Study Suggests Pot Is Better ADHD Treatment Than Adderall

By McCarton Ackerman 12/09/15

Most of the participants chose to stick with weed over pharmaceutical stimulants.

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Millions of Americans are prescribed Adderall to help treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but a recent study suggests that marijuana could be a safer and more effective treatment for ADHD.

The findings came out of Germany and were presented at an international symposium on cannabinoid therapeutics. Researchers collected data on 30 patients with diagnosed ADHD, none of whom had experienced significant improvements with Adderall or Ritalin. German law allows those who don’t find success with government-approved medications to submit an application to use medical cannabis with the country’s Health Ministry.

All 30 participants reported “improved concentration and sleep” and “reduced impulsivity” following the conclusion of their treatment cycle. Afterwards, 22 of the 30 participants opted to continue using cannabis to treat their ADHD symptoms.

These results are particularly noteworthy due to the well-documented dangers of Adderall and other similar drugs. Emergency room visits related to ADHD stimulants tripled between 2005 and 2010, from 5,212 visits to 15,585 visits. But in many of these cases, the hospital trips weren’t caused by using ADHD drugs as a study aid. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 90% of college who use ADHD drugs without a prescription almost admitted to binge drinking and that one-third reported taking these stimulants to “stay awake to party.”

Using ADHD drugs without a prescription is a trend that continues to rise. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that 7.6% of high school seniors use Adderall without a doctor's approval in 2012, up from 5.4% in 2009. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that more than 1.2 million Americans ages 12 and older are using stimulants non-medically.

Even getting a prescription doesn’t necessarily indicate a true need for ADHD. A 2010 study from the University of Kentucky found that some college students could get an ADHD diagnosis after spending just five minutes looking up common symptoms on Google.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.