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A meta-analysis exploring the relationship between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cannabis consumption found that 27% of individuals with ADHD develop cannabis use disorder at some point in their lives, with 19% suffering from it at the time of data collection. Compared to those without this disorder, individuals with ADHD face almost three times the risk of developing cannabis use disorder. This study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Cannabis, commonly referred to as marijuana, is a psychoactive plant utilized for medicinal, recreational, and spiritual purposes. It contains cannabinoids, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the primary psychoactive component, responsible for the euphoric “high” associated with its use. Various consumption methods include smoking, vaporizing, ingestion through edibles, and use of oils or extracts.

Studies indicate that approximately 4% of individuals aged 15 to 65 use cannabis for non-medical reasons, with the highest usage rates in higher-income countries. In recent years, many countries have decriminalized cannabis products and liberalized their usage, coinciding with a 23% increase in cannabis users from 2010 to 2020.

Research suggests that frequent cannabis use can lead to impaired cognitive performance, mental health issues, lower educational attainment, unemployment, and a higher risk of various mental health disorders, including cannabis use disorder. This condition is characterized by a strong desire to use cannabis, difficulty controlling its use, prioritizing cannabis above all other activities and responsibilities, and continuing its use despite adverse consequences.

In their new study, Anna M. Froude and her colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to investigate how common cannabis use disorder is among individuals with ADHD and to examine variations in estimates across different studies. ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder, manifests through persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that disrupt functioning or development.

The researchers reviewed scientific databases for studies involving individuals with ADHD and cannabis use. The initial search yielded 1,279 articles; however, only 14 contained the comprehensive data needed. Of these, seven estimated the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use disorder, and four provided comparisons with individuals without ADHD.

Eight studies reported current prevalence rates of cannabis use disorder, with seven offering comparisons to individuals without ADHD. A majority (64%) of these studies originated from North America. The average age of participants with ADHD was 26 years, and 35% were females. The sample primarily consisted of adults (86%), with the remaining 14% including both adolescents and adults.

One outlier study reported an exceptionally high percentage of individuals with ADHD affected by cannabis use disorder—86%. Due to this anomalously high figure and other issues, this study was excluded from the meta-analysis.

The analysis of the remaining studies revealed that the prevalence of cannabis use disorder among individuals with ADHD ranged from 12% to 49%, with an average of 27%. The current prevalence ranged from 6% to 39%, averaging 19%. When compared to the general population, individuals with ADHD are nearly three times more likely to suffer from cannabis use disorder, either currently or at some point in their lives.

“Our meta-analysis underscores the extensive heterogeneity present within existing CUD [cannabis use disorder] in ADHD literature. This degree of heterogeneity is typical of epidemiological meta-analyses dealing with comorbidity, revealing where further investigation is needed to gain a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between ADHD and CUD,” the study authors concluded.

The study provides valuable information about the prevalence of cannabis use disorder among individuals with ADHD. However, it also has limitations that need to be taken into account. Notably, most of the studies included in this meta-analysis were conducted in North America. The prevalence of cannabis use disorder in other areas of the world might be different.

The paper, “The Prevalence of Cannabis Use Disorder in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Clinical Epidemiological Meta-Analysis,” was authored by Anna M. Froude, Emily J. Fawcett, Ashlee Coles, Dalainey H. Drakes, Nick Harris, and Jonathan M. Fawcett.

Do you think you may suffer from ADHD and live in Florida, California or New York?

If so, please consider scheduling a proper virtual online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis with one of our physicians. Although we have an online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis tool, a proper diagnosis from a Board-Certified Medical Doctor will help you know for sure. If appropriate, a customized treatment program will be recommended at the conclusion of that initial visit.

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