It was disturbing sitting through yesterday’s senate hearing into veteran suicide. There was a lot of attention on DVA, with good reason, examining the obstacles to access treatment, but not much talk about the treatment itself.
As a background, the symptoms of PTSD, in many people, do not respond to conventional treatments. This is a big part of the problem.
There was enough mention of substance abuse being a common symptom amongst PTSD survivors, but no discussion.
Unfortunately this is because this topic is taboo.
There is a culture of silence, particularly enforced in the military, around drug use. It’s based on stigma and mis-information and FEAR..
So what happens when these factors combine?
When you’ve got Drs and Psychs dealing/dispensing multiple heavy psychotropic medications, combined with opiates and benzos, you are encouraging risk in a high risk group.
The side effects of these drugs alone, for some people, create suicidal ideation, increase depression and when you start combining ANY drug with another drug, you increase the dangers associated with the toxic interactions of these compounds.
If you want to drink alcohol as well, which is a common coping mechanism to numb painful emotions, you might just end up having psychotic episodes. This is not a good place to be in or witness.
Some people respond well to drugs used in psychiatric treatment. Others try taking an anti depressant, and can’t continue. It doesn’t make them feel any better, in fact, they feel so strange and uncomfortable, they stop. It’s worse than how they already feel ..
Imagine pushing through that, and taking upwards of 10 pills a day, under your specialists’ professional advice.
This is toxic for some people. If you want to read through the adverse side effects expected with this form of treatment, you might not go there in the first place, but people are desperate, families are hurting.
What we need to talk about is how to reduce the risk and harm in this situation.
The science exists for individuals to identify their genetic capacity to tolerate these meds, before they try them.
Research, the scientific peer reviewed evidence, shows that exposure therapy increases symptoms and simply, the drugs often don’t work.
We need to continue investigating the endo-cannabinoid system to understand how humans deal with trauma, fear, memory and recovery.
Why do we find low concentrations of endo-cannabinoid plasma levels in survivors of trauma?
Why did research in the states show, that after discharge from PTSD treatment, more than any other drug, veterans begin to self medicate with cannabis..? Why?
Cannabis is showing positive results in reducing suicidal ideation. NO OTHER DRUG has proved these results in scientific studies.
We need to encourage and facilitate a broader range of treatments so that we have more options besides increasing dosages on meds that don’t work.. and ECT.
We need new ideas to help address veteran suicide and encourage the safest and most suitable combination of treatments for trauma recovery for the individual. – Brooke