Cannabis May Offer Relief For Adults With ADHD And Improve Quality Of Life: Study

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders in recent years, with an estimated global prevalence of 2.5% in adults and 5% in children. The condition causes trouble with maintaining attention, hyperactivity and impulse control.

While ADHD medications can be effective, they can also have side effects like anxiety, insomnia and decreased appetite. This has led some to explore alternative treatments, including cannabis.

A recent study suggests that cannabis may be a viable option for adults with ADHD, particularly for managing co-morbid conditions like anxiety and sleep problems, Samoon Ahmad, M.D. a clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU’s School of Medicine writes in Psychology Today. The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology Reports, involved 68 adults with ADHD, mostly men and current cannabis users.

“The symptoms for ADHD are not uniform across all patients, and there is a growing awareness that adults often have more subtle symptoms than children. In the past, ADHD was typically conceptualized as a disorder affecting adolescents and characterized by an inability to keep still or pay attention in class,” says Ahmad. “In more recent years, this conceptualization has evolved to include individuals of all ages who have difficulties managing time, staying on task, and controlling impulses.”

Key Points: ADHD symptoms vary and can be more subtle in adults than children.

  • Cannabis contains hundreds of compounds, including THC and CBD that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various functions, including emotion, sleep and memory
  • Participants reported improvements in anxiety, sleep quality and quality of life after using cannabis for one, three and six months
  • Ahmad, unit chief of Inpatient Psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital and founder of NYC’s Integrative Center for Wellness, pointed out that the study was small and did not utilize a control group, which is needed before drawing definitive conclusions. He also pointed out that the study did not involve children or adolescents and that cannabis should not be considered a first-line treatment for ADHD in this age group due to potential brain development risks

“Though the study does have multiple limitations, particularly its lack of controls, women, and standardization among samples of cannabis, it does indicate that cannabis-based medicines can help improve quality of life for patients with ADHD,” Ahmad said.

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