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Letter: Marijuana not the solution to stop PST

These are medical marijuana clone plants on Feb.

These are medical marijuana clone plants on Feb. 1, 2011 at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo Credit: AP / Jeff Chiu


I’m writing to respond to “Pot enters PTSD talks” [News, March 23]. Post-traumatic stress disorder is treatable to the point of eliminating all symptoms without drugs or medication.

In mental health, the medical community has been trained to treat symptoms. This is not the case for physical medicine. If I appear in an emergency room with chest pains, I am not given instructions to take a painkiller and sent on my way. The question being asked is, why am I having chest pain?

Yet, if someone visits a medical professional complaining of anxiety — as in PTSD — he or she is given a prescription to treat the symptom. The anxiety will be less, but will not go away until the cause is treated. Medicating symptoms can be helpful but should not be mistaken for treatment.

Our brains have evolved to handle trauma to ensure our continued survival, so the brain changes when faced with a perceived threat combined with helplessness. The memory of that event becomes fixed and stored, and it cannot be deleted. Embedded in those memories are beliefs that seem to make sense at the time, but light up later when these memories are triggered. If we can desensitize the distress associated with the memory, PTSD will end.

Examples of treatments that don’t involve medication include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, hypnotherapy, sensorimotor therapy and somatic experiencing.

Herb Cohen


Editor’s note: The writer is the co-chairman of the Long Island EMDR Regional Network.