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ADHD Background (Dopamine Deficiency):
I was diagnosed with ADHD at 15 after experiencing many years of behavioral issues at school, including an inability to concentrate, restlessness, muscle tension, short-term memory issues, and unprovoked irritability.
I began smoking weed at 13 and my usage increased very heavily until 17. I took a break until I was in my 20's, then I started smoking infrequently again, now I am in my mid 30's and have been smoking very regularly for the last 5 years. The last 5 years I have been smoking flowers almost everyday, taking lots of dabs, drinking THC drinks, eating THC edibles, etc. I have slowed down and stopped on a few occasions for different reasons, but overall smoke it quite a bit around my responsibilities.
Subjective Experiences and Impact to ADHD Symptoms (Motivation Included):
ADHD Daily Life (Untreated) -
My ADHD symptoms, untreated, make me feel like I am in a constant mental fog (not an unhappy one though). If something captures my interest enough I get extremely hyper-focused on it and can do some pretty amazing things. If I am not interested, I have ZERO motivation and it takes an enormous amount of self-discipline and awful headaches to make myself do the things that bore the living hell out of me, like small talk (especially), entertain the public school system, work a non-rewarding job, or entertain a college education curriculum lol. When people talk to me, it takes everything I have to focus on what they are saying and truly hear them.
I love people and this makes me extremely sad most of the time, I want to be engaging and cannot stop this fog from disrupting my focus. The regular intense effort to pay attention gives me headaches and makes me feel irritable for seemingly no reason. Getting belittled my whole life for my lack of focus and memory probably does not help either and has lead to anxiety issues too, awesome! Pretty common for us dopamine deficient folks as many people assume you are choosing this for some reason...I can think and bounce around ideas and formulate intriguing insights between multiple interesting topics and figure things out all while holding a conversation with someone, this happens automatically all day long and is exhausting.
I am happy and love my life, but this disease certainly gets in my way and causes long periods of depression every few years - relationships pretty much all get ruined because of it. It is rare I find a friend or partner who is compassionate towards this issue. They take my occasional irritability, lack of focus, and need for long periods of alone time personally and it sucks, really, really bad actually. However, taking legal meth is not an option I wish to engage with either, been there, done that, Adderall will ruin you after your tolerance builds up over for a long time, no thanks. Meditation, exercise, good diet, sunlight, Vitamin D/Iron, structured routine, and goal setting works just fine, thank you!
ADHD on THC (Smoking Regularly 3 - 5 x Day) -
Immediate relief from anxiety, muscle tension, and restlessness. I feel my focus and creativity is better as well. However, my motivation can look from the outside as reduced to a "socially unacceptable" level. In reality, after being on GO all the time, I really enjoy the relaxation from THC and sometimes like to chill out and make art, swim, hike, or do whatever at my own pace. I notice when people think I am being slow or taking my time too much, I just really do not care, most people are wired as hell on caffeine and my vibe is in my control. Does this mean I cannot or will not do what I need in life, absolutely not! THC has never stopped me from achieving my goals or doing what I know I need to do. Anxiety, depression, and untreated ADHD most certainly has a more dramatic effect on my motivation. If I smoke too much too often, I notice I get dependent on THC very quickly. What I mean is, my body already produces low amounts of dopamine. If I keep getting it from THC regularly, I always have pretty crappy and even worst ADHD symptoms between smoking sessions. If I stop smoking, the first 3 days are absolute garbage (irritability, headaches, insomnia, minor hot flashes), then I am fine - pretty mild overall, but worth mentioning as I cannot function to well at all in a social environment during that T-break :)
ADHD on THC (Smoking Nights or Weekends Only) -
If I smoke at night to relax or socially, I do okay, but even this amount causes me to have issues between sessions. I get immediate mild withdrawal symptoms (from reduced dopamine) only hours after smoking no matter the frequency. I believe this is more due to ADHD, but the lowered dopamine effect from regularly smoking on top of it can be a bit much to function effectively in society.
Motivation Summary -
For me, the THC has never got in the way of my motivation. I served in the military in one of the most technical fields available, earned honors in my training, earned honors in two leadership academies, earned several prestigious awards for physical fitness, went to war, obtained my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, earned several professional IT certifications, became a Satellite Communications Engineer for a major US broadcasting company while surpassing all of my peers in promotions 3 years in a row, received employee of the year from that company, changed careers, did Web Development for a few years, started my own company, and am almost done with my Master's of Information Systems degree. So, no I find it hard to believe that THC itself is making people unmotivated, but it may be plausible for those who are addicted or have dopamine issues already that THC usage needs to be monitored. We should not be pretending that THC is some kind of panacea. This drug or medicine, like any other, needs to be respected and its effects need to be objectively observed within each person.
Not much research is available on how weed affects people who have ADHD, especially people who have been diagnosed early on and have also been smoking since childhood. I hope sharing my experience can help anyone else with ADHD who uses cannabis. Just watch the dopamine effects and regulate usage, you will be fine, but you need to be real about any potential addiction signs, it can creep in quickly. Much love!
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