Tag Archives: Veterans

Veteran grieves his mistake — using marijuana for PTSD

Disabled Marine Says Marijuana is Not Preferable to Pharma Drugs

By Andrew ,  a veteran’s testimony from Oregon

I wish there were better warnings and awareness on marijuana (there aren’t, currently, under Oregon regulations), especially in regards to mental health.

I am a 100% disabled combat veteran who served in the U.S. Marines during the Iraq War in 2003-2005. I never made any progress in my post-traumatic stress disorder when I was self-medicating under the elusive medical marijuana card. Continue reading Veteran grieves his mistake — using marijuana for PTSD

Remember Andy Zorn: My Son’s Killer

On Veteran’s Day we honor Andy Zorn who died in March 2014, age 31.  His mother Sally Schindel wrote this statement about his killer.

Andy Zorn’s mission was to make friends and families laugh.  He was the class clown.  He made parties come alive.  As he grew older, he helped friends through tough times.  He served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq.

His bright future, however, masked a dark secret.  Marijuana abuse took him down a spiral suicide help lines, hospitalizations in five mental health hospitals and two stints of court-ordered mental health treatment.  He told his mother, father and social worker he had to quit using marijuana if he is to live, but he just couldn’t do it.

And then, at the age of 31, my son hanged himself from a tree in Peoria, Arizona.  His suicide note the cause of his death.  “I want to die. My soul is dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.”

As I came to terms with Andy’s death and the note he left, I was confused. I’d always believe marijuana wasn’t addictive.  My research since has revealed I was far from the truth. Marijuana is highly addictive.  Almost one in three users of marijuana exhibit symptoms of substance use disorder. I learned later that my son had been diagnosed with severe cannabis use disorder.

Andy’s wallet contained his medical marijuana card and a dispensary loyalty card, indicating his numerous purchases and progress toward earning a free eighth of an ounce.   So I visited the manager at the store he frequented.  I wanted her to know my son’s story so she could prevent another death by recognizing someone in trouble with addiction. I asked her to watch for any healthy young person buying the limit of 2-1/2 ounces every 15 days, which could be a sign of dependence.

She told me marijuana is not addictive.  “Marijuana has never been related to a death,” she insisted.  I asked her to look at my sons suicide note. I asked her to look at his death certificate, one no parents want to see listing suicide as the cause of death. I offered her copies to share with her patients to help prevent another death.

She declined and asked me if there was another explanation for my son’s death, another drug in the coroner’s report.  No there were no other drugs.  She pointed out the décor in the dispensary: giant copies of checks to local non-profits, including a children’s hospital.  I suggested she consider donating to organizations that educate youth to prevent drug and alcohol use at the early ages susceptible to substance use disorders.  She said that wasban interesting idea.

I took note of other décor in the dispensary.  A sign in the receptionist’s window promoted products with 90 percent THC, the psychoactive element of pot.  In the 1970s, THC content was in the low single digits.

Then I left because I know a business is unlikely to help prevent use of its product by people who will be its best customer in the future.  I left because I am sickened by an industry that refuses to acknowledge the known risks of its products.   I left because this woman made it clear she will continue to sell her product without feeling responsible for customers exhibiting signs of abuse.

I left because my desire to save a life like my son’s is wasted on anyone in this industry.  Marijuana is much like the tobacco industry of the past, which refused to acknowledge known risks in its product.

Editor’s note – Since the tobacco industry is required to post health warnings, the  marijuana industry should be required to use warning labels, also.   A long-term study of from Yale showed that marijuana makes PTSD  worse, and no health organization validates marijuana as a treatment for PTSD. 

Here’s an article about alternative treatments for PTSD and pain.


Help Save My Son — for Himself and Others

My son suffers from schizophrenia and marijuana addiction. He has become severely depressed and psychotic smoking marijuana, and talks of ending his life. He has been hospitalized 6 times since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.  He was not hospitalized the year before the legalization of marijuana.

How could Colorado legalize marijuana without any consideration for the mental heath community?  Amendment 64 is a travesty. I need help. I am so afraid for my son who just leaves his home and is in a state of confusion. He gets so paranoid and believes everyone is out to kill him. It has only been two weeks since his last hospital stay, in which he refused substance abuse treatment.  He wants to drive high while being psychotic and talking to his voices.

He is a veteran and receives his treatment through the Veterans Administration. He has a case manager and I have been trying to have his psych doctor sign a paper from the department of motor vehicles that would pull his license to drive. I don’t want him to kill himself or someone else. He has already had several accidents and now has a careless driving ticket. The police have even told me not to let him drive, but how can I do that when he is actively psychotic?

My neighbors wrote a letter for the doctor who’s had this paperwork from the DMV for two months and still refuses to sign the papers. My son almost hit our neighbor’s car head on. as he was driving down the wrong side of the road, and he almost backed into them.   Does he have to kill himself or someone before this doctor will take any action?  He keeps telling me the VA has to call their legal team.   They don’t make the call, and its so frustrating.

He won’t listen to his doctor’s advice or to anyone. Every day is so very challenging and stressful, and it has been very devastating to my family.   (The author lives in Adams County, Colorado)