Marijuana and ADHD is a highly controversial topic, especially as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is more common in children and teens. As a matter of fact, it is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Recent surveys show that roughly 11% of children 4-17 years old have been diagnosed with ADHD and 4-5% of U.S. adults have it.
What is ADHD and How Does Marijuana Help?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) is a condition that tends to appear in children. It is usually discovered during the early school years when a child has problems paying attention at school or during specific activities. ADHD can follow you through to your adulthood and prevent you from running a normal structured life. For example, you might experience problems managing time, being organized or even holding down a job that requires attention. In adults, it has been known to lead to a number of problems including; mood swings, depression, anxiety and relationship problems.
Children that are diagnosed with ADHD will often show signs of hyperactivity and inattention. For example, having problems sitting still, playing quietly, fidgeting or being extremely impulsive. Inattention examples include; being easily distracted, having problems organizing daily tasks and tendency to daydream.
Research has found that the brains of people with ADHD are smaller in certain areas. Especially in the frontal lobe, affecting impulse control, concentration, and inhibition. Brain development in those who have ADHD is also different. The neuro-pathways don’t connect and mature at the same rate making it harder to pay attention and focus. ADHD can also affect people’s brain chemistry. Those with ADHD have been known to have problems processing dopamine a chemical connected to movement, sleep, and learning.
Did you know?
Not all kids with ADHD continue to have it as they grow up, but if you have it as an adult, you must have had it as a child, even if you are not aware of it.
What Causes ADHD?
ADHD is one of those medical conditions that researchers can’t pinpoint the exact cause. It was once thought that ADHD was directly connected to sugar intake or due to watching too much TV, but that is incorrect and as of today there is no scientific proof that backs up those theories. With that being said, there is more of an understanding of the condition, compared to previous years. Recent research suggests that ADHD can be caused by;
- Heredity – ADHD tends to get passed down within families. Studies show up to 60% of adults with ADHD will pass it on to their kids.
- Brain Changes/Injury – Areas of the brain that control attention is affected or injured.
- Abuse during pregnancy – Smoking, drinking and poor nutrition can cause ADHD in your new born. Children exposed to tobacco smoke prenatally are 2.4 times as likely to have ADHD.
Treatments for ADHD
ADHD treatments divide into two categories; Medications and Therapy.
When discussing pharmaceutical drugs to treat ADHD the list goes on. There are dozens of drugs on the market, some of which have been used since the 50s. They include;
- Adderall (amphetamine)
- Concerta (methylphenidate)
- Daytrana (methylphenidate patch)
- Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
- DextroStat (dextroamphetamine)
- Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
- Metadate (methylphenidate)
- Methylin (methylphenidate)
- Ritalin (methylphenidate)
- Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate)
Stimulants have a calming effect on children with ADHD and can last for 4-12 hours. Side effects of these medications include weight loss, sleep problems, irritability, and loss of appetite. If you are taking any medications for ADHD be sure to follow the instructions on the package or take them as prescribed by your doctor.
Children and adults have been known to benefit from some form of therapy. Therapy comes in all shapes and sizes and is normally recommended by your primary doctor according to the type of ADHD you are suffering from. The different forms of therapy include; behavior therapy, psychotherapy, family therapy and social skills training, which is intended for those who suffer from social skills, teaching them appropriate behaviors.
Marijuana and ADHD
Research on marijuana and ADHD is extremely premature, and in regards to children and medical cannabis, that is something that isn’t often discussed. On the one hand, patients are claiming that marijuana is helping them deal with their ADHD, without all the horrible side-effects of Pharma drugs such as headaches and sickness. On the other hand, it is currently thought that smoking marijuana below the age of 20 can have a serious effect on the development of your brain and it is therefore not recommended.
Why is Cannabis used as a Treatment?
As we mentioned above, those that have ADHD tend to have problems processing dopamine. The compounds found in cannabis, called cannabinoids, are thought to correct the dopamine deficiency if dosed correctly. THC increases dopamine concentrations and activates dopamine neurons. Furthermore, in its raw form, cannabis can provide the mental slowdown allowing people who have ADHD to focus and better concentrate more easily. This is done by balancing the dopamine in the brain.
Furthermore, cannabis is thought to help treat the side effects of ADHD stimulants, for example, reduce the stress associated with the condition, reduce nausea, stimulate appetite and improve sleep. Some doctors prescribe a combination of cannabis and stimulants. The drugs assist with the ADHD while the cannabis can assist with the side-effects of the drugs.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for ADHD
Sour Diesel is one of the world’s most popular cannabis strains. Walk into any dispensary, anywhere in the world and ask for Sour Diesel and they will know what you’re talking about. Known as Sour D, or Sour Deez this Sativa-dominant hybrid strain is loaded with 26% THC and 2% CBD. This marijuana strain is known for bringing on an uplifting creative high and is perfect for treating a wide range of medical conditions such as anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue. The key with this cannabis strain is dosing. Get it right, and it will help you stay focused and get things done.
Just the sound of those two words “Green Crack” will make you shiver. And so it should. This notorious strain got its name from Snoop Dogg and is known for being highly addictive. THC can reach as high as 24%, and this powerhouse can provide a boost of energy to help you get things done. It is known for helping people with a variety of problems including ADHD, PTSD and works wonders for migraines.
Blue Dream actually does the exact opposite that what its name refers to. Instead of getting you couch-locked in dreamland, this cannabis strain is known for giving a jolt of energy that leaves you completely focused and motivated. It is a great cannabis strain to help deal with the side effects of ADHD medications and can help with chronic pain.
This fairly unknown marijuana strain has gained popularity over the last couple of years due to its calming effect. This strain isn’t a “booster” strain and won’t zap you with a jolt of energy, but either calm down your brown so that you can focus on simple tasks. True OG is an Indica dominant strain that is known for combating stress and distractions.
Gorilla Glue #4
This is the last cannabis strain on our list and has won several awards due to its beautiful frosty flowers and its potent effects. Similar to all the strains above Gorilla Glue #4 has medical benefits that behave like an amphetamine to help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. GG#4 was accidentally creative by Josey Whales but soon turned into a sensation helping to treat a variety of medical conditions including; OCD, chronic pain, and arthritis.
Final Thoughts about Marijuana and ADHD
As we’ve stated several times throughout this article, marijuana and ADHD is a highly delicate topic, and those who are thinking about using medical cannabis as a form of treatment should consult with a medical doctor before usage. The key is dosing. Get it right, and it will help with your condition. Get it wrong, and it could worsen the situation. Medical marijuana will not work for everyone, but if it does, it can definitely relieve some of the discomforts associated with this disorder.
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