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Cannabis Withdrawal in Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Emeline Chauchard, PhD; Karen J. Hartwell, MD; Aimee L. McRae-Clark, PharmD; Brian J. Sherman, PhD; and David A. Gorelick, MD, PhD

Published: February 22, 2018

Article Abstract

Objective: Cannabis withdrawal has not been studied in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who have high rates of cannabis use. We aimed to describe cannabis withdrawal, motivations to quit, and strategies to quit cannabis use in cannabis-dependent adults with ADHD.

Methods: Twenty-three adults with ADHD enrolled in a controlled clinical trial of pharmacotherapy (atomoxetine) for cannabis dependence (DSM-IV criteria) completed the Marijuana Quit Questionnaire (MJQQ) to provide information on their "most serious" quit attempt made without formal treatment. The study was conducted between November 2005 and June 2008.

Results: Participants were predominantly male (82.6%, n = 19), with a mean (SD) age of 27.4 (8.5) years (range, 18-53) at the start of their index quit attempt. The most common motive for quitting cannabis was "to save money" (87%, n = 20); the most common strategy to maintain abstinence was "stopped associating with people who smoke marijuana" (43%, n = 10). Almost all (96%, n = 22) subjects reported 1 cannabis withdrawal symptom; 7 (30%) met DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for cannabis withdrawal syndrome.

Conclusions: Participants with comorbid ADHD and cannabis dependence reported withdrawal symptoms similar to other samples of non-treatment-seeking cannabis-dependent adults with no psychiatric comorbidity. These findings suggest that ADHD does not influence cannabis withdrawal in the way that it does tobacco (nicotine) withdrawal.

Trial Registration: Data used in this secondary analysis came from identifier: NCT00360269

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