Homeless Veterans & PTSD: Can Cannabis Help?

Returning veterans are more at risk of homelessness due to their specialized training which is not always transferable in the regular workforce, substance abuse, shortage of affordable housing options and mental illness such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that affects two-thirds of our homeless veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The cause of the disorder and why some individuals are more prone to it than others is unknown.

It is known that the condition is usually developed after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as death or sexual violation. Veterans with this disorder may suffer from several symptoms which can include reliving what happened (flashbacks and nightmares), avoidance (severe anxiety, feeling detached and numb emotionally) and/or arousal (anger, difficulty concentrating). Homelessness can intensify the effects of these symptoms and create challenges when it comes to receiving adequate treatment.

To cope with PTSD veterans are regularly prescribed anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants or sedatives with various levels of relief. Homeless veterans have a harder time gaining access to these medications due to a number of obstacles such as transportation and financial limitations. Here in Southern California we have the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, an organization that distributes free marijuana to veterans. Cannabis has been shown to have positive results on reducing the severity of symptoms associated with PTSD. PTSD affects stress hormones which carry neurological information between our nerves and changes our body’s response to stress. Research has proven that our body’s endocannabinoid system plays a key factor in fear regulation and memory retention, areas related directly to the source of this disorder in our brains.

If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with PTSD, come speak with one of our cannabis consultants about how cannabis can help—we’re here for you!

SOURCES
2016 PIT Estimate of Homeless Veterans by State
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Why Are So Many Veterans Homeless?
More PTSD among homeless vets
Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System

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