Chronic Anxiety? No Worries

How one local man turned his crippling anxiety around with medicinal cannabis

What would you do if the only medicine that seemed to help your mental health condition was illegal? Would you try to source it anyway and risk running afoul of the law? Or would you suffer each day without the only medicine that makes you feel like yourself? That was the exact dilemma that once faced Matt*, a chronic anxiety sufferer from Logan.

Like many people, Matt didn’t like the side effects that came with anti-anxiety medications. Having long suffered with the chronic mental health condition, he had learned of the positive impacts medicinal marijuana had on patients overseas, however there was no legal option open to him in Australia. That’s why, until recently, he had been resorting to sourcing cannabis from the black market.

“I was just out and about getting it off the streets,” he reveals, “On the street you get what you’re given. You don’t know whether it’s good or bad. I just recently had a stroke and I wanted to make sure I was getting healthy stuff not just random stuff – whatever someone wanted to give me.”

There are hundreds of chemicals known as cannabinoids within the marijuana plant. Different cannabinoids have been found to be effective in treating different conditions, with studies into these continuing to date. There is difference in the medicinal grade product and the marijuana that’s sold illegally. The major one is the illegal drug is often eaten or smoked for the purposes of getting high and the person selling it rarely knows the exact chemical make-up of the product at hand. Medicinal users seeking relief for chronic physical or mental health issues have no way of knowing if the product obtained off the streets contains the right cannabinoids for them.

Australia’s stance on medicinal cannabis has changed in the last few years, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) allowing a limited number of qualified doctors to start prescribing it. One such Doctor is Dr. Guy Wright, who started working with patients at Pharmaceutical Rehabilitation Services (PRS) in Beenleigh earlier this year. As soon as Matt found out about the service, he was quick to seek legal access to the right medicine for his condition.

“It was very easy (to get a prescription),” he reveals, “Easier than I thought it would be. I thought it would be a struggle.”

TGA approved prescribing physicians such as Dr. Wright from PRS are aware of which products are most effective for each condition. So, for Matt, it’s a great relief to know the product he is getting now is what’s best for his mental health. Add to that, the illegality of what he was doing before and the risk of being caught by police was compounding his chronic anxiety.

“Now I can go to bed at night and not be a criminal,” Matt says, “I don’t have to stress. I don’t have to worry about anything.”

Matt uses a small amount of the medicinal flowers in a vaporiser each morning and night to manage his condition.

Another added benefit, he says, is, “I’ve cut down on what I use. I used to smoke a lot more, but this stuff is a lot better quality, so I end up using a lot less.”

These days, Matt feels calmer, healthier, and a lot more stable. He’s managing his mental health, he’s in control, and even feeling more motivated.

“I didn’t have any ‘get up and go’ or any energy,” he confesses, “But now I feel like I can really give life a go.” 

* Name has been changed for patient confidentiality purposes.

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