The Relationship Between ADHD and Marijuana

The Relationship Between ADHD and Marijuana

The notion that Marijuana helps in the management of ADHD has gained credence in the recent past. Research on cannabis concerning this disorder continues, and the body of knowledge concerning its effectiveness in adults, teenagers, and children continues to increase. For a patient’s quality of life to be improved, it is imperative for all options, including medical marijuana and conventional drugs, to be explored as a way of restoring their mental health. The effects of the interaction between marijuana and ADHD medication is another area of interest for researchers.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It is usually categorized as a children’s mental illness, but it also affects teenagers. In some instances, ADHD persists into the patient’s adulthood. The reason why it is referred to as a children’s ailment is that, under normal circumstances, symptoms are noticed when a child who has it joins school. About 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have this condition. It is usually more prevalent in males than in females.

Symptoms

All children have short attention spans, but children with ADHD have it more difficult. The following are the categories of symptoms found in children with ADHD. For a conclusion to be drawn that a child has ADHD, they must display symptoms in at least two of the three categories below. 

  • Being Impulsive

This symptom mostly manifests in a child’s apparent insensitivity to their environment. Impulsivity makes the child with ADHD act without thinking. These children interrupt proceeding in the class by suddenly running off to someplace at an inappropriate time. They may grab other kids or their property or suddenly shout when they should be silent. 

The children may also do things without asking for permission. Impulsiveness may manifest as recklessness because even in dangerous situations, ADHD children don’t take the time to consider the consequences of their actions. Impulsiveness is the main reason why kids with ADHD may be adjudged unruly and undisciplined. 

  • Being Inattentive

ADHD children usually have more significant challenges focusing their attention than an ordinary child would have. They are easily distracted and have difficulties listening and following instructions. These symptoms reflect on their school work because they miss critical instructions in tests and assignments.

Another way this deficit in attention manifests is in the fact that people who have ADHD have difficulties finishing what they start. Their lack of focus is apparent in their absent-mindedness, forgetfulness, and the fact that they easily lose their property as they can’t keep focused enough to track it.  

  • Hyperactivity

This is seen when kids make careless mistakes as they rush through activities such as their homework or chores at home. Hyperactivity makes the kids inadvertently disruptive to others. ADHD kids climb, jump, or engage in other rough games when they shouldn’t. They are mostly not in control of their actions. 

How a Diagnosis is reached

It is not always easy for a parent to conclude that their child has ADHD. The difficulty in diagnosis is primarily because all children exhibit the same characteristics as ADHD to some level. A decision has to be made on whether it is merely a case of a child lacking training in the normal process of growth, or the child has ADHD. 

To reach a diagnosis, a doctor will ask the child’s parents to fill a checklist to establish the symptoms. The doctor confirms the diagnosis when the child’s symptoms have the following characteristics.

  • The child’s hyperactivity and lack of attention cuts across all of the child’s life. It affects them equally at home and as it does at school
  • The behavior about which the parent is concerned, be it being impulsive, inattentive, or hyperactive, has been with the child since they were young. If it began when the child went to school, it might be attributed to the change of environment
  • The child’s symptoms go beyond what other children their age have
  • The doctors have concluded that a child doesn’t have other medical conditions, other than ADHD, that cause the symptoms for which they are being examined

The ordinary treatment regimen for ADHD include medicine. Ordinarily, the kind of drugs used for the management of ADHD is Central Nervous System depressants. The drugs help the patient calm down and gain more control of themselves and thus pay attention. 

Behavior therapy also comes in handy in the management of ADHD. Therapists endeavor to help these children develop the social, emotional, and attention skills that are underdeveloped due to ADHD.

Effects of ADHD are mostly experienced at home in the course of the day to day activities. It is for this reason that therapists may include parents training as part of their treatment program. They impart parents with skills on how to respond to their children’s behavioral difficulties in a manner that moves the children towards getting better control of their actions. 

Teachers also play a critical role in ensuring these children get to enjoy their stay at school while at the same time helping them to gain control of their impulses.  

Can Marijuana Help with ADHD?

There have been few and far between clinical trials on the effectiveness of marijuana in the treatment of ADHD. However, some studies have indicated that the endocannabinoid system contributes to ADHD.

According to Kaiser, ADHD and medical marijuana can only be understood by figuring out the involvement of the endocannabinoid system. The ECS is the organ system to which marijuana connects when it gets into the body, and it is the only gateway through which weed can influence the body. 

Marijuana has two primary cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid, and it has adverse effects on the user’s cognition. This being the case, if a person with ADHD introduced significant amounts of THC into their body, the most likely impact would be deterioration of the condition.

While the available information points towards worse cases of ADHD from marijuana, some people with ADHD claim to experience a reduction of symptoms when they use weed. One study on cannabis and ADHD in adults was conducted in Norway. In that study, participants seemed to prefer marijuana for effectiveness and because it doesn’t have the harmful effects of ADHD medication. 

Research on marijuana effects on ADHD and other conditions has been hampered in many jurisdictions due to its illegal status. As pot gets acceptance more, further studies continue to be conducted. Despite the constrained research efforts, we would suggest that the best medical marijuana strains for ADD and ADHD are the ones with low THC content.

Compared to THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is an entirely different type of cannabinoid. It is not psychoactive, and it appears to have a calming effect on the brain and the central nervous system as a whole.  

Over and above being non-psychoactive, CBD also has antipsychotic and anti-anxiety properties that help with ADHD and other neurological conditions. CBD is legal throughout the United States, and you can find it packaged as CBD oil, gummies, or capsules

Paradoxically, marijuana could help with ADHD because there is a possible link between pregnancy, marijuana, and ADHD. Some studies suggest that prenatal smoke exposure could lead to ADHD. 

Is Medical Marijuana Available for ADHD?

There are many highly purified CBD oils in the market that can be used for the management of ADHD. Because the marijuana industry remains mostly unregulated, it is imperative for you to carefully vet the product you want to buy for its potency and safety. 

The easiest way to achieve this is to go for recognized brands whose products have been tested by reputable independent third parties. If you are in the United States, ensure that the THC content of the CBD products you buy is below 0.3% since that is the legal limit. 

You can boost the possibility of getting a safe product by only going for products extracted from organic hemp. 

Can Marijuana Be Used to Treat Children with ADHD?

It is an acknowledged fact that THC has adverse effects on the brain. The results are especially severe if the user’s brain is still growing. It is, therefore, inconceivable that anyone should consider THC therapeutic in a child.

CBD, on the other hand, has no long term effects on the children, and an appropriate dosage can be determined with the input of a clinician.

Determination of the dosage involves taking CBD in increasing amounts until the level where marijuana suppresses the child’s ADHD to the lowest possible levels while at the same time managing to keep any possible side effects at the lowest possible level. Doctor’s advice should be sought on whether marijuana and ADHD treatment should be used together. 

There are no legal constraints on the use of CBD for the treatment of children for ADHD or any other condition for that matter. 

Risks

People with ADHD are more likely to develop substance abuse disorders than those without ADHD. It’s, therefore, critical to ensure that whatever marijuana product a child uses is entirely free of THC, which is both addictive and psychoactive.  

Besides addiction, a child who uses the whole marijuana leaf is likely to experience psychosis, anxiety, and depression. Anxiety would only serve to increase the patient’s symptoms as opposed to reducing them.  

Children who get exposed to weed early are likely to have their IQ drop in their adulthood. Marijuana, particularly THC, also lead to memory loss. The risks are much lower when a person uses CBD, but they are not non-existent. CBD is much kinder to the brain and the rest of the body. Even when using CBD, the interaction between marijuana and ADHD medicines should be considered.

Dwight K. Blake Written by: Dwight K. Blake

Dwight was a Mental Health counselor at Long Island Psychotherapy & Counseling in Westbury, New York for more than 15 years. He believes that CBD is the prime solution to this mental illness and more-- with proper research, medical acknowledgment, and application.
Through his work at AmericanMarijuana, together with the rest of the team, he wishes to provide everyone with genuine results and high-quality product reviews for everyone to enjoy for free.

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