Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that is commonly characterised by high level of energy and uninhibited manners and ways of speech. With ADHD, commonly people find it hard to focus their attention on a single task as well as sitting still for long hours of time. Traditional treatment for impulsive behaviour consists of behavioural therapy, such as talk therapy and taking prescribed medication, such as ritalin. For young children under six years, using behavioural therapy and going to psychologists are most common form of treatment as medication may have a harmful effect to a developing child. However, for adults, fast acting medication is more popular and effective.
Can cannabis assist ADHD patients?
70-80% of ADHD children have less symptoms when taking fast-acting stimulant medications. However, there are still 20-30% left unaffected by traditional treatment. We can help benefit ADHD patients where traditional stimulants fail to treat the condition by researching on the advantages and disadvantages of using marjiuana to treat patients.
Some people may be adversely affected by the side effects of traditional treatments. Using stimulants such as cocaine can however cause people to having myriad of negative effects on the brain. Since ADHD stimulants including dexamphetamine and Ritalin are more addictive than marijuana, and have more intense effects on the reward pathways of the brain.
Other potential side effects of medicinal cannabis as opposed to the most commonly prescribed Ritalin:
Effects of Stimulant Medication:
Effects of Medicinal Marijuana:
|Decreased appetite||Increased appetite|
|Sleeping problems||Assists sleep|
Although inattention is less of a concern with this type of ADHD, people with predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD may still find it difficult to focus on tasks. So, the contrasting side effects between the two drugs are quite large. Therefore making it easy to understand why different people may rather the low dose THC cannabis. In conclusion, stimulants cause sleeping problems and eating problems. However, THC mitigates these issues. As a result, ADHD patients could use stimulants to combat the ADHD and then use THC to combat the adverse effects of the stimulants.
What does science say about cannabis and ADHD?
THC, one of two major chemical compounds in cannabis and another one would be CBD, is said by medical professionals to act differently on the brain of ADHD individuals. People with the disorder have something known as an endocannabinoid deficiency causing restlessness, impulsivity and inattention. THC works by stimulating the endocannabinoid system. Ultimately slowing down neurotransmission, as opposed to being overwhelmed by a multitude of impulses caused by ADHD. Similarly to Adderall, another traditional ADHD treating medication. Therefore this suggests that cannabis can assist patients to sit still, addressing the hyperactive part of ADHD, which coincides with helping the attention deficit component.
What reactions do ADHD patients have to cannabis?
ADHD patients are more inclined to recreational use and addiction. Cannabis use Disorder (CUD) is a problematic pattern of marijuana usage and it can certainly be overused. Those with CUD take marijuana in larger amounts for longer periods than intended.
Those with ADHD increased their risk of CUD compared to the general population. People with ADHD in their youth were reported to be three times more likely to use cannabis in later life, and 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with CUD. Supported by a possible alteration in the reward pathways of those with ADHD. Due to the aforementioned lower dopamine levels in the brain, high dopamine stimulating activities such as smoking cannabis becomes more intensely craved.
In conclusion, little literature exists and more research for cannabis and ADHD treatment is necessary. Especially before we can determine whether or not it is effective. Doctors are prescribing medicinal marijuana to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder patients on a case to case basis, when traditional medication has failed to provide adequate relief.