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Although medical marijuana is still considered controversial in some circles, there’s growing consensus it’s a great treatment for a wide variety of ailments. Chronic pain sufferers are turning to it instead of dangerous and addictive opioid drugs, while cancer patients are using it to mitigate the ill effects of harsh cancer treatments. 

One group of people embracing medical marijuana may surprise you. First responders are adopting this effective treatment en masse. Here’s why.

Job Strain and Trauma

No one will deny first responders have a difficult job. While long shifts, understaffing, and shift rotation are all common enough in many jobs, they present additional strains for first responders. 

On top of these “usual” workplace issues, however, first responders are exposed to a wide variety of traumatic and stressful situations. They’re often the first people at the scene of a fatal car accident. They may need to respond to victims of traumatic tragedies, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. 

With this comes the stress of being the first responder. In some cases, people’s lives or the lives of their loved ones will hang in the balance. Whether the person lives or dies could depend on how fast and effective the first responder is. Emergencies are naturally stressful situations.

An At-Risk Population

Few people are exposed to trauma and stress the same way first responders are. Until recently, however, there was little discussion about the tolls the job takes on these professionals. Research shows first responders are more likely to suffer anxiety and depression. They’re at a higher risk of developing these mental health issues. 

Their jobs also put them at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even when first responders don’t have official diagnoses of anxiety, they may exhibit generalized anxiety, such as an inability to calm down or insomnia. They could also exhibit depressive symptoms, even if they’re not diagnosed with depression.

Managing Mental Health

As it becomes less taboo to discuss mental health, more people are pointing to the risk factors affecting first responders and calling for better protections for these everyday heroes. Since the risks are clear, employers, medical professionals, and first responders themselves should take steps to manage existing mental health issues and prevent new ones from developing.

One way first responders can manage existing mental health issues is through the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug, meaning it acts on the central nervous system and the brain. For most people, it results in a sense of ease and relaxation.

For first responders who are having trouble coping with stress, relaxation is just what the doctor ordered! Anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia plague many first responders. They may find it easier to relax with the aid of medical marijuana.

The same effects also help in the case of PTSD. Those relaxing effects ease anxiety and can improve sleep, lessening symptoms and improving the ability to cope. This can also ease depressive symptoms.

Preventative Measures

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Almost nothing could be truer when it comes to medical marijuana for first responders. Since the risk factors associated with the job are so clear, it only makes sense first responders should protect themselves and their mental health.

Medical marijuana can help prevent the onset of mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, and even PTSD. Combined with other preventative measures, including a good support group and proper counselling for those who do encounter stressful and traumatic situations, first responders can take concrete steps to protecting themselves.

A Clear Choice

With all these facts in mind, it’s easy to see why first responders would be interested in medical marijuana.

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Marisa Cornacchia

Marisa Cornacchia

Marisa is a registered nurse with over two decades of experience in both critical care and occupational health nursing. She is also an osteopathic manual practitioner. Marisa also holds an MBA with a concentration in Project Management and a Certification in Risk Management from the University of Toronto. Marisa specializes in designing financially viable clinical programs and services and contributes significantly to sustainability and long-term growth. Her scope of understanding of the employer group is an integral piece that allows Aleafia to dominate the market sector.