Medical cannabis patient, Jack Pierce, explains how the treatment helps him cope with some of the challenges brought on by autism and ADHD.
As a medical cannabis patient, currently prescribed by a private clinic in the UK, I’m often asked about which strains I medicate with and how they help me manage my conditions.
I am diagnosed with a variety of conditions which consist of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ADHD, chronic anxiety and depression.
Having to deal with all these conditions can feel like a never-ending battle which does take its toll, but thankfully I have found cannabis to be particularly helpful.
I am currently prescribed a hybrid flower for morning and daytime usage with a high THC (22:0) strain for the evening and night time.
The high level of THC within this flower helps manage the comorbidities attached to my autism.
These problems present themselves in a variety of ways and are often hard to control.
I have problems concentrating and engaging in tasks from the moment I wake up. I often feel a persistent sense of overwhelm which does not seem to pass, and in these moments, I find comfort in my “stims” and wish to retreat to my safe place.
However, when I am able to medicate with cannabis, this feeling decreases.
Throughout the medication process, I feel a sense of reassurance flow over my mind and body, which helps to drastically reduce the stress and worries.
The flower provides me with the ability to partake in tasks and activities at my own pace. I have often found that once I have medicated, my concentration levels increase, alongside the desire to be creative and productive.
It also assists enormously in combating some of the additional challenges presented by my autism.
Cannabis provides a considerable reduction in my anxiety, stress, and depression, therefore improving my productivity and positivity for the day ahead.
It also provides me with the ability to control my “stims” in times of stress, whilst keeping my movement slow enough to not be considered strange or erratic to those around me.
As I move throughout the day towards the evening hours, I can often feel tense and withdrawn and struggle more with communication and social activities. As a result of this, I retreat to my “safe place” – where I feel most calm.
During the evening hours, I find I have fleeting thoughts which flood my mind like those boarding a train at home time.
I struggle to slow down in these moments and this affects my ability to sleep and rest in the way most can.
Once I have medicated with the high-THC flower, my levels of anxiety reduce considerably and I gain the ability to control my “stims” and calm myself enough to fall asleep.
The flower I’m prescribed is an indica strain, which leads to a strong sedated feeling, perfect for those moments when I need to slow down and allow my mind and body to settle. However, I only consume this in the evening as it provides a sedative effect, which I use to tackle insomnia.
Alongside using cannabis, I also manage my ADHD symptoms with a medication known as Elvanse/Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine). Both are schedule two medications and must be monitored carefully.
The medications work together in tandem to help assist in making my life and conditions more endurable.
My ADHD happens to present itself in a variety of destructive, disruptive, and overwhelming states. I greatly struggle in areas revolving around tasks, work, and typical social interactions, such as holding conversations and building relationships.
My attention span and focus without the assistance of my medications is a battle in itself and can leave me flitting in between tasks erratically.
I have great difficulty managing my moods , anxiety, and emotional needs, as my brain floods with thoughts and feelings most would not have to experience.
I have also found that I greatly overshare my thoughts, past experiences and feelings, which all can impact my social and work life as often topics are either not understood or appear confusing when spoken about in such a setting.
I can appear rude or disconnected at parties, as my use of vocabulary may appear short or stubborn during times of stress, Thus, resulting in further conflict and challenges I do not feel equipped to deal with.
The above experiences are only a small summary of the events I have to mitigate daily. Other symptoms such as body tics and speech difficulties are also attached to ADHD, but with the assistance of medication the battle is eased.
From using both medical cannabis and Elvanse, I have found there to be no adverse interactions and only further improvements.
I have found that cannabis medication provides a considerable reduction in the anxiety that is presented shortly after the consumption of Elvanse. The cannabis in this moment also assists in loosening the tightness of the chest and rapid heart rate which can be caused by ADHD medication.
From using several cannabis medications, I have found that higher THC strains provide greater assistance in combating kidney and back pain which can be a result of a lack of hydration and filtration of medications.
When I consume cannabis, I feel my thoughts calm down to an appropriate speed, the brain fog is reduced, and I feel I have greater control. In these moments I am able to manage tasks and thought processes much more effectively.
Cannabis assists in the tics and speech problems in unison with the Elvanse, as a result of the slow release and small dosage.
Without cannabis I feel I would not be able to achieve sleep. Many adults with ADHD suffer from insomnia, not just as a symptom but as a side effect of Elvanse due to it being a stimulant. The sedative flowers such as Pink Kush and LA confidential have been most beneficial in this area.
Cannabis, if strong enough, can mitigate and manage most of my ADHD symptoms, although the medications currently accessible in the UK do not meet this standard and cannot be used on their own.
That said, cannabis can be significantly helpful in combating some of the symptoms of ADHD and autism and I hope to raise awareness of this, so more adults know it is an option.