both formal and anecdotal, pinpoint medical cannabis as a possible vehicle for relieving PTSD symptoms. In this article, I interviewed KD Komo, who offered her personal account of symptom improvement through the use of medical cannabis.
Around 7.8% of Americans live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with twice as many women experiencing the disorder as men. There are about 8 million new PTSD cases each year. 31 year old KD Komo, a resident of Pittsburgh’s North Side, found herself amongst this group in early 2014, when she was diagnosed at Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Hospital. Previously she had been diagnosed as bipolar.
“They said the flashbacks and things like that were not apart of the bipolar [diagnosis],” she recalled.
Prior to her hospitalization, KD had smoked cannabis recreationally at a young age, but didn’t use the substance regularly in her adult years. Following her diagnosis in 2014, the doctors at Western Psych as she describes, tried to put her on Xanax (Xanax is a popular Benzodiazepine, or Benzo, that is often prescribed for PTSD related anxiety).
“I was on Xanax for two days and all I did was sleep,” KD recalls her frustration, “I hated it, I woke up groggy [each day].”
In spite of this experience, the first six months following her diagnosis KD tried to go along with the regimen of drugs her doctor prescribed her. After Xanax was ruled out, other remedies were tried, because KD needed relief from her symptoms.
When her symptoms are at their worse, anxiety, “take’s over my body, it kinda makes it so I can’t do anything else for a while, like my head is stuck.”
KD especially experiences this inability to focus amongst her anxiety when she leaves her North Shore home. Being in public gives her hot flashes and panic attacks that make even buying groceries a nightmare. “Different things, and different smells trigger my PTSD anxiety,” K.D. detailed, “and that’s when I usually smoke [cannabis] to bring me back to Earth.”
KD made it clear, after those six months of tried and failed prescriptions, that she “didn’t want to go on Xanax or Benzos.” Around the same time, she found through self experimentation that smoking cannabis helped relieve some of her PTSD symptoms, so she relayed this info to her doctor.
“When the doctor told me what my symptoms were and what I should do when I’m feeling a certain thing, I started paying attention to that more and I realized [using weed] helped,” KD continued, “[my doctor] couldn’t actually prescribe weed to me because it wasn’t available here medically [at the time] so he was just giving me recommendations of what to try.”
While Xanax gave KD no energy to function, and her PTSD symptoms kept her from moving about the outside world, cannabis provided a happy medium to help her focus and curb her anxiety without putting her to sleep.
KD explained that cannabis helps her stay centered, which allows her to focus on things when she is in public. “Without cannabis,” she emphasized, “I don’t think I’d be able to go to the store at all…[with cannabis] I can focus on things, my mind doesn’t wander, I don’t get the hot flashes, or the panic attacks.”
Due to her bipolar and PTSD diagnoses, KD currently is on disability and doesn’t work. She only uses cannabis when
she needs to leave home, “I don’t mind the [PTSD] symptoms because it’s not really affecting me [at home].”
Since Pennsylvania medical cannabis law broke ground in 2016, KD has been in the pursuit of a medical card so she can get more personalized cannabis care options.
At the end of my interview with KD, I asked her if she had anything else she wanted people to know about living with PTSD and she said, “they think medication helps all. Some people don’t want to be on medication. Some people don’t get that help from the medication.” Before ending the interview, she reiterated that she would take, “cannabis over a pill,” any day of the week.
About the Author: Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sportswriting, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin
The contents of this post are for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical treatment or mental health counseling. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership of Surviving My Past.