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August 27, 2007

Urban PTSD (Medical, Political)

A feature article on the front page of today’s SF Chronicle describes how PTSD is affecting poor children exposed to violence in the city’s tougher neighborhoods; in that sense, it confirmed what I already knew must be happening in Iraq, where half the population is estimated to be under the age of 16 and where the endemic violence is even worse than in the toughest neighborhoods of the city once extolled as “Baghdad by the Bay.”

Although my interviews of adult pot smokers have confirmed that PTSD can be very effectively self-medicated with cannabis, that notion was obviously  still too politically incorrect any for mention in an otherwise tough report on the  poor job the Veteran’s Administration has been doing with PTSD among Iraq veterans that was written back in December. Although today’s SF Chronicle article deals primarily with adolescents and not soldiers, it was no surprise that it too, didn’t mention either cannabis or “marijuana.” Of some comfort is that the kids described will soon have an opportunity to help themselves by self-medicating illegally.

Of course, they may then be further traumatized by the same law enforcement agencies that haven't been able to provide them with a safe environment to grow up in.

From my interviews I can also confirm the impact of low self-esteem on school performance and the fact that PTSD and ADD can be very difficult to tell apart; in fact, my take is that the DSM is very misleading because it encourages physicians to think of entities that are really emotional syndromes as “diseases.” We simply do not understand either behavior or brain function as well as our drug policy assumes we do and the quasi-religious doctrinal requirements of that policy are currently doing far more harm than good.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 27, 2007 02:24 AM