According to the Israel Medical Association (IMA), approximately nine percent of Israelis suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That number increases dramatically when we’re talking about at-risk populations.
Who is considered an at-risk population? The most classic example is combat soldiers. But surprisingly, it’s not just combat soldiers who’ve seen too much blood and gory who are at risk. A recent report by Haaretz revealed some eye-opening figures about the causes of PTSD; reasons included firing at the enemy, being involved in arrests or house searches, having rocks thrown at you, and other “lesser” traumas.
Often, a simple day-to-day occurrence can deepen the effect of the trauma. A car alarm, for example, can evoke a traumatic experience.
While all this talk about PTSD might be helpful in drawing attention to the problem for soldiers and residents – not just in the Gaza Strip but all across the country where sirens were heard – an unfortunate side effect is that people are looking for quick, easy solutions to this widespread problem.
At first glance, marijuana seems like just the solution. “Everyone knows” that marijuana is harmless, and state after state in the US has legalized its use. But the recent research conducted at Haifa University’s Department of Psychology claiming that marijuana is “harmless” is based not on human clinical trials, but on rats. In other words, the findings are theoretical, and study after study refutes this claim. Other research consistently reveals that high doses of marijuana can produce acute psychotic reactions, lower IQ in teenagers, and it may also increase the risk of schizophrenia. Furthermore, the younger a person is when he starts the more likely he is to develop an addiction to marijuana or other drugs at some point in life. What’s even more frightening is that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) says that the drug has become twice as potent as it was since 1983 (while drug czar John Walters claims that it has become up to 30 times stronger).
This research is not quoted in the pro-legalization blogs, nor does it appear on many veterans’ support groups. In fact, even seemingly scientific articles are laced with pro-drug bias and conclude with heart-rendering appeals to support the veterans who “made sacrifices” and whose well-being is at stake. They urge us to “heed the wake-up call” to legalize cannabis. To them, headlines such as yesterday’s “Police Find 3.5 Tons of Marijuana North of Tel Aviv” are not a cause for alarm, but a cry of victory.
PTSD is a very real syndrome affecting thousands upon thousands of people – veterans, civilians, children… And these people need help. Serious attention must be paid to this plague now, before the trauma of Operation Protective Edge digs its claws even deeper into Israeli society.
With the double-edged sword of war-induced trauma in Israel and the push from pro-drug activists to make marijuana use a perfectly acceptable alternative, it is now more crucial than ever to provide at-risk populations with the tools to deal with their trauma without resorting to drugs.Please share this post!