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Statistics show that people with ADHD are more likely to experience job termination, car accidents and license suspensions, interpersonal problems, and divorce. 1  It is fair to say that ADHD impacts every aspect of life, including potential treatment for substance use disorder and addiction. However, could weed for ADHD provide new treatments for symptoms of this disorder?   

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is perhaps the most well-known mental disorder, affecting roughly 9.4% of children and 4-5% of adults in the United States each year. 2

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder involving symptoms including difficulty staying focused, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD typically presents itself between the ages of three to seven, although some find their symptoms lessen in adulthood. ADHD is not a learning disability, although many children with ADHD also show signs of a separate learning disability.   

Executive Functioning

While the exact cause of ADHD remains a mystery, we have learned it involves decreased production of the neurochemical dopamine. 

Dopamine facilitates communication within your body and regulates movement, additionally impacting mood, sleep, digestion, appetite, memory, attention, and learning. Dopamine interacts with the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions including impulse-control, regulating attention, planning, and higher cognition. 3

Brains with ADHD seem to underproduce dopamine, leading to poor executive functioning and tell-tale ADHD signs of low impulse control, hyperactivity, and inattention.   

ADD vs. ADHD

While previously categorized independently, the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) now classifies ADD and ADHD as the same. ADD used to refer to inattentive-type, while ADHD referred to impulsive-hyperactive presentation. ADHD serves as the recognized medical term for neurodevelopmental disorder. 

Diagnosing ADHD

When it comes to ADHD, our minds might jump to images of impulsive grade school kids running wildly on the playground or fidgeting and unable to concentrate in class. However, ADHD is more than having too much energy or being easily distracted.

It is vital to note that diagnostic criteria were developed from ADHD in children, typically boys. As such, adults with ADHD and women may experience different symptoms.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, you must demonstrate persistent and age-inappropriate hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention. Symptoms are divided into categories reflecting the two areas attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder impacts.

For a physician to diagnose you with ADHD, the following requirements must be met: 4

  • Experienced six or more symptoms for at least six months, if between two and sixteen years old
  • Experienced five or more symptoms for at least six months, if over seventeen years old 
  • Symptoms (inattention or hyperactivity/impulsivity) were present before twelve years of age. 
  • Symptoms interfere with functioning in two or more environments 
  • Symptoms significantly impact the quality of life (school, social, work) 
  • Symptoms cannot be explained by another mental condition 
  • Symptoms are considered inappropriate for given age      

Types of ADHD

There are three types of ADHD. Each type reflects different ADHD signs with diagnosis based on the criteria listed above.

  • Inattentive ADHD refers to people who mainly experience symptoms relating to inattention and lack of focus.
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD refers to people who experience more symptoms related to lack of impulse control and increased energy. 
  • Combination ADHD refers to people with a relatively even split between inattentive symptoms and impulsive-hyperactive symptoms.   

ADHD Symptoms

Each type of ADHD includes distinct symptoms that act as diagnostic criteria for different ADHD types. 

Inattentive Symptoms

  • Easily distracted 
  • Cannot concentrate for long periods 
  • Forgetful of daily tasks 
  • Find it challenging to organize tasks and activities 
  • Often lose essential items (wallet, keys, phone, etc.) 
  • Do not always appear to be listening when spoken to 
  • Makes careless mistakes or doesn’t pay close attention to details 
  • Does not listen to or follow-through on instructions or activities 
  • Dislikes or resists work that requires sustained focus and mental effort    

Hyperactive-Impulsive Symptoms

  • Has trouble waiting their turn
  • May speak excessively  
  • Interrupts others before they finish speaking 
  • Intrudes on the activities of others (pushes into games or conversations) 
  • Finds it hard to stop fidgeting, tapping hands or feet, and squirming in seat 
  • Unable to quietly engage in activities 
  • Feels like they’re “always on the go” or driven by an “internal motor” 
  • Gets up or moves when expected to remain seated 
  • Runs or climbs when not appropriate (may be limited to feeling restless for adults)   

What Can an ADHD Test Do for You?

There is no single test that indicates whether you have ADHD. However, reading about common symptoms experienced by adults with ADHD, checking off the diagnosis criteria in the DSM-V and talking with your doctor is a good starting place. 4

Because symptoms of ADHD can look different from diagnostic criteria and overlap with other conditions, adult ADHD is hard to diagnose. Be patient and stick with your doctor – they will help you work through the symptoms causing you distress, so you can live your life freely.   

Treating ADHD

Treatment relies mainly on ADHD medication, although a combination of medication and therapy can provide further benefits. The most prescribed ADHD medications involve two types of psychostimulants: methylphenidate and amphetamine analogs. 

Amphetamine

Amphetamine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant often prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy. Its mechanism of action works by blocking dopamine reuptake and increasing dopamine production. One of the most well-known ADHD medications in this category is Adderall. Adderall is a mix of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that helps regulate dopamine levels.

Popularly prescribed and commercially available amphetamine analogs include dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and mixed amphetamine salts (MAS).

Amphetamine and Adderall side effects can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Raised heart rate 
  • Nervousness 
  • Increased sweating 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Insomnia 
  • Extreme mood swings 

Rare but serious side effects can include hypertension, seizures, psychosis, and myocardial infarction.  

Methylphenidate

Although structurally similar to amphetamine, methylphenidate is another psychostimulant widely prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy. Methylphenidate works by blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake.

Methylphenidate side effects can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness 
  • Tachycardia 
  • Hypertension 

Rare but serious side effects can include:

  • Hypertension
  • Seizures 
  • Psychosis 
  • Myocardial infarction 

Other ADHD Medications

Other non-stimulant ADHD medications include Tricyclic antidepressants, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), atypical antipsychotics, bupropion, atomoxetine, clonidine, venlafaxine, and modafinil.  

Treating ADHD with Dual Diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder

Many people entering recovery find themselves wondering, “Do I need to treat both my ADHD and SUD? Can I just treat my addiction and worry about my ADHD later?” The short answer is yes – ADHD directly impacts recovery adherence and success, so treating ADHD simultaneously with SUDs is imperative.

For individuals with ADHD and SUD, physicians often hesitate to prescribe the typical ADHD stimulants that could reinforce addictions. Statistics show people with ADHD develop SUDs earlier than people without ADHD and have a more difficult time stopping long-term use. 5   

Detox for Dual Diagnosis SUD and ADHD

When someone with ADHD is detoxing, physicians must consider which medications will interact more effectively with the patient’s brain chemistry. Ensuring patients don’t experience a dopamine crash during withdrawal improves recovery adherence.  

Therapies

An essential element of therapy for people with ADHD is psychoeducation. Learning about other people’s experiences, symptoms, and how the ADHD brain works can make symptoms less scary and more approachable. Other widely used therapies for ADHD include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), structured skills training, coaching, and behavior modification therapy. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy encourages patients to become aware of their thought patterns, helping them develop emotional coping skills and behaviors that create healthier habits. 

Structured skills training is a modified version of CBT that’s proven especially effective. Coaching helps patients develop strategies to tackle procrastination, organization, and time-management issues. Therapists mainly use behavior modification with children to help reinforce positive behaviors and shed negative habits.   

ADHD Medication

Most treatment for ADHD relies on stimulants. For people with SUD, though, the worry is that stimulants can counteract therapy and other drugs used to control cravings and withdrawal. Luckily, clinical trials of methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine for the dual treatment of ADHD and cocaine dependence show stimulants for SUD and ADHD are relatively safe when monitored. 6

Non-stimulant medications may be preferred when stimulants are not an option, although research suggests they’re less effective ADHD medications. It is always essential for physicians to weigh the possibility of misuse against the expense of not treating ADHD symptoms.

New delivery systems like the crush-resistant shell used by Concerta or the methylphenidate skin patch approved by the FDA may provide more abuse-resistant approaches to treating patients with co-occurring SUD and ADHD.    

Brain Mapping

Brain mapping is a tool that uses an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure neuron communications in the brain. Brain mapping can help identify overactive or underactive parts of the brain and determine potential triggers.

The impact of drug use looks different than ADHD. Brain mapping can help you determine whether you have ADHD or are experiencing ADHD symptoms caused by other sources.  

What is Marijuana?

weed for adhd 

Also known as cannabis, weed, pot, mary jane, grass, ganja, herb, chronic, hash, dope, and bud – marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug on the market. Marijuana can be classified as a hallucinogen, stimulant, or depressant – it all depends on how it interacts.

People who use marijuana recreationally often do so for the calm, euphoria, and relaxation they experience. Medical marijuana has been used to treat seizures, chronic pain, nausea, glaucoma, appetite loss, and many other disorders, although more research is needed to support its effectiveness.

Common signs of marijuana use include: 7   

  • Feelings of anxiety or paranoia
  • Low attention span 
  • Poor memory 
  • Difficulty learning 
  • Mood changes 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Increased coughing, phlegm production, or bronchitis 

Rare but serious signs of chronic marijuana use include:

  • Increased risk of depression and thoughts of suicides in adolescents
  • Heightened risk for temporary psychosis (not knowing what’s real) 
  • Increased risk of developing a long-lasting mental condition, like schizophrenia      

Statistics on Marijuana Use

The CDC reports over 22.2 million users each month. As more states begin legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, the statistics on monthly marijuana use are likely to increase. Of those users, statistics show one in ten will develop an addiction. That rate increases to one in six when marijuana use begins before the age of eighteen. 

It’s important to note the risk of developing a cannabis addiction is 1.5 times higher for people who received ADHD diagnoses as children, making marijuana for ADHD a questionable approach. 8    

Can Marijuana Treat ADHD?

Because it is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, studies on the effectiveness of marijuana for ADHD are limited. Most information comes from qualitative analysis of self-medicating and exploring how marijuana’s side effects could impact ADHD. While the studies examining the relationship between weed and ADHD are thin, many people have come out in support of the “natural remedy for ADHD.”

Many who advocate marijuana for ADHD comment on the drug’s ability to regulate some of the more challenging aspects of ADHD, but with fewer side effects than stimulants. 2016 analysis of online forums found them jam-packed with people sharing how marijuana helped curb ADHD signs with minimal adverse effects. 9 

Conversations and qualitative analysis of the effects of cannabis suggest it may be more helpful in limiting ADHD signs for hyperactive-impulsive presentation than inattentive presentation.    

CBD and ADHD

CBD (cannabidiol) is a component of cannabis without the psychoactive ingredients that deliver the high typically associated with weed.

No ongoing large-scale clinical trials are examining the relationship between CBD and ADHD. However, CBD promotes antipsychotic and anti-anxiety qualities, making it an intriguing option for ADHD treatment. Further research will help us understand more clearly how CBD and ADHD work together.   

Limitations and Marijuana Dependence

People with ADHD are at heightened risk for developing a substance use disorder in their lives, including marijuana addiction. Because individuals with ADHD are predisposed to develop SUDs, people who self-medicate with marijuana for ADHD should do so cautiously. 

Additionally, both short-term and long-term marijuana use can lead to side effects including dependence, so it’s important to weigh how medical marijuana may impact you.   

Weed and ADHD Medication

If you are already taking ADHD medication, it’s beneficial to consider how your weed and ADHD medications could interact. For instance, when Adderall and medical marijuana are combined, they can cause your heart rate to spike.

On the other hand, medical marijuana seems to cancel out some of the negative side effects of Adderall, combatting appetite suppression with hunger and agitation with calm and euphoria. However, when left unchecked, using marijuana for ADHD in combination with Adderall can make it easier to develop an Adderall addiction by removing the adverse effects of Adderall use.      

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Gina Bowman

Executive Assistant

Gina Bowman is the Executive Assistant at Brooks Healing Center. She was born in Florida but resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband, Tyler Bowman, and two daughters Charlotte and Isabella.

Gina is a friendly, loyal, and dedicated individual. She has a heart for helping others and understands the effects of addiction and the toll it can take on families. She is the one that helps make things happen behind the scenes and brings fun ideas to Brooks Healing Center as well as keeping things organized. 

Colleen Bradford, MBA, BA-MHR

Executive Director, Human Resources Director

Colleen Believes servitude towards others provides a solid foundation for personal and professional growth. She is a calm problem solver who juggles multiple situations simultaneously and works confidently and efficiently in even the most challenging, fast-paced environments. She is highly regarded for her consistent ability to apply sound judgment, emotional intelligence, and etiquette to sensitive, confidential, and unpredictable situations. She is an organized, professional, resourceful, and seasoned healthcare professional with diverse skills for boosting organizational productivity and quality of care initiatives.

Colleen has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration with a minor in health care administration from Trevecca Nazarene University. She has been married for 32 years to Doyle Bradford, and they have two sons, Thomas and Allen Bradford, along with two grandchildren, Ben and Faith Bradford. She is excited to have this unique opportunity to serve her community. She is a phenomenal cookie baker and mother figure to those at the Brooks Healing Center. We are honored to have her be a part of our vision. 

Frank Throneberry

Co-Founder and COO

Frank is a lifelong 7th generation native of Middle Tennessee. Frank cares for his local community and keeping Tennessee healthy, knowing that people all over the USA seek out his home state’s friendly and outdoor atmosphere. He is a hardworking and energetic person that is no stranger to going out of his way to help others.

Frank started his recovery from alcohol and substance abuse over seven years ago. He is continually working on a recovery program and became passionate about sharing his story, helping others, and supporting others to find freedom from their addiction. He also formerly owned and managed ‘recovery community’ homes where he walked with and encouraged many individuals in their journey. Frank’s servant attitude is what helps him listen, understand, and put others’ needs first.

Outside of his career, Frank cherishes his time with his wife, Maribeth, and his three children: Jackson, Piper, and Charlie. They enjoy the great outdoors on their family farm in Shelbyville, TN, and boating and fishing with family on Tim’s Ford Lake. He is a dedicated husband and father. 

James “Tyler” Bowman

Founder and CEO

Tyler is the heart of the Brooks Healing Center. His vision is to guide others to find their own recovery and to thrive in life. Tyler was fortunate to have lived through his addiction and now finds fulfillment in serving others. Tyler has worked in the substance abuse field for over five years and felt convicted to build a place where individuals are loved until they can learn to love themselves.  

Tyler has the love and support of his family as he continues to provide care to those who have lost themselves along the way. Tyler is the father of two daughters, Charlotte, his oldest, and Isabella, his youngest. Tyler’s wife, Gina, supports the Brooks Healing Center’s vision, and she shares his passion for helping others as well.  

Tyler has a story to tell and is willing to share his experiences, good or bad, with anyone. Brooks Healing Center is the way he gives back for all he took when he was using. For the past seven years, Tyler has gone beyond to share his recovery and is thriving in life.