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Risks and Rewards: Cannabis and PTSD

If you’re living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), or another anxiety condition, it can be difficult to find holistic, mind-body treatment solutions in mainstream medicine.

Whether you’ve already tried traditional pharmaceuticals or you have past experiences with mental health counseling, you might be frustrated by a hidden truth about the medical industrial complex: that most providers want to treat the symptoms of your pain instead of repairing the root cause.

At TeleLeaf, we propose a different way: finding the answers within yourself with help from medical cannabis. In this guide, we’re breaking down the rewards (and limited risks) of using cannabis for PTSD recovery to help you create a personalized healing plan.

PTSD: A Nuanced Condition

PTSD, CPTSD, and other trauma-informed mental health challenges are highly nuanced—and often hard to understand for people who haven’t experienced a traumatic event.

PTSD can manifest in a variety of ways, including:

  • Paranoia
  • Generalized (or chronic) anxiety
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Lack of motivation or energy

Even if you don’t experience all of these manifestations (or any of them), you have something in common with everyone else who has PTSD: you’ve experienced something harrowing or frightening in the past that has had a lasting impact on your present.

At TeleLeaf, we can sympathize—members of our team (including our founder) are living with PTSD, too. And we understand how difficult it can be to search tirelessly for a solution in the conventional medical system (and how often the system falls short for people who need recovery).

One of the reasons why medical cannabis is such a good match for PTSD treatment is that for every nuanced case of PTSD, there’s an individualized solution with cannabis. With so many different products and formulas on today’s market and expanding access to marijuana care, the options for real recovery are only growing.

Using marijuana for PTSD isn’t just safe and effective—it’s also unlike any other medical treatment available in today’s healthcare landscape.

Healing from Trauma with Medical Cannabis

So, what does the healing process look like for people who use medical cannabis for PTSD? Let’s break down how marijuana can serve as a management tool, a long-term recovery aid, and a complementary treatment option.

Marijuana as a Management Tool

In conventional medicine, two of the most common management tools prescribed for PTSD patients are:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Whether you’re prescribed as-needed medications like benzodiazepines or more widespread neurotransmitter manipulation drugs like SSRIs, prescription medications are a very common treatment for PTSD.
  • Counseling – Mental health counseling is typically prescribed to help people with traumatic experiences cope with the symptoms of their challenges in everyday life. If you need strategies to get through the day, therapy is for you.

While therapy and prescription drugs are sometimes effective for people living with PTSD (with the former often eclipsing the latter), they both ultimately focus on the symptoms of the disorder rather than the root causes. Coping with everyday realities is critical, but it doesn’t help patients unpack their trauma and recover.

Marijuana can also help patients cope with everyday realities. This could look like:

  • Smoking a joint to center yourself during an anxiety attack
  • Taking an edible before bed to fall asleep more quickly and reach deeper sleep
  • Applying a topical lotion to ease acute pain that triggers unpleasant memories

These are all incredibly valid use cases that fill the same niche as prescription drugs and counseling: helping patients manage everyday life.

But cannabis can also help patients unlock long-term recovery as they unpack their past traumas.

Long-Term Recovery with Cannabis

Let’s dive into that last sentence in a little more detail. What could it look like to find real recovery from PTSD with marijuana?

If you choose to smoke a joint at the onset of an anxiety attack to calm your thoughts, the process could look something like this:

  1. Slowing down racing thoughts – During an anxiety attack (or any other stressful mental health episode), your thoughts and emotions might be moving too quickly to adequately process them or act appropriately. And, since anxiety attacks are stressful, it can be difficult to remember to employ tactics you might have learned in therapy. Patients report that cannabis helps them slow down their minds, giving them a chance to more closely examine each thought and passing emotion.
  2. Examining your internal monologue – When your thoughts are progressing more slowly during a stressful situation, you can take time to identify and investigate them. In this way, marijuana creates a window of opportunity for self-reflection. Ask yourself questions like, “Why does this stimulus make me feel this emotion?”, “Where do I physically feel this emotion in my body?”, or “What event from the past is connected to these emotions, stimuli, or activities?” Your answers can help you inch closer to the root cause of your anxiety attack.
  3. Digging up roots – Once you’ve uncovered some of the less obvious sources of your distress, you can work through perhaps the most difficult and time-consuming part of the recovery process: unpacking and processing the trauma from your past. With time, processing leads to healing and a reduction in the severity of your everyday symptoms.

Ultimately, while pharmaceuticals and counseling primarily help patients cope with everyday realities, cannabis can do the same and pave the way for long-term healing.

Cannabis as a Complementary Treatment

In addition to everyday management and recovery applications, medical marijuana can also serve as a complementary treatment for people living with PTSD. In other words, you can add a course of medical marijuana to treatments such as:

  • Prescription drug therapy – Like having the safety net of an as-needed benzodiazepine? Feeling positive results of a long-term MAOI prescription? In many cases, you can add medical marijuana to your medication profile with limited risk. Just make sure to talk to your healthcare providers about all of the medications you’re taking, including cannabis.
  • Counseling – Finding useful coping strategies for everyday symptoms in therapy? Incorporating marijuana in addition to counseling could help you unlock even more healing potential. Your therapist could also offer more complex questions for self-reflection and healthy strategies for processing traumatic experiences.
  • Lifestyle changes – Is your daily gym routine the only thing that motivates you to wake up? Are you committing more time to meditation, artistic pursuits, or reading as a way to cope with PTSD? Cannabis can also complement lifestyle changes and existing positive habits.

Cannabis: A Low-Risk Option

We’ve touched on the many rewards of using cannabis for PTSD, but let’s explore the risks—or, rather, the lack of risks compared to traditional treatments:

  • Cannabis isn’t habit-forming – Unlike some pharmaceuticals (benzodiazepines in particular), marijuana has a very low potential for dependency.
  • Cannabis is very safe – Also unlike prescription drugs, cannabis has an extremely low overdose incidence—it’s very difficult to overdose on marijuana, and such incidents are incredibly rare.
  • Cannabis is plant-based – While some pharmaceuticals are derived from naturally occurring ingredients, they’re certainly not all-natural. Cannabis, on the other hand, is entirely plant-based.
  • Cannabis is customizable – Cannabis products truly offer something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a specific effect or you’re married to one administration method, you can keep tweaking your medical marijuana prescription until you discover the perfect solution.

Find Long-Term Trauma Recovery with Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis is an exceptional option for people living with PTSD, whether they’re looking for:

  • Relief in the moment (i.e., symptom relief)
  • Long-term recovery
  • A complement to existing PTSD treatment

At TeleLeaf, we’ve seen firsthand how powerful medical cannabis can be for today’s PTSD patients. We’ve also experienced the revolutionary results of medical marijuana ourselves, and we know that real recovery is possible.

We want the same positive outcome for you.

If you’re ready to incorporate medical marijuana into your recovery journey, or if you’d like to
learn more about cannabis, reach out to our team to get started.


American Psychiatric Association. What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?.

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