Aiming to address substance abuse issues, as well as rising levels of poor mental and physical health amongst the 19 million strong US military Veteran population, scientists have recently published a study showing cannabis may help with many different symptoms experienced by those who have served their country.
Conditions and symptoms reported by ex-soldiers, sailors, and airmen include amongst others:
- Exposure to occupational environmental hazards such as chemical weapons, asbestos, and burn-pits
- Chronic pain
Veterans appear to be more adversely affected than the rest of the US population by issues connected to mental health; the number of suicides in 2020 amongst the Veteran population was circa. 26 per 100,000 (total deaths), whereas in the non-Veteran population, it was circa. 16 per 100,000 (total deaths).
Although 2020 had the lowest recorded number of suicides within the Veteran population since 2006, it still equates to an alarming 16.8 per day.
Published in June 2023 in the journal Clinical Therapeutics, researchers correlated reports from a number of Veterans to produce data to help test the efficacy of cannabis as an alternative to unwanted pharmaceutical medicines currently being prescribed, such as opioids and benzodiazepines.
Data were collected from a total of 510 US military Veterans via an online survey conducted between March 2019 and December 2019. Mental and physical health conditions reportedly experienced by participants included, “chronic pain (38%), PTSD (26%), anxiety (9%), and depression (5%).”
Over half of the respondents (52%), served in active combat during wars in Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea.
Most of the respondents (67%) reported using cannabis daily and around a third (30%) reported using cannabis to reduce the use of over-the-counter medications, including antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and other prescription medicines.
The authors of the study wrote that “Many of the respondents reported that medicinal cannabis treatment helped them to experience a greater quality of life, fewer psychological symptoms, fewer physical symptoms, and to use less alcohol, fewer medications, less tobacco, and fewer opioids.”
Results from the study show that nearly all of the respondents, (91%), reported experiencing a higher quality of life after treatment with medicinal cannabis, and 21% reported taking fewer opioids as a result of using medicinal cannabis.
“A majority of participants (91%) reported that medicinal cannabis treatment helped them to experience a greater quality of life, fewer psychological symptoms (80%), and fewer physical symptoms (73%). Many more reported using less alcohol (46%), fewer medications (45%), less tobacco (24%), and fewer opioids (21%) as a result of medicinal cannabis use.”
“Medicinal cannabis use was reported to improve quality of life and reduce unwanted medication use by many of the study participants. The present findings indicate that medicinal cannabis can potentially play a harm-reduction role, helping veterans to use fewer pharmaceutical medications and other substances.”
Veterans in the USA are also using psychedelic drugs to help them overcome trauma experienced while serving in the military.