ADHD and Cannabis Use in Young Adults Examined

Young adults with ADHD use cannabis treatment

Cannabis use and children. It is something nobody could have predicted we would be talking about never mind actually doing it. However due to its known medical benefits from various clinical & scientific studies it is now being considered as an alternative treatment for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Before we continue, a number of things should be understood. Firstly, medical cannabis including THC can have adverse effects on the brain development of children because their brains are not yet fully developed.

It can also lead to schizophrenia but this can only be considered as a risk as it is not guaranteed to happen. Secondly, regardless of cannabis use, children with ADHD are always at a higher risk of negative medication side effects due to the number of medications they are on for their ADHD symptoms. The strength of these medications is also a contributing factor to these side effects.

A study which is available to download below, details the findings in regards to:

  • Children with ADHD given cannabis monthly over a yearly period.
  • Children with ADHD not given cannabis.
  • Local Normative Comparison Group (LNCG) given cannabis monthly over a yearly period.
  • Local Normative Comparison Group (LNCG) not given cannabis.

It is not specifically stated as to what the “Local Normative Comparison Group (LNCG)” is, however, we can theorize it means children without ADHD considering the sample group and the purpose of the study. This will allow the study to have a good baseline of brain activity to compare when introducing cannabis, so the researchers can see how and where it influences the brain. This could lead to future opiate based medications being created with better functions and less side effects or it could lead to increased research into the use of cannabis as an alternative treatment for the symptoms of ADHD.

To summarize the findings of the study it found that patients with ADHD had similar brain activity attributed to the condition and cannabis use had not effect on their behavior. Cannabis did provide a huge reaction within the brain where many cannabinoid receptors are found but only in the LNCG not the ADHD patients. The question that remains here is why does this happen and can cannabis be used as a treatment for ADHD when it doesn’t result in increased brain activity? The study understands this which is why it concludes by saying,

Future studies targeting hippocampal and cerebellar-dependent function in these groups may provide further insight into how this circuitry is altered by ADHD and cannabis use.

Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.

Effects of Cannabis on Young Adults with ADHD

No main effects of cannabis use on response inhibition or functional brain activation were observed. An interaction of ADHD diagnosis and cannabis use was found in the right hippocampus and cerebellar vermis, with increased recruitment of these regions in cannabis-using controls during correct response inhibition. ADHD participants had impaired response inhibition combined with less frontoparietal/striatal activity, regardless of cannabis use history.

Cannabis use did not impact behavioral response inhibition. Cannabis use was associated with hippocampal and cerebellar activation, areas rich in cannabinoid receptors, in LNCG but not ADHD participants. This may reflect the recruitment of compensatory circuitry in cannabis-using controls but not ADHD participants. Future studies targeting hippocampal and cerebellar-dependent function in these groups may provide further insight into how ADHD and cannabis use alter this circuitry. While this is all said and done, more studies are still needed on the topic to get a proper evaluation. Cannabis is still relatively new, therefore we still know little about it.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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