Whether you are someone who partakes regularly, abstains altogether or tried it a few times in college, marijuana is getting harder and harder to ignore. Some states have legalized it for medical purposes, NY included. I work with several clients prescribed marijuana for symptoms of PTSD, an anxiety disorder triggered by traumatic events. Other states and nations around the world continue to legalized cannabis as well as looking into potential health benefits of other forms of plant medicine such as Psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, Ketamine, Ayahuasca, and Ibogaine.
As a therapist, I neither judge nor encourage recreational marijuana use. One's decision to use the substance should be carefully evaluated against drug interactions, allergies, health issues and all potential risks. Never use substances while operating machinery, caring for another person or putting yourself or anyone else in danger. I ask my clients to listen to their bodies and if a substance is creating a negative reaction, avoid or minimize use. Marijuana increases depression and anxiety for some. It is also contraindicated for mood and perception disorders such as bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. It can make episodes of mania, paranoia or hallucinations worse.
That being said, studies continue to show good evidence that medicinal marijuana and/or CBD oil can be part of a healthy wellness plan. CBD oil is non-psychoactive and usually derived from hemp rather than marijuana, making it possible to be sold across the country. CBD has many of the positive effects of medicinal marijuana including: pain relief, reduction of anxiety and depression, a boost for our brain and heart health and assistance for individuals in treatment for certain cancers and immune disorders. It is important to note that CBD, like most supplements, is neither FDA approved nor regulated. Due to the illegality of marijuana, a promising health alternative is a dangsrous market to explore on your own. Please proceed with caution.
Though not yet indicated in NY for Panic Disorder, marijuana is a significantly safer medication than benzodiazepines (i.e: Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium) due to the lower risk of developing a physical dependence. Someone having sleep disturbance, panic attacks, reduced appetite and other anxiety symptoms likely may find relief from a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD medicinal dosage. I say “may", because for some, THC has an opposite effect, causing feelings of paranoia and irritability. Like most medication for mental health conditions, individual effects very.
Marijuana and other plant medicines, have the potential to end the opoid epidemic, maybe even addiction period some scientists say. Someone very close to me died due to an opoid addiction, as are approximately 130 Americans on a daily basis. Early research has shown that states who have approved medicinal marijuana as well as recreational marijuana have seen a ~20% decrease in opoid related deaths. That ~20% could mean saving 26 lives PER DAY!! This epidemic has gone on for too long in all of our communities to not give serious thought to other treatment options.