Oppositional Defiant Disorder Overview
As its name indicates, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (also referred to as Oppositional Defiance Disorder or ODD) is a disorder characterized by anger, defiance, and negativity. Adolescents and teenagers who have Oppositional Defiant Disorder are prone to be destructive, belligerent, and physically violent.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder may begin to manifest in children as young as 7, and commonly surfaces by age 13; however, reaching the ages of 14 does not mean that a young person is now immune from developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Though Oppositional Defiant Disorder is more commonly diagnosed in boys, girls can develop this disorder.
It is important to understand that Oppositional Defiant Disorder is not a “phase” or a temporary period of adolescent moodiness. Young people who have Oppositional Defiant Disorder are unlikely to grow out of the disorder.
Left untreated, adolescents and teens who struggle with Oppositional Defiant Disorder may develop additional conduct disorders, may be at increased risk for developing an antisocial personality disorder, and are also at risk for depression, substance abuse, and a host of additional unhealthy behaviours.
Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
As is the case with depression, learning disabilities, and many other emotional and behavioural problems that affect adolescents and teenagers, Oppositional Defiant Disorder does not lend itself to quick diagnosis and one clear cause.
Mental health professionals and other experts attribute the development of Oppositional Defiant Disorder to a host of possible causes, including factors in the genetic, psychological, and social realms.
When considering if a child may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, it is important to also assess the child for disorders such as depression, panic/anxiety disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, and similar conditions. Students who have been struggling with these issues without the benefit of diagnosis or treatment may be much more likely to behave in a manner that resembles Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Students with Oppositional Defiant Disorder will exhibit many (or even all) of the following:
- Hostility toward peers, teachers, parents, and other family members
- Persistent negative or pessimistic attitude
- Refusal to obey orders or follow directions
- Aggression toward others (both verbal and physical aggression)
- Anger that can quickly boil over into a rage
- The propensity to be easily frustrated and to quickly blame others for personal failures
- Loss of most or all friendships
- Continuous problems in school and, eventually, with law enforcement officers
To meet the criteria for being categorized as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, adolescents and teenagers who exhibit these symptoms must do so for a period of at least six months — and the severity of these behaviours must be greater than “normal” adolescent angst or teen anger.
Conventional Treatments for ODD
While diet and lifestyle are incredibly important for children who suffer from ODD, the two main treatment regimes are psychotherapeutic and pharmacological. A popular evidence-based treatment is a type of behaviour therapy called parent-child interaction therapy. The parent and child work together through a set of exercises while a therapist coaches parents through an earbud. Parents learn to increase positive interactions with the child and to set consistent consequences for undesirable behaviour. Children learn to rein in behaviour and enjoy a more supportive relationship with parents.
While medicines are not specifically indicated for ODD, many children with ODD have co-occurring conditions such as ADHD. They may already be on medications for those other disorders. In addition, some children are so troubled by their own aggression, and their difficulties managing their painfully low frustration tolerance, that a clinician may recommend medication – like psychostimulants used to treat ADHD, to help them control those responses and benefit more from behaviour therapy.
What Role Can Medical Cannabis Play?
While no clinical studies exist for the treatment of ODD with medical cannabis, anecdotal evidence exists, none more so than the story of Debbie Jeffries and her journey to legally administer medical cannabis to her son, Jeffrey, who suffered from a myriad of behavioural conditions, including ODD. Debbie has documented their struggle in her book Jeffrey’s Journey, in which the most profound extract is the one sentence uttered by Jeffrey after receiving medical cannabis treatment: “Mommy, I feel happy, not angry, and my head doesn’t feel like a traffic jam”! The abridged version of Jeffrey’s Journey can be found on RX Marijuana.
Though Jeffrey is the most notable case where medical cannabis has assisted in the treatment of ODD and other behavioural conditions, Miranda, mother of Axle, shares her story with the world:
Miranda, the mother of Axle, shares that the conditions mentioned above are only some of the diagnoses her son has. The ones mentioned are the most difficult to handle. He has been in therapy since he was 2 years old (5 years). Part of the therapy, he sees a psychiatrist on a regular basis. He attends school and has an IEP.
Part of the process many parents go through, they try many different medications. She has tried this with him but didn’t see the results she hoped for.
It breaks her heart to see people look at her son differently and treat him different. He feels it and it hits him hard.
Even their family members treat him differently and get annoyed with him easily and quickly. This is the most painful scenario given it is family doing this too since they should be more understanding. She has tried so many things to help him fit in, calm down, and to cope with his condition.
She kept hitting a dead end.
Started CBD Oil
She started him on CBD Oil a month and a half ago. She noticed he doesn’t have as many meltdowns and he is starting to calm down and it is easier to calm him down. He also sleeps better with fewer nightmares. His behaviour with other children his age is improving while playing.
There are so much more that could be said that is improving and she is so happy with the results.
While there is no guarantee that all children will respond the same as the children mentioned in this article, it is a known fact that no pharmacological treatment exists to manage ODD. Cannabidiol (CBD), is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant, with little to no side-effects, both short- and long-term, and the results that parents have reposted in treating ADHD, ODD, ADD and ASD, has been encouraging and could pave the way for future clinical studies.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component found in the cannabis plant and is used by many parents worldwide to treat a myriad of conditions, including epilepsy, ADHD, ODD and other conditions in the ASD range. For more information on treating children with medical cannabis, please see our section on Children on our website.
Written by Lise Gatenby, July 2018
Disclaimer: Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary (MCDSA) aims to be a hub of information about medicinal cannabis, healthy living and the latest scientific research. Always consult your doctor before starting a new treatment.