Roberto Pickering’s story is all too familiar.
The infantry Marine says he fought during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, lost some “good buddies” and returned to civilian life a “basket case” from battling a new enemy: post-traumatic stress disorder.
Pickering says he was pumped full of medications — from Valium to Zoloft, OxyContin, Seroquel, Lithium, Ambien and more — by Department of Veterans Affairs doctors. He tried to go back to school but had trouble adjusting.
He recoiled further after one friend took his own life and another died of a heroin overdose after becoming dependent on opioids through his medical care. Pickering moved into his parents’ California basement and found solace in the bottle while his life spiraled out of control.
Unlike thousands of post-9/11 veterans who have committed suicide, Pickering then found another way to cope: He began experimenting with marijuana about 10 years ago.
“This war doesn’t end when you come back,” he said. Cannabis “really improved my quality of life … I found what works for me.”