Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

American Addiction Centers:

Many people who suffer from PTSD also abuse alcohol and drugs, particularly central nervous system depressants like marijuana.

Although marijuana is being considered as a potential mental health treatment to ease anxiety in some people who suffer PTSD, the drug may enhance some symptoms associated with PTSD, making the condition worse.

Marijuana’s Effects on the Mind and Emotions

Anyone who abuse marijuana may suffer serious side effects, and the chances of these are increased in those who have PTSD. The drug is a psychedelic substance, and while it does not cause hallucinations, it can alter perception. For people struggling with anxiety, this can lead to a “bad trip.”

Other negative effects from marijuana include:

Heightened senses
Changes in mood, including depression
Altered sense of time
Trouble with thinking or movement
Impaired memory

Marijuana use is associated with worse outcomes in symptom severity and violent behavior in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder


Objective: An increasing number of states have approved posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, although little evidence exists evaluating the effect of marijuana use in PTSD. We examined the association between marijuana use and PTSD symptom severity in a longitudinal, observational study.

Method: From 1992 to 2011, veterans with DSM-III/-IV PTSD (N = 2,276) were admitted to specialized Veterans Affairs treatment programs, with assessments conducted at intake and 4 months after discharge. Subjects were classified into 4 groups according to marijuana use: those with no use at admission or after discharge (“never-users”), those who used at admission but not after discharge (“stoppers”), those who used at admission and after discharge (“continuing users”), and those using after discharge but not at admission (“starters”). Analyses of variance compared baseline characteristics and identified relevant covariates. Analyses of covariance then compared groups on follow-up measures of PTSD symptoms, drug and alcohol use, violent behavior, and employment.

Results: After we adjusted for relevant baseline covariates, marijuana use was significantly associated with worse outcomes in PTSD symptom severity (P < .01), violent behavior (P < .01), and measures of alcohol and drug use (P < .01) when compared with stoppers and never-users. At follow-up, stoppers and never-users had the lowest levels of PTSD symptoms (P < .0001), and starters had the highest levels of violent behavior (P < .0001). After adjusting for covariates and using never-users as a reference, starting marijuana use had an effect size on PTSD symptoms of +0.34 (Cohen d = change/SD), and stopping marijuana use had an effect size of -0.18.

Conclusions: In this observational study, initiating marijuana use after treatment was associated with worse PTSD symptoms, more violent behavior, and alcohol use. Marijuana may actually worsen PTSD symptoms or nullify the benefits of specialized, intensive treatment. Cessation or prevention of use may be an important goal of treatment.

© Copyright 2015 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

Study marijuana — don’t blindly force Veterans Affairs to prescribe it

by Kevin Sabet  | July 10, 2020 12:00 AM

The marijuana industry has never shied away from capitalizing on a crisis. Most recently, the Food and Drug Administration has been forced to work overtime in issuing warnings to marijuana companies, claiming their products had the power to prevent or even cure COVID-19.

While these far-fetched and dangerous claims have been shut down by credible scientists, the pot industry is trying to force another narrative that runs counter to an overwhelming amount of research: using marijuana to “treat” veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder.

More than 540,000 veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD, which can lead to depression, anxiety, serious substance abuse, and suicide. Unfortunately, only around 30% of veterans diagnosed with these issues seek professional help. Based on industry activism and a few anecdotes, some 23 states have listed PTSD symptoms as a qualifying condition for “medical” marijuana.

But unfortunately, a slew of research suggests marijuana use could lead to far worse outcomes for those suffering from PTSD and other mental issues.

Recently, a study of more than 300 veterans found that marijuana use exacerbated symptoms of PTSD for those who suffered from a marijuana use disorder. This study builds on a foundation of research, signaling that marijuana use among veterans suffering from symptoms of PTSD could cause worse outcomes.

Adding to this, another recent study published in the journal Depression & Anxiety found marijuana use among military personnel with PTSD symptoms may lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Furthermore, a study published by the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that marijuana-dependent Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.

As some 20 veterans die by suicide each day in our country, we need real solutions. As it stands, we could be making this crisis even worse by promoting marijuana use. And this is not the first time research has pointed in this direction, either.

According to the most comprehensive review of marijuana research, conducted by the National Academies of Science, direct associations have been made between the high-frequency use of high potency marijuana and the development of mental health issues including psychosis, depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicidality. Moreover, this review found only limited evidence that marijuana or any of its derivatives could be effective in treating symptoms of PTSD.