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For Veterans With PTSD, Medical Marijuana Can Mean a Good Night’s Sleep

  • David Bass, a US Army officer who served for 20 years, describes how insomnia can begin for soldiers.
  • Soldiers who in the combat zone had Ambien-induced sleep – and had been readily supplied it by medical personnel there to ensure some means of getting rest — find their supply cut off, said Bass.
  • “One of the reasons [we’re] so adamantly working for medical marijuana was that we discovered it was the answer to insomnia,” Bass said, referring to himself and his veteran friends who were experiencing sleeplessness.
  • Dealing with chronic pain and severe insomnia, Veterans Administration doctors prescribed him a cornucopia of drugs — including Ambien and opioids.
  • Martin, who shares his story in the most recent installment of Eyes Wide Open: A Podcast About Cannabis and Insomnia, says despite his miscalculation, he was so determined to get off of prescription drugs, he tried cannabis a couple of more times before getting it right.

Ambien is often used during deployment. But what happens when soldiers return stateside and need to get off the med cycle?

Too many American veterans face a new enemy, encountered months or many years after leaving active duty: sleeplessness.

David Bass, a US Army officer who served for 20 years, describes how insomnia can begin for soldiers.

“In the combat zone,” Bass says, “sleeping is extremely difficult. You’re adrenalized all the time, under tremendous pressure all the time to accomplish the mission. So you’re operating on extreme lack of sleep. My experience in Iraq was that medical personnel gave us Ambien. I personally became addicted to Ambien so I could sleep. Some of my friends who were also officers were also using it when we were there.”

But Ambien-induced sleep is different from regular sleep. “[Ambien] has some side effects,” said Bass. (Ambien is notorious for these known side effects). “I’ve seen people sleepwalking. That’s not a good thing to do in a combat zone—doing things and having no memory of it.”

Even without those side effects, there’s still the problem of Ambien addiction once a soldier leaves the combat zone and return home. Soldiers who in the combat zone had Ambien-induced sleep – and had been readily supplied it by medical personnel there to ensure some means of getting rest — find their supply cut off, said Bass. Many turn to what’s available: unlimited quantities of alcohol. After deployment, “those of us dependent on Ambien used alcohol instead,” he said.

Even as he was dealing with his Ambien addiction, Bass…

For Veterans With PTSD, Medical Marijuana Can Mean a Good Night’s Sleep

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