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April 02, 2007

What About ADD?

ADD is the acronym for ‘attention deficit disorder,’ a condition I learned was associated with use of marijuana only after I started screening people seeking pot ‘recommendations’ in 2001.  Those calling attention to ADD were usually males under twenty-five who’d either been treated with Ritalin in school or had it recommended to their parents following a medical evaluation which had typically been suggested by the principal at the urging of a teacher.

 However, the applicants themselves rarely mentioned their ADD history; quite the opposite, they tended to base their desire to use pot on common musculoskeletal conditions: sore backs, trick knees, or dislocating shoulders. Among computer users, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome were frequent. However, a common problem with those scenarios was that a careful history often revealed that the pain hadn’t started until well after the pot use had become chronic.

I’ve since learned that there are different patterns by which ‘ADD’ may become manifest and all are very likely expressions of anxiety in children, adolescents, or adults. I should also say that at this point, I don’t think of ADD as a ‘disease,’ but rather a behavioral pattern which, if intense, can easily become problematic for both those displaying it and those around them, particularly family and loved ones.
Fortunately, it can usually be improved by a combination of understanding and anxiolytic therapy; but optimization of such therapy on a large scale will require a more intelligent understanding by those attempting to treat it than is now the case

Although the behavior had been recognized as a discrete entity in Europe as long ago as the Nineteenth Century, its modern diagnosis and empirical treatment with stimulants were not introduced until the early Nineteen Seventies, when Paul Wender popularized it as ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’ and reported that the academic performances of a majority of children treated with Ritalin were improved. Unfortunately, ‘attention deficit’ has proven as much a misnomer as his suggested etiology, ‘minimal brain damage’ (MBD) was  mistaken.  In essence, no coherent theory addressing all of the syndrome's common features has been advanced.

 Nevertheless, there was a steady increase in cases being treated with Ritalin and other stimulants until the late Nineties, when they were estimated to have been prescribed for somewhere between three and six percent of  primary school children in some districts. Not surprisingly,  critics began alleging overtreatment, while defenders were claiming that ADD is still being under treated.

What I find particularly disturbing is that the lack of recognition of any possible medical benefits from cannabis in ADD is so clearly influenced by a drug policy dogma which  is also obscuring the anxiolytic benefits  inhaled cannabis has been providing to a now-accessible poulation of chronic users who seem to be more of an embarrassment to political supporters of medical use than potentially powerful evidence of the folly of an absurd policy.

Go figure....

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 2, 2007 06:47 AM