Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in America, and both the recreational and medical use of marijuana remains a highly controversial issue in most American states. Most marijuana use is still experimental and, unfortunately, limited research exists about the clinical applications of cannabis products, especially in consideration to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Few scientific studies examine marijuana and ADHD, and anecdotal reports vary significantly on the potential benefits and drawbacks of using marijuana for ADHD. Further research is needed to understand ADHD and marijuana use and determine whether it is a safe remedy for ADHD symptoms.
For people who live with ADHD, it can be tempting to use drugs like cannabis to soothe uncomfortable symptoms and feel calm and composed, but marijuana is a habit-forming drug. The more frequently a person uses marijuana, the more their brain grows used to and dependent on the substance to function normally. When a person feels like they can’t get through the day without marijuana, or they use the drug compulsively despite the consequences, they are likely developing a marijuana addiction. If someone has ADHD and develops a marijuana addiction, these conditions are called co-occurring disorders. These conditions exacerbate each other’s harmful effects, and professional, dual-diagnosis treatment may be necessary for someone to heal from these co-occurring disorders.
If the person stops using marijuana abruptly, they may struggle with worsened ADHD symptoms. If they are addicted to marijuana, they will likely experience physical and mental marijuana withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it.
Examining Risk Levels: Marijuana Use and ADHD
Unfortunately, people who live with ADHD may be more likely to use marijuana, and more prone to developing a marijuana use disorder. The latest data on marijuana abuse and ADHD illuminates the relationship between marijuana, ADHD and substance use disorders.
- A recent research study shows that children who have diagnosed ADHD face a high risk of substance abuse and addiction, including marijuana use. The same study cited that compared to their peers, children who are diagnosed with ADHD are three times more likely to use marijuana in their lifetime.
- Of all adults who do not seek treatment for their ADHD, half will develop an alcohol or drug addiction during their lifetime, according to existing research.
- According to a scientific study, ADHD is a common condition among people who have substance use disorders like drug or alcohol addictions.
Important points to remember about marijuana and ADHD include:
- It is not yet proven whether marijuana can treat ADHD. There is not enough scientific research to conclude that marijuana use, including medical marijuana, is safe to treat ADHD symptoms. Anecdotal data exists, but these reports are inconsistent and unreliable. Marijuana abuse may only worsen ADHD symptoms.
- Any type of marijuana use is risky, including medical marijuana use. Marijuana use is not without risk because it is an addictive drug. Symptoms of ADHD, like impulsivity, may make children and adults more likely to experiment with marijuana to ease their ADHD symptoms. However, not everyone who has ADHD abuses marijuana.
- Marijuana addiction can co-occur with ADHD. If someone uses marijuana repeatedly, they could develop a marijuana addiction.
Professional treatment can help a person heal from marijuana addiction and ADHD. Dual-diagnosis treatment, commonly offered at rehab centers like The Recovery Village®, is designed to treat co-occurring disorders like marijuana abuse and ADHD. To better understand the risks of your marijuana use, and to learn about rehab for marijuana addiction, you can:
- Complete a marijuana addiction self-assessment: This 12-question quiz helps you evaluate your risk of marijuana addiction. Upon submitting the assessment, you will receive a detailed email explaining your specific risk level and recommended next steps.
- Call The Recovery Village®’s marijuana hotline: At The Recovery Village®, our representatives understand addiction, and many of them are in recovery themselves. When you call our marijuana hotline, you can talk with someone about your marijuana use and get advice about available treatment options. Our marijuana hotline is completely confidential, free and available at any time.