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Thread: Cannabis and ADHD

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Cannabis and ADHD

    I decided to start this topic with the hope that I can help someone else with similar conditions to mine while helping myself in doing so. Although I do not want to make this topic about my rehab but about ADHD & pot usage, the following text is built upon my observations and are necessarily unique to my situation and my condition. I will try to explain what I have found about my cannabis addiction and how it relates to ADHD.

    I do understand that not all addictions or cannabis addictions are related to ADHD. I also understand that all people with ADHD are not addicts nor cannabis users. This is an empirical view of my own condition and I will explain what makes me think that there is a relationship between the two. I also understand is that this is not an ADHD forum. I will try the best I can to avoid ADHD topics that are unrelated to cannabis. If I slip, please forgive me. I still find it important to introduce some context because some people may not know that they have ADHD, but if they do, it might inspire them to investigate the possibility with their medical doctor. English is not my primary language so forgive me when I butcher the language.

    I'm 47 years old. I started using cannabis at about 13 years old. It was in the form of hashish. I really liked it. Soon enough, I was enjoying cannabis when I could, as often as I could. I was drawn to cannabis. I can say that I was an occasional user until the age of around 26. This is when I got married and had an apartment with my wife. My wife goes to sleep early. In my case, at the time, 3 hours a night were sufficient. At least, this was my average night of sleep, from 17 to 26. I always had problems resigning myself to go to sleep. This is when I started to smoke every night. My wife would go to sleep and I would relax with a smoke. Sometimes we would smoke together; sex was really good and cannabis orgasms were second to none. My wife never became addicted to pot. For me, cannabis was the most beautiful thing. It enhanced many parts of my life, listening to music, eating, sex, sleep quality, pain control (I suffer from arthritis). My wife never complained about my cannabis usage.

    All of my life, I've always felt like an underachiever. At work, I've always been labeled as an eccentric thought leader, a leading technical resource, and unparalleled problem solver. I was valued for my insights and my ability to solve unsolvable problems to find creative solutions and innovate. But my career has been limited by extreme procrastination, lack of organization, lack of follow through and boredom when faced with repetition. I always attributed these traits to my personality (INTP) along with my usage of cannabis.

    Growing older, I felt that these traits were very limiting. Many years ago, I wanted to quit cannabis to achieve more. It must have been the midlife crisis which started when I was around 39, about 8 years ago. Comparing what I achieved with what I could have done made me depressed. After, I tried many times to cut down on cannabis, but always came back to it. Trying to quit made me realize that I was addicted. When I tried to quit, I would just start abusing other things which I considered even worse. I then attributed this to having an addictive personality. I am addicted to cannabis, high carb food, sex, extreme sports... I did try to understand the psychological causes for my addictive personality. I tried to accept the past, try to accept myself, have compassion for myself, love me... but cannabis always came back into my life, as a good and reliable friend along with my other addictions.
    But my desire to quit did not go away. I hated myself every day for using it, but I was unable to resist. I started to read about how cannabis worked on my brain, what made me like is so much. I read that cannabinoids affect the levels of dopamine in our brain, resulting in a sense of relaxation and euphoria. This made sense because I used cannabis every night, on or two hours before going to sleep. So I started investigating dopamine. It seems that dopamine has some kind of rewarding function that is essential for our survival. When we need resources, low level of dopamine prevents us from relaxing and makes us go after food, water, reproduction, etc., the basic life functions. When we eat after being very hungry, we get a dose of dopamine telling us that our behavior was good, a reward. This seems especially true for high carbs food, and pot.

    Like in every other aspect of life, some people have naturally more dopamine while other have less. Reading further on the subject, I have found that the DRD2 A1 Allele gene will influence the dopamine level in people's brain. It is documented to make people more anti-social and more susceptible to be alcohol dependent. I've been pretty much anti-social all my life but not really alcohol dependent, unless I was abstaining from cannabis.

    For assistance with finding a reputable and accredited Marijuana Rehab Service Provider in the USA you can call the US Government’s FREE SAMHSA’s National Helpline on:

    1-800-662-HELP (4357)



    Here one reference http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14643564

    I asked myself if alcohol was the only dependence driven by that gene? Alcohol does raise dopamine level, just like cannabis, high carb foods, sex, sports. This when I hypothesized that I was not addicted to all those things but addicted to the dopamine reward, to the dopamine rush that they provided.

    I researched the common symptoms of low level of dopamines

    fatigue
    lack of motivation
    inability to experience pleasure
    insomnia
    hard time getting going in the morning
    mood swings
    forgetfulness
    memory loss
    inability to focus and concentrate
    inability to connect with others
    low libido
    sugar cravings
    caffeine cravings
    inability to handle stress
    inability to lose weight


    These effects were similar to those I experienced after abstaining from cannabis. Looking at these symptoms, I often hit ADHD references. This is when it hit me. Could ADHD be related to low dopamine? I didn't see impulsivity or hyperactivity in that list. I did a little more research and found references like these:

    "The impulse and behavior problems found in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) appear related to low levels of Dopamine in the brain. When dopamine levels are normal, we can repress the urge to do or say something in public, grab something interesting on a desk, blurt out our opinion, or touch/poke someone who has just walked within our physical range. Low levels of dopamine in the brain makes control of impulsive behavior almost impossible in the ADHD Child/Adult. " -Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
    http://www.drjoecarver.com/clients/4...%20(ADHD).html

    I though "Wait, I'm struggling with addictions, all kinds that create dopamine rushes, I know that I have and always had problems with attention, procrastination, laziness, disorganization, impulsiveness. There is a gene that drives dopamine levels. Why don't I research how ADHD is medicated?"

    When we think about ADHD medication we think about Ritalin or methylphenidate. So how does methylphenidate affect our brains? Methylphenidate increases the activity of dopamine and noradrenaline in areas of the brain that play a part in controlling attention and behavior. I thought: "I want to quit cannabis, I need to control my behavior. I believe that I am addicted to those dopamine rushes because I may have a gene variation that lowers my natural level of dopamine. What if these meds regulated dopamine in a way that would appease my cravings for cannabis and everything else?"

    I went to the doctor, talked about all my ADHD symptoms that were evident throughout my life, starting in childhood. He gave me some ADHD medication, I tried, it worked. I have been cannabis craving-free since I started medication. Binge eating went way down. Alcohol usage, even if it was under control, went down as well. When I'm alone, I go for the carrots or almonds instead of white bread or brownie. The side effect is that it did change my life. I am much more organized. I control impulsions not only related to drugs and food but spending as well. I am more focused, I follow through work. Most of my ADHD symptoms receded with methylphenidate. I can focus for long periods, read without getting lost in my thoughts or on the web. The motivation increase is fabulous; the first day with a significant dosage made me realize what I was missing. It made me realize how much I missed. I started having the ability to care about the future and set objectives. I am now doing things that I thought were just impossible for me.

    My desire to quit cannabis led me through this process and the benefits are much greater than what I expected. I conclude that I was self-medicating ADHD if not a genetic variation DRD2 A1 that that is not adapted for our modern world where dopamine rushes are readily available. I read that this variation increases chances to survive in a harsh environment where we must hunt for food. It is a plague in our modern society where we just extend an arm for high calorific foods or for our beloved cannabis.

    I hope that this does help someone else in my situation.

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  2. #2
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    Sep 2014
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    I am working on further experiments related to this subject. From what I have read, methylphenidate works by blocking dopamine transporters which causes the increase of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, the center of excutive functions that regulate impulsivity, attention, judgement, working memory, etc. If you read my previous post, you will have read that I suspect having a low natural level of dopamine, maybe because of the DRD2 A1 gene, maybe for other causes. This low level predates cannabis since I already had ADHD troubles as a child. My next experiment will be with raising dopamine synthesis instead of block the transporters. This could allow me to use lower dosage of methylphenidate. It needs to be done at a natural level and not in a rush along firing neurons that need not be fired.
    Vitamin C, genseng, L-Tyrosin, L-Theanine are known to promote dopamine biosynthesis. L-Tyrosine is especially interesting because a low concentration of Tyrosine has been observed in people with depression. If dopamine is synthesized by the amino acid tyrosine, it may be possible that an increase may he

  3. #3
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    I was just wondering if you have ever tried gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) I think I have read that people with ADHD may have a shortage of it, l theanine acts as a agonist for it but taking the actual neurotransmitter it's self in supplement form is a direct way to boost it's levels within the brain, anyway I am not endorsing it personally for ADHD but I just thought you may want to look at it if you haven't already. I have tried it for anxiety and along with L theanine it's not bad.

    All the best,
    Cannabis Rehab Admin

    If you wish to Use then Use, Your Body Your Choice, You're NOT a Criminal and I wish you well!

    My Choice is to be Drug Rehabilitated for 13 years because I Chose to be free from its Control on me!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    Hello CRA,

    Thanks for the suggestion, I will investigate.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    Default urges, compulsions and the addictive personality

    I decided to bump this thread that I wrote back in August. I did because I read posts about the urges that we addict have. After almost seven months off pot, I know that my "addictive personality" will not go away. I still experience it despite the medication that helped me stay clean for so long. I don't take the meds every day, and when I don't, I have all kind of urges and compulsions that come back. Most of them I don't really fight because they are acceptable, like the compulsion to fill myself with high-carb food or to drink too much coffee. But since I take my meds, at least five days a week, I am still under control for that time. But I don't keep pot in the house. If I did, I bet I would end up trying just once and then start using again.

    Anyways, if you feel that you have urges that are beyond cannabis, I suggest that you read this thread and give it a thought. It may or may not apply to you, but knowledge is power, even in the context of addictions.


    Peace. -LGFI

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