Understanding ADD - How Can Cannabis Help? | cannabisMD

Understanding ADD – How Can Cannabis Help?

Ways cannabis can help ADD

Image Credit: By Alp Aksoy on shutterstock.

ADD, and ADHD are surprisingly undertreated in adults. While doctors tend to focus on children with the disorder, less than 20% of adults with attention deficit disorder and ADHD seek help from medical professionals. Hyperactivity usually falls off in the later years, but the inattentiveness is still there.

Doctors often prescribe Adderall and other ADD medication to their patients with the disorder. While these drugs can be effective for many people, they carry a significant downside with them. Adderall not only leads to dependency for many of its users, but it can also be accompanied by a host of side effects and medical problems.

These stimulants aren’t the only answer when it comes to treating attention deficit disorder. Researchers are exploring alternative treatments for ADD and ADHD, and one of their answers may come in the form of cannabis.

What Is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?

ADD, and ADHD are cognitive disorders that affect both children and adults. Most of the time, doctors diagnose children with ADHD and adults with ADD. If left untreated, these disorders can lead to problems later in life including depression, self-medication, crime, antisocial behavior, and suicidal thoughts.

These disorders are usually genetic, but they can stem from a traumatic experience as well. The number of people diagnosed with these disorders is on the rise, and researchers aren’t completely sure why. Part of the reason could be a development in diagnoses, but there’s likely something bigger going on.


Medication is one effective treatment for attention deficit disorder in adults, but it can have some substantial side effects. Drugs like Adderal and Ritalin suppress appetite and keep people up at night, which are two of the more tame side effects associated with the drug.

Sleep is one of the most powerful treatments for adult ADD. If you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel much more focused in the morning. If these drugs keep you up at night, they can lead to a spiral of dependency where you can’t possibly focus without popping a pill.

Apart from sleep, there are several other natural treatments you can use to help combat the inattentiveness you’re experiencing. Exercise long walks in nature, and setting a schedule for yourself are simple ways to help combat your brain’s tendency to wander away.

Now that medical cannabis is finally entering the public eye, researchers are starting to take it more seriously. They’re exploring it as a treatment for multiple disorders, including ADD in both adults and children.

Cannabis and ADD

Researchers have only started seriously researching cannabis as an ADD and ADHD treatment recently. Most of the research was sparked by a study that involved self-medication and the effectiveness of cannabis on those who used it. Users experienced less impulsiveness and increased attention, which lead many to start wondering if we can use cannabis to treat the disorder.

A Counterintuitive Solution

For many cannabis users, the idea that weed can help increase focus is laughable. Many users have a hard time remembering where they were going with their sentence and have a hard time imagining the drug helping to improve their focus on a daily basis.

It’s a fair argument, but these people don’t have the same brain chemistry as a person with attention deficit disorder. It’s the same reason that weed can cause paranoia for some people and alleviate anxiety in others.

Cannabis might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering a solution to ADD, but that’s no reason to discount it. In fact, there are a few logical reasons why someone with ADD might benefit from regular cannabis use.


Attention deficit disorder and ADHD both result in a shortage of dopamine in the brain. Using cannabis and other drugs like Ritalin correct this imbalance, and allow the user to find interest in the smaller, more mundane tasks of life.

You may have a hard time focusing and getting your chores done. Even cleaning your room could be a substantial task for someone with ADD. If you introduce weed to the equation, a person can tackle a task one part at a time.

Sometimes those with ADD feel overwhelmed by having too much on their plate. Cannabis simplifies these things for them, and they’re able to see a path to completion. Instead of losing focus and drifting away, they can find pleasure in some of these smaller tasks that they’d otherwise completely ignore.

Public Perception

There’s a troublesome lack of research when it comes to the relationship between ADD and cannabis. Researchers are starting to fill the gaps, but it will take years before the medical community accepts their findings and puts their recommendations into practice.

For now, proponents of cannabis for attention deficit disorder are forced to cite anecdotal evidence to support their case. In the past, it’s been difficult to get funding for a study that focuses on the benefits of cannabis. The negatives of the drug have been studied extensively, but it’s now time to focus on the positives.

Public perception also affects cannabis users who are self-medicating. Most states won’t prescribe cannabis for attention deficit disorder, which means users are forced to self-medicate. If they don’t like the drugs doctors give them, they have to turn to the black market to buy unregulated cannabis without consulting with a doctor.

For some, this alternative means they’ll never get the treatment they desperately need. The current therapies for ADD are limited, and they don’t work for everyone. Since marijuana is illegal in so many states, those who consider themselves law-abiding citizens won’t buy cannabis.

The public perception of marijuana is slowly changing for the better, which is fantastic. As regulations loosen, more researchers will have the opportunity to study the relationship between the drug and ADD.

Once this happens, we’ll be able to see more evidence of the benefits of marijuana use, and doctors will hopefully be more inclined to offer prescriptions.

Best Strains for ADD

Since scientists have yet to provide any conclusive evidence one way or another, we’re left with mostly anecdotal evidence when it comes to marijuana and attention deficit disorder. Fortunately, those who have this disorder can share their experiences with cannabis and give us their recommendations when it comes to what strains to use. Ahead are some of the strains you can purchase at your local medical marijuana shop which should help you focus.


Most of the strains on this list will be Sativa since this is the type of weed associated with increased energy. Shaman fits that model, and dispensaries usually recommend it for anxiety, chronic pain, and depression.

Shaman is great for outdoor or otherwise physical activity. Take a puff or two of this strain before shoveling snow or mowing the lawn. You’ll zone-in on the task at hand and won’t bother with other distractions.

Be careful how much you take of this strain. If you aren’t an experienced user, you could end up getting more impaired than you planned here.

Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel is a favorite for many recreational smokers, but it can also help you focus on the activity at hand. It’s another Sativa-dominant strain that will boost your energy after a couple puffs.

This strain is also known for lightening the mood of its users, which is perfect when you have something to do. It will wake you up and get you ready to tackle whatever task you have to do that day.

Green Crack

As the name suggests, Green Crack is another popular pick-me-up strain that won’t leave you locked to your couch. It enhances creativity and is ideal for painters, writers, and other creatives who can’t seem to muster the next great idea.

This strain will get your mind firing and your body ready for the day. If you often feel lethargic and lazy, try taking a hit of Green Crack and see if it helps you focus on what you need to do.


Harle-Tsu is lower in THC and higher in CBD. This means you’ll get most of the beneficial effects of cannabis regarding anxiety relief and focus without the psychoactive component.

If you commonly run into the problem of feeling like you’re in a mental haze after smoking, this strain will help alleviate that. You won’t get as high with Harle-Tsu, which allows you to complete tasks that require more thought. The strain is perfect for writers, creatives, and anyone else who need to clear their head to complete a task.

An Effective Treatment for ADD

The treatments we have for attention deficit disorder are flawed. A larger percentage of the people who suffer from the disorder never seek treatment. When they do, some of them are dissatisfied with the drugs the doctors give them.

Although the scientific community needs to complete more studies on the matter, cannabis looks like it could provide an alternative. Current ADD drugs lead to a long list of side effects. Cannabis is much more user-friendly, and you should try it if you’re still struggling to focus after being diagnosed with ADD.

Want to know more about cannabis and attention deficit disorder? Take a look at our blog!

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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