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The Damaging Effects of Cannabis on the ADHD Brain

Cannabis use has grown in popularity among people with ADHD, some of whom report that marijuana helps them manage symptoms of anxiety, rejection sensitive dysphoria, and poor sleep without a prescription medication. What many teens and adults do not realize is that cannabis consumption is associated with dangerous risks — like cannabis use disorder — that disproportionately affect ADHD brains.

12 Comments: The Damaging Effects of Cannabis on the ADHD Brain

  1. I would really like to learn more about this topic. Please keep us informed. It’s really hard to know who to trust on this topic due to Corporate interests (pharma) and political greed (tax revenue), among other biased influencers. And, sorry…I don’t really trust any 20 somethings that self report how ‘great’ it works either. Lets see how these people are faring 40 years from now. We need longitudinal & double blind studies. Cannabis today is much different than 20 years ago.
    Thanks for keeping this topic in the forefront. It’s important.

  2. Did BIG PHARMA sponsor this? Such much fear mongering. My doctor already recommended the use of cannabis for the treatment of anxiety and ADHD years ago. The author here has a Ph.D, not a Pharm-D or an M.D. degree. So, I’m going to go with the professional opinion of someone who is certified by the board of medicine to give me recommendations. My wife is also a doctor, and she agrees with my physician on this. Gotta love Ph.D’s that pretend they have the background, education, and experience to make medical recommendations. Go to med school, graduate, and then come talk to us.

  3. It seems like this article is focused on smoking pot vs. medical mj? Would have been nice to hear thoughts about CBD and TCH products (ie products like Matter and Curaleaf).

  4. I definitely agree with the below comments discussing the biased research studies, “parent tips”, and stigma this article creates. And any sort of “abstinence only” treatment has been proven to be ineffective long term, as it causes more intense relapses and binge spikes.

    I question the validity of these studies, as cannabis use studies have been significantly limited due to government regulations on where and why someone is able to do a cannabis study.

    ALL substances have the potential for harm in excess (even food and water!!!), but as humans, treating any substances as if it’s “off limits” is not going to help decrease the desire, but will increase the desire and decrease moderate and appropriate usage. This article is full of biased data and language, and is very reminiscent of abstinence-only sex education – which has been proven to be ineffective at regulating unprotected sex in those under a certain age.

    Please disregard this article until there is a less biased article discussing the benefits and harms and more studies on more appropriate treatments.

  5. What a nonsense. I dont only have adhd but also fms, spd, eds, sjogrens, pelvic disability, graves disease, severe depression and ptsd and autism. I use thc oil or cbn against pain, and other stuff. Smoking cannabis is not done. Most people i know who dont use oil, vape. Tobacco kills and is more addictive. My dog with cancer is on pure cbd paste and i rub her tumor with weed creme. Your article is so off. Its 2021, read up on stuff.

  6. I agree with some that this is a bit of fear mongering. HOWEVER, as a 56 yo male that used Cannabis on and off over the years since I was 16 I have noticed I perform much better without it. Yes it helps with some of the symptoms or “co-symptoms” of ADHD such as anxiety (social or otherwise) and lessens RSD (understandably), it exasperates others. My therapist has implored me to stop. I would have 1-2 hits of my oil vape daily for the past 2 years (mostly to deal with my marital issues not related to my ADHD?). I have since stopped completely and have been “clean” for the past 30 days. I can absolutely feel and see the difference in my work performance and overall executive functioning skills. Denial can be powerful and the desire to alleviate some of the effects while getting a serotonin boost are appealing…I would suggest you try stopping for 30 days and see how your ADHD symptoms are impacted.

  7. This is fear-mongering clickbait.

    Marijuana has been instrumental in helping those with mental illness- depression, and anxiety to name two that are often associated with ADHD. There are multiple tools and ways for one to ingest cannabis, yet smoking is the single method mentioned here.

    It seems the author of this article has preconceived notions on marijuana and marijuana use and all of their research was based on finding information that supported those beliefs.

    This is an outdated view. Alcohol and prescription drugs are far more addictive and dangerous than cannabis.

  8. “While parents are encouraged to have calm and thoughtful conversations with their teen, they should also set boundaries and consequences for substance use to remind their child that it is not acceptable.”

    To me, this quote almost completely destroys the validity of this article. How is it possible to have a thoughtful conversation with someone while holding a predetermined conclusion? As a regular cannabis user and teen with ADHD, I could always sense when my parents would discuss my behavior as if it was an open discussion, while clearly angling for a single outcome from it – and it would always lead to their frustration (instead of open-mindedness) when I brought up points that contradicted their pre-conceived view.

    This isn’t to say my cannabis use hasn’t caused me problems in the past, but rather that I believe the approaches and viewpoints to dealing with it shared in this article are flawed. The article defines a loose and open-to-interpretation definition of Cannabis Use Disorder, and then proceeds to imply all levels of use fall into this category. Imagine an article written about Alcohol that implied any regular use of it qualified you as an alcoholic! The truth is, cannabis, like alcohol, caffeine, adderall etc. can bring benefits in MODERATION. I self-medicate many of my ADHD symptoms with it, including as a motivating reward for completing work, as a dopamine boost to push myself to complete chores and, probably most beneficially, to provide mental relief from the stresses of day-to-day life a person with ADHD experiences. The risk/reward ratio has always been positive for me, which may be difficult for others to understand since the rewards of cannabis use are experienced personally.

    MY PROBLEM WITH THIS ARITCLES INTERPRETATION OF CUD: If you smoke enough weed to increase your tolerance to it, you are also violating taking cannabis in larger amounts over longer periods of time, meaning you fit enough of the criteria to have the disorder, even though you may be experiencing no actual ill effects! Nearly everyone I know has experienced varying levels of tolerance and therefore use with other substances (alcohol, caffeine), but very few of them have had actual problems with those substances. Also, there is no mention of tolerance breaks as an effective treatment for CUD, leading me to believe the article is biased by the incorrect view that Cannabis is inherently harmful, and no use of it should be tolerated.

  9. Wow really outdated and paranoid article. It’s shocking how NOT ONCE by anyone even in the comments mentioned the default assumption was that everyone using cannibinoids are smoking it? You ignorant dummies, the reason for those associations is that burning a substance and then inhaling that burning substance brings carcinogens directly into your body. Yes, there is lost cognitive function with abuse, mainly through dendritic loss and the COX2 signalling pathway but thats the case with may psychiatric meds anyway.

  10. I feel a lot of this article is fear-mongering click bait.

    I do think there are dangers of marijuana use, and sure, anything can be addictive. But I also think that there are a lot of positive outcomes as well. This article also seems to focus mostly on tweens, teens and young adults and consumption by smoking. There is no mention of microdosing, sublinguals, low dose tablets and topical uses. Nor does it talk about safety in moderation, use in conjunction with other types of help (ie: cognitive behavioral therapy).

  11. I’m tired of just about everyone acting like marijuana is harmless.

    Reading this article, I said yes to the following with regards to my fiance.
    Difficulty quitting cannabis use
    Strong desires or cravings to use cannabis
    Physical or psychological problems caused or exacerbated by cannabis use
    Tolerance to cannabis
    Withdrawal from cannabis

    He had a heart attack in early February, and they placed two stents. One artery was 90% blocked, the other was 100% blocked.
    The cardiologist stated he was not to return to smoking, as it could contribute to his heart condition. Everyone thinks he is smoking it because of his back pain, but that is only part of the picture. He is an addict of another substance, and I won’t get into it here. The cardiologist and his family seem to think that him using edibles will solve that issue. It would, if he was just treating the pain. I think he uses it to de-stress and he likes being high/stoned. I don’t like the way he acts when he is on it. He does not remember his behavior when he is high. I had a surgery last summer, and was told I needed a driver, because I would still be under the influence of anesthesia. My fiance drove me home, but while I was still in recovery, he decided to step out into the parking garage and smoke it in his car. When I smelled the stank on him, I was pissed.
    All I can do is hope things will get better. I love him, and he treats me well. I hope his smoking won’t lead to another heart attack. You would think the heart attack would scare him enough that he wouldn’t want to risk it, but given that he is an addict, the pull of the substance is greater.

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