Thursday, February 17, 2011

Underground In Las Vegas

There are people living in the flood tunnel system under Las Vegas.

Further into the maze are Amy and Junior who married in the Shalimar Chapel – one of Vegas’s most popular venues - before returning to the tunnels for their honeymoon.

They lost their home when they became addicted to drugs after the death of their son Brady at four months old.

‘I heard Las Vegas was a good place for jobs,’ Amy said. ‘But it was tough and we started living under the staircase outside the MGM casino.

‘Then we met a guy who lived in the tunnels. We’ve been down here ever since.’

Matthew O’Brien, a reporter who stumbled across the tunnel people when he was researching a murder case, has set up The Shine A Light foundation to help.

‘These are normal people of all ages who’ve lost their way, generally after a traumatic event,’ he said.

‘Many are war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
It is really shameful the way we treat people with personal problems in the US. If they take drugs for relief we hound them into jail if we can find them. But that is not the only problem.

PTSD treatment for returned soldiers is haphazard at best.
In his last months alive, Senior Airman Anthony Mena rarely left home without a backpack filled with medications.

He returned from his second deployment to Iraq complaining of back pain, insomnia, anxiety and nightmares. Doctors diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and prescribed powerful cocktails of psychiatric drugs and narcotics.

Yet his pain only deepened, as did his depression. “I have almost given up hope,” he told a doctor in 2008, medical records show. “I should have died in Iraq.”

Airman Mena died instead in his Albuquerque apartment, on July 21, 2009, five months after leaving the Air Force on a medical discharge. A toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood, including three antidepressants, a sedative, a sleeping pill and two potent painkillers.

Yet his death was no suicide, the medical examiner concluded. What killed Airman Mena was not an overdose of any one drug, but the interaction of many. He was 23.
It breaks my heart to see this. But that is not the only such story.
...the military came under criticism a decade ago for not prescribing enough medications, particularly for pain. In its willingness to prescribe more readily, the Pentagon was trying to meet standards similar to civilian medicine, General Chiarelli said.

But the response of modern psychiatry to modern warfare has not always been perfect. Psychiatrists still do not have good medications for the social withdrawal, nightmares and irritability that often accompany post-traumatic stress, so they mix and match drugs, trying to relieve symptoms.

“These decisions about medication are difficult enough in civilian psychiatry, but unfortunately in this very-high-stress population, there is almost no data to guide you,” said Dr. Ranga R. Krishnan, a psychiatrist at Duke University. “The psychiatrist is trying everything and to some extent is flying blind."
They are all flying blind - civilian and military doctors alike.

Worse - our government actively hampers the use of one of the safest drugs known to man for relief of PTSD symptoms. I have written about it at length. Here are some of the articles:

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

The Soldiers Disease

Is Addiction Real?

Police and PTSD

PTSD Pot Alcohol & Substance Abuse

PTSD is not just a problem for combat vets: Heroin.

And where opiate use is necessary marijuana can reduce the required dose.
Medical marijuana can help pain patients in many ways. Using cannabis as an adjunct medicine can help opiate pain meds work better. Medical marijuana can successfully treat pain and help lower the overall dose of narcotics, something that is healthy for the patient.
It would be very useful if military doctors could use marijuana to reduce the required opiate dose. Unfortunately military doctors are not allowed to have anything to do with medical marijuana. There are Federal Laws against pot dontcha know.

I would love it if the Government wised up about all this. But first the people are going to have to demand it. We are not quite there yet. And that is very sad.

Here are a few books on the subject:

Marijuana Medical Handbook: Practical Guide to Therapeutic Uses of Marijuana

Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible

Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence

Medical Marijuana 101: Everything They Told You Is Wrong

Cross Posted at Classical Values