Cannabis for ADHD
Hope for the treatment of adults
Have you ever heard of cannabis for ADHD? Since 2017, medical cannabis can be prescribed as a medicine under certain conditions1. Since the change in the law, ADHD patients can also benefit from this therapy option.
The treatment of ADHD is still immature and there seem to be few alternatives to the established drugs such as Ritalin. However, due to the side effects2, medication is not a long-term option for many patients and they continue to suffer from the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. Canify Clinics is committed to improving the quality of life of patients with chronic disorders. How does this work? Cannabis offers a broad spectrum of effects in medicine. However, the path to a cannabis prescription is arduous and affected people often lack one thing above all: the strength to rush from appointment to appointment. Therefore, we at Canify Clinics want to support you on this path and take away as many worries as possible. However, keep in mind that cannabis treatment is not suitable for everyone.
Criteria for the prescription of medical cannabis
The Cannabis as Medicine Act3 allows doctors of all specialities (except veterinarians and dentists) to prescribe cannabis as medicine on a narcotic prescription under certain conditions.
These conditions include the presence of a serious illness that is classified as therapy-resistant, for which no standard therapy is available or for which the side effects of standard therapy are unacceptable. In addition, according to medical assessment, there must be a chance that the symptoms will improve with medicinal cannabis.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses. In many people's minds, the disorder is almost synonymous with families who do not raise their offspring properly. The actual causes and risk factors for the development of ADHD have not yet been conclusively determined, but studies suggest that various factors such as genetic predisposition, maternal health and environmental influences may play a role in the development of the disorder4.
Although ADHD is not uncommon in adults, the prevalence is higher in children and adults5.
The difference between ADHD and ADD
In addition to the more common term ADHD, some patients suffer from the lesser known ADHD. While ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADD means Attention Deficit Disorder, so the hyperactivity factor is absent.
What exactly are the symptoms of ADHD? Here is a brief overview of the core ADHD symptoms for you:
- Inattention: Affected people often describe difficulties in concentrating6. If they are in a room where several people are talking independently, they find it difficult to focus on their own conversation. They perceive their environment unfiltered. As a result, ADHD sufferers often find it difficult to complete tasks in a structured way.
- Impulsiveness: Impulsive actions and difficulties in controlling aggression are also among the typical ADHD symptoms7. This often manifests itself in thoughtless statements and actions. Then adults affected burst into conversations without being asked and disregard rules and regulations.
- Hyperactivity: What manifests itself in childhood mainly through a constant urge to move, is often less obvious in adults. Those affected often experience a more inner restlessness. Some are constantly bouncing their feet or cracking their fingers, others do excessive sports and feel uncomfortable when sitting for long periods of time. However, there are also patients who do not experience restlessness and instead experience listlessness8.
In addition to the three main symptoms, adults with ADHD often report secondary symptoms9:
- Mood swings
- Reduced emotional control and stress tolerance
- Disorganization and impatience
The diagnosis of ADHD
For a diagnosis of ADHD, patients can first contact their family doctor or psychiatrist. In many larger cities, there are also special ADHD centers that have particular expertise in diagnosing ADHD in adults. At the beginning, symptoms and signs are usually assessed using standardized questionnaires10 and individual interviews. The differential diagnosis is often "emotionally unstable personality disorder of the borderline type11" because the symptoms can sometimes be similar.
Therapy options for ADHD
Once the diagnosis of ADHD is confirmed, those affected can begin to treat the symptoms. Various therapy models are available to help people cope with everyday life with ADHD. One of the most proven is the so-called DBT12 (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), a form of behavioral therapy that was developed especially for the treatment of borderline patients, but can also sustainably improve the quality of life of ADHD patients13.
In addition, drug therapy is often necessary to enable those affected to participate in life. Many patients are treated with the active substance methylphenidate (known in Germany under the trade name Ritalin). The narcotic interferes with the transmission of signals in the brain and can thus increase the ability to concentrate and promote balance14. However, many users report side effects that dwarf the positive effects or cause patients to shy away from taking the drug.
For these patients, medical cannabis can be an alternative option. However, research into the efficacy of medicinal cannabis is still in its infancy, and there are only very few conclusive studies available on a range of conditions. In the case of ADHD, a preliminary study15 conducted at Kings College in London with 30 adult participants suggests that the use of a cannabis medication can have a positive effect on the symptoms of the disorder. Among other things, the participants in the study reported that the medication could alleviate symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity.
It should also be said that the side effects of medicinal cannabis are mild compared to the adverse effects that can occur with conventional medications for the treatment of ADHD.
How does Canify Clinics help?
Canify Clinics wants to serve chronically ill patients with medical cannabis in the most uncomplicated way possible. People with chronic mental illnesses often find it difficult to take care of their own health. Making and keeping appointments with different doctors often becomes an insurmountable hurdle. We know that. Yet – or perhaps because of this – Canify Clinics is committed to providing you with the best possible care. How does Canify Clinics achieve this?
Canify Clinics offers a network of specialists who accompany you on the path to medical cannabis and continue to support you throughout the process. After an intake appointment with one of our cooperating doctors, further appointments can take place either in person or via video call. Only the annual follow-up is obligatory and must take place in person. The doctors are specialized in the field of medical cannabis care and treat you not only with a lot of expertise, but above all with empathy and understanding for your situation and individual needs.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
The typical main symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder include increased, uncontrollable activity, frequent inability to concentrate on a task or conversation, and decreased impulse control. Symptoms such as reduced stress tolerance, forgetfulness or mood swings are also part of everyday life for many ADHD sufferers. ADHD can also lead to disorganization and impatience.
Can you be a cannabis patient with ADHD?
Whether a patient qualifies for treatment with medicinal cannabis is always at the discretion of the treating physician. According to the law, seriously ill patients are entitled to receive medicinal cannabis if they do not respond to conventional therapies or if they suffer from severe side effects. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patients may meet the criteria and are therefore in principle eligible to receive medicines containing cannabis.
Can I with ADHD apply for reimbursement of cannabis?
In consultation with the treating doctors, ADHD patients can also apply for the costs of treatment with medicinal cannabis to be covered. Statutory health insurance companies have five weeks to process the application, and for palliative patients the decision must be made within three days. Even if the health insurance company rejects the application, ADHD patients can receive medical cannabis on prescription, but they must then bear the costs of the treatment themselves.
Disclaimer / legal information
This article is for informational purposes only and does not replace medical advice from a doctor. The content is not intended to motivate self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor to tempt people to change their current medical treatment on their own. Canify Clinics does not make any recommendations or promote any diagnostic methods or treatments. If you wish to change your treatment, this should always be discussed with a doctor. Furthermore, Canify Clinics cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness and balance of the content. Therefore, neither the authors of the texts nor Canify Clinics accept any liability for damages resulting from the independent use of the information described here.
2. RITALIN 10 mg Tabletten - Beipackzettel | Apotheken Umschau. https://www.apotheken-umschau.de/medikamente/beipackzettel/ritalin-10-mg-tabletten-9621117.html.
3. Gesetz ‘Cannabis als Medizin’ in Kraft getreten - Bundesgesundheitsministerium. https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/ministerium/meldungen/2017/maerz/cannabis-als-medizin-inkrafttreten.html.
4. Yusuf Ali, A. et al. Elements That Influence the Development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children. Cureus 14, (2022).
5. Bachmann, C. J., Philipsen, A. & Hoffmann, F. ADHD in Germany: Trends in Diagnosis and Pharmacotherapy. Dtsch Arztebl Int 114, 141–148 (2017).
6. ADHS-Symptome: Aufmerksamkeitsstörung | Ratgeber ADHS. https://www.adhs-ratgeber.com/adhs-aufmerksamkeitsstoerung.html.
7. ADHS im Erwachsenenalter - ADHS Infoportal. https://www.adhs.info/fuer-erwachsene/adhs-im-erwachsenenalter/.
8. ADHS-Symptome: Hyperaktivität | Ratgeber ADHS. https://www.adhs-ratgeber.com/adhs-hyperaktivitaet.html.
9. Nebensymptome bei ADHS | Ratgeber ADHS. https://www.adhs-ratgeber.com/adhs-nebensymptome.html.
10. Diagnostik Erw - Zentrales adhs-netz. https://www.zentrales-adhs-netz.de/fuer-therapeuten/diagnostik/diagnostik-erw/.
11. Psychiatrienetz: Borderline-Persönlichkeitsstörung. https://www.psychiatrie.de/psychische-erkrankungen/borderline-persoenlichkeitsstoerung.html.
12. Stiglmayr, C. Die Dialektisch-Behaviorale Therapie bei der Borderline-Persönlichkeitsstörung. PSYCH up2date 11, 151–164 (2017).
13. Matthies, S., Hesslinger, B. & Philipsen, A. Verhaltenstherapeutische Ansätze bei der Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-/Hyperaktivitätsstörung (ADHS) im Erwachsenenalter. Psychotherapie 13. Jahrg. Bd. 13, Heft 2 © CIP-Medien, München. Bd 13. (2008).
14. Faraone, Stephen V et al. The World Federation of ADHD International Consensus Statement: 208 Evidence-based conclusions about the disorder. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews vol. 128 (2021).
15. Cooper, R. E. et al. Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomised-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 27, 795–808 (2017).