Cannabis and Alternative Therapies for ADHD: A Quick Reference

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
Oct 16, 2022
Last updated:
May 2, 2024

Approximately one in every 20 people in Australia has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. It's an increasingly common diagnosis, especially among younger boys.

But ADHD isn’t just a diagnosis among children. Many people find it is a lifelong condition that persists into adulthood. Therefore, many adults find themselves wondering about medical cannabis and ADHD.

What Is ADHD?

As noted by Health Direct, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition that renders people more hyperactive and less prone to concentrating on basic tasks than their non-afflicted counterparts.

While this kind of behaviour might seem off-putting, people with ADHD may not be capable of controlling their emotions, thoughts, and reactions to the stimuli around them.

This condition usually becomes apparent during childhood, but not always. It may be perceived as disruptive in the affected person’s everyday environments such as in the classroom, at home, or in more formal settings.

There are three kinds of ADHD diagnoses: hyperactive-impulsive (in which a person displays both qualities), inattentive (in which a person can’t stay focused on something), and combined (in which someone displays both characteristics).

Symptoms of ADHD

pink clouds with birds
Inattention and distraction are only two of the most common symptoms of ADHD, but there are many more

Each person with ADHD can present with a variety of symptoms, though they are highly dependent on someone’s unique physiology and biology.

Those who are inattentive may get distracted easily, lose items or make mistakes that seem simple to avoid. They may have memory issues, appear to be not listening to you, forget assignments or chores, miss appointments, daydream a lot, and show up late, among other signs.

Those with hyperactivity may appear to be talking too much, often interrupting or seeming like they’re running on autopilot without rest. They may act out of turn, move around excessively, chatter a lot, have difficulty sensing when it’s time for them to listen, and get up often to move around.

Some with ADHD may have a combination of symptoms depending on their specific diagnosis.

Causes of ADHD

The scientific community has a good grasp on what causes ADHD, though the full scope is not readily apparent. It’s believed that there are multiple contributors or risk factors that impact the biology of the brain. In a nutshell, ADHD can be the result of nature, nurture, or both.

Genetics can be a major factor in that parents with ADHD are more likely to have children with ADHD than their counterparts. Additionally, the brain’s physiology is a likely culprit of ADHD, including electrical activity and how the brain metabolises.

Conditions during gestation and early life can also increase the odds of an ADHD diagnosis. This includes substance use while a fetus is in utero, difficulty bonding with a parent in early life, and exposure to harmful chemicals like lead in paint.

It’s possible that trauma and brain injury can also make an ADHD diagnosis more likely, along with rest problems like sleep apnea.

Treatments for ADHD

Treatments for ADHD are not without controversy, especially when it comes to medication. This is why some are looking into medical cannabis and ADHD.

Some of the most common ADHD pharmaceutical prescriptions are stimulants, which many believe are too impactful on those under the age of 18 with a developing brain. ADHD medications like these come with challenging side effects, both for the patient and their loved ones.

There are ample non-medicinal treatment plans that parents and family members can seek for those with ADHD.

For one, establishing a routine (especially for young patients) can be exceptionally helpful in allowing children to thrive both in school and at home. Parents and teachers can aid in enforcing these schedules, providing much-needed structure and support.

Working with a psychologist can also be extremely helpful for ADHD patients, as they can strive to understand why they react the way they do. Therapists can also assist in giving advice to ADHD patients who want to have better social interactions.

It’s also possible that an alternative treatment plan for ADHD can include medical cannabis, as some patients have reported relief from symptoms while using this plant-based medicine (via PLOS One).

The Future of ADHD Treatment

For those who are curious about pharmaceutical therapies for ADHD, there is a lot of information coming out about behavioural interventions and to other alternatives.

And while more research still needs to be conducted on medical cannabis and ADHD, it’s possible that the plant can help some deal with some symptoms.

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