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Zebra Stripes for ADHD
A monthly newsletter of stories tips and news for those concerned with ADHD, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, No. 30
Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach
Joey Discovers Marijuana
Joey's Mom was waiting at the school when Sammy and Koko, Joey's zebra friends, came out. "Sammy, Koko do you know where Joey is?", she asked. "Don't" know. Haven't seen him for a while," replied Sammy. "He's been acting strange recently," Koko added. "He disappears after school, and I don't know where he gets to. I tried to talk to him and he just mumbled something and wandered off." "Sammy and Koko could I speak with you for a minute," Miss Zebrette, their teacher called. "I'm very worried about Joey.. Do you know where he goes after school?" "No, Miss Zebrette," replied Koko. "We were just talking about him. He doesn't talk to us anymore. he doesn't join the football game and we need him." "He started the year so well," said Miss Zebrette. "He was more focused and engaged, but now he seems to be more withdrawn and anxious than I've ever known him and his work has just gone right down. Could you two help me find him?" "We'll sure try Miss Zebrette, " replied Koko. When Miss Zebrette had left. They looked at each other. "So what do we do now?" they said in unison. "Let's start asking if anybody has seen where he goes." Late afternoon the local inhabitants were all down at the lake to drink and socialize. Koko and Sammy talked to Chip and Chap, their monkey friends, Mr. Rumbo, the elephant, Mama Giraffe and Madame Tamu, the hippopotamus. No one had seen Joey, but they all agreed to help. The next day after school, all the friends were in position around the school grounds to see in what direction he went. Mr. Rumbo was browsing in a grove of banyan trees behind the school grounds. He saw Joey slip away alone and duck quickly behind a rock outcropping and head toward the dark woods, a treacherous area usually avoided by the local denizens. Mr. Rumbo followed Joey at a distance, wondering why he was going in that direction. Joey crossed a low ridge and descended into a narrow sparsely wooded valley with lush greenery growing in the open spaces. Joey started grazing on the strange plants. Mr. Rumbo approached on tip-toe. He sniffed the greenery, took some in his trunk and nibbled a tuft, and immediately spat it out. "Joey, do you know what you are eating? You should have learned about it in school. And why have you come out here alone. It's very dangerous here. There are lions and hyenas." Joey jumped, startled to find Mr. Rumbo beside him, "Nah, there aren't any lions. They won't get me anyway. This is really good stuff, I feel great. Have some." "Joey, this is marijuana you're eating. I had a distant cousin who became very addicted to marijuana and spent a year in rehab." "What's rehab? I'm not sick. It's great here. I feel calm- like I never been before. Try it." "Joey, no one else thinks you're fine. Your friends are missing you. You're Mom is very worried about you. Miss Zebrette says your work has really slipped in school." "Yea, but Mr. Rumbo, you don't know how I feel. I always feel like a failure. Even if I get something right, it's just luck until the next time it's wrong. But now I feel whole. I feel that my brain is connected. I've got some great ideas buzzing around in my brain, and now I'm going to see what I can do with them." Joey turned and galloped away. (To be continued)
How did I get started on marijuana? Well, I was looking at some posts in an ADHD forum and found one recommending marijuana to help calm a restless brain. Whoa, I thought, is that a good idea? Marijuana connects with the same receptors as does Ritalin and yes it is supposed to have a calming effect. It is also addictive.
When I googled marijuana and ADHD I found a lot of entries. Some speaking very authoritatively about the dangers of marijuana, but a number were reporting positive experiences with more effective control of ADHD than with Ritalin or Aderall and a frequently stated belief that it is not addictive, does not cause brain damage and of course is natural.
Many people even many with ADHD can take a drink or smoke a joint and then carry on with their lives. But for others especially those with ADHD, like Joey, the drink or the pot fills a deep need which they are driven to satisfy. When the need becomes a compulsion it takes over their lives to the exclusion of family and job- then it is substance abuse.
The danger for people with ADHD is that the substance whether it be tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs is that it satisfies a need for focus and calm. It scratches that internal itchiness and feeling of dissatisfaction which is characteristic of ADHD and it quickly becomes a psychological need.
Drs. Hallowell and Ratey in their book "Answers to Distraction" consider marijuana the most dangerous substance by far for a person with ADHD. Just one experience can lead to psychological addiction.
"It creates a calmness with a heightened sense of adventure- all within the brain. One of the true delights for ADD people is to play with their thoughts and their ideas and build intense and intricate fantasies. Marijuana accentuates the zaniness and doubles the intensity, all within the backdrop of serenity....The irony is that marijuana makes ADD symptoms worse. It makes you more distractible, worsens your memory, increases the tendency to procrastinate, and decreases motivation." p.267
To learn more read Wendy Richardson's "The Link Between A.D.D. & Addiction, Getting the Help You Deserve."
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