ADHD and Cannabis: Weed for Those with ADHD
7 Jul 2022
Did you know that an increasing number of adults are using cannabis to help manage mental health? According to the latest stats from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 7 million Americans use medical cannabis on a regular basis. A staggering 19% of users in the 18-29 age group identify as having some sort of attention deficit disorder. If you have either of these conditions, you may have been told by friends or family members that weed is not advisable for your specific condition. However, there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. We’ll cover all you need to know about whether or not cannabis is good for those who suffer from ADHD.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that describes individuals who have a hard time paying attention, focusing, and staying on track with their daily tasks. This can cause problems in school, at work, and in relationships for those with the condition. We do not have a single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication, and school support. There are three main types of ADD:
- Inattentive types of ADD have trouble paying attention to tasks, are disorganized, and forgetful.
- Hyperactive types are restless, impulsive, and likely to interrupt conversations.
- Combined types demonstrate features of both inattentive and hyperactive types.
ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders, with 9% of children aged 5-17 years meeting the criteria for diagnosis. The prevalence of the disorder in adults is about half that of children, with about 3% in the population meeting the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
Why might people with ADHD use weed?
There are many reasons why people with ADD or ADHD might use cannabis. The most common reason people use weed is that it helps with attention and focus. People with ADD or ADHD may have problems in school, at work, or in their personal relationships. Many times, they are told that they are “daydreaming” or “not paying attention”. ADD or ADHD can cause you to feel unmotivated and frustrated because you have trouble accomplishing tasks. It can be hard to focus on work or school projects, to stay organized, or to remember daily tasks such as paying bills. People with ADD or ADHD may try marijuana because they want to improve their ability to focus and pay attention.
Is Cannabis an Effective Treatment for ADHD?
Anecdotally, many people report that smoking cannabis use helps them focus, stay present and manage their emotions. Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of scientific research to back up those claims. Single-person case studies are helpful but are not great for determining the effectiveness of something. In other words, how can we know that the person’s ADHD symptoms were actually improved by cannabis, and not something else? Researchers have conducted a few studies on the use of cannabinoids (the chemicals in cannabis) and ADHD. We have no good evidence to show that cannabis works in the same way as ADHD medications, but the results are promising. The most common cannabinoids that are researched and recommended for those with ADHD are cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
How Does Weed Help those with ADHD / ADD?
Research on the effects of cannabis on ADD or ADHD patients is still ongoing. However, we do know that use of cannabis can help to increase focus, lower anxiety, and improve attention span. THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, is responsible for these effects. For example, ADD or ADHD patients may be more likely to get distracted by their own thoughts, their emotions, or what they see happening around them. Cannabis use can help block out these distractions and allow the individual to focus on their task at hand. Marijuana can help to lower anxiety disorders and improve mood. Those with ADD or ADHD may find themselves feeling more anxious and frustrated when dealing with their disorder. People use the dried leaves, seed oil, and other parts of the cannabis plant for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Is Cannabis Oil Good for Those with ADHD or ADD?
CBD oil is one of the most commonly used products for those with ADD or ADHD. CBD oil is a non-intoxicating, non-psychoactive component of hemp and cannabis. Although more research is needed, studies have shown that CBD oil can have positive effects on those with ADD or ADHD. For example, CBD oil can help to improve attention span and reduce symptoms of anxiety that often accompany these disorders. Some individuals with ADD or ADHD also experience problems with regulating their emotions. This can make it harder to control anger and aggression. Evidence suggests CBD oil may also help to reduce aggressive and impulsive tendencies. Few people may consume cannabis for medicinal purposes, such as chronic pain management, and multiple sclerosis.
Overall, it is important to remember that cannabis is a plant that has uses as a recreational and medicinal drug. This means that it alters our cognition, emotions and behavior. Cannabis smoking is not a one-size-fits-all medication and it is important to find what works best for you. Many cannabis users swear by medical marijuana for managing their ADHD symptoms. You may also have friends who warn you against consuming cannabis because it will negatively affect your ability to function. Do what feels right for your body and your situation. Be sure to approach cannabis as you would any other medication, and be knowledgeable about the potential side effects and benefits.