CANNAHEALTH The Opioid Epidemic - Page 40

I had the full attention of my patient and his wife now. Apparently, they had very little experience with a nurse who would express anything remotely positive about cannabis use.

I went on to ask my patient and his wife about his cannabis use. I found out that my patient had smoked cannabis for decades. Ironically, he started smoking cannabis in Vietnam. He was consistently told by the VA Hospital that he needed to quit. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with cannabis-use disorder. Otherwise, he didn’t use tobacco, drink alcohol, or use any illicit substances. When he did quit smoking cannabis, his flashbacks would become a regular occurrence. His insomnia would worsen. He would become so angry, irritable, and frustrated that he would willingly stay in a motel up the street from his home. His wife said that he would never hurt anyone, but he couldn’t be around anyone while in that state. In fact, he lost several jobs because of his mental and emotional distress.

“He doesn’t get high. His goal is not to get high. He just wants to feel better,” my patient’s wife was now advocating for her husband. “I used to have a problem with this stuff because it stinks, and I didn’t want our kids to know that their father used marijuana. But he’s tried everything else. And this is what works best!”

When asked how cannabis helps with his PTSD, my patient readily answered, “It helps me to forget for a while. If the trauma bubbles up, I can stay here. Like here in the present, not caught up in my head. I can deal with it better. I don’t have a panic attack. And I don’t feel the rage and anger. Some days I have to smoke several times just to feel normal.”