A debate about cannabis addiction was sparked recently when leading drugs expert, Doctor Adam Winstock, claimed that cannabis addicts are being let down because too much emphasis is placed on helping people with Class A dependencies. Port of Call investigates further.
When Dr Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey (the world’s biggest drug poll) recently stated that cannabis addicts were effectively being pushed down the pecking order for treatment by cases of ‘harder’ drug use, BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat team reported extensively on the matter. For many, the insights that they gleaned, from recovering cannabis addicts, will have come as a genuine shock.
Addiction is a loss of control
As we’ve mentioned before, studies have shown that cannabis ranks relatively low on the addictive drug list. Below alcohol and nicotine in fact in terms of developing a physical dependency. Around ten per cent of people who use cannabis, two-thirds which will experience serious withdrawal symptoms when they come off the drug, according to Dr Winstock.
“We haven’t invested enough in helping people who use cannabis use more safely – or stop,” Doctor Adam Winstock told Newsbeat. “I don’t think people with problems with cannabis have easy access to services,” he added.
“I think people get confused with physical withdrawal symptoms and equating those to being addicted,” he continued. “Addiction for me is a loss of control and when you stop you feel uncomfortable. [It] could be you feel miserable, you can’t sleep, you lose your appetite or it can be very physical as it is with heroin or alcohol.”
Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in the UK. However, whilst the number of users are falling, there has been a marked increase in people coming forward to seek help with addiction. This is being attributed to stronger strains of cannabis and a greater likelihood that users will admit they have a problem.
According to Newsbeat, 3,328 of 18 to 24-year-olds in England sought treatment for cannabis in 2005. This had risen to 4,997 by 2013/14 and and now apparently accounts for nearly half of all new drug treatment cases.
Inside Marijuana Anonymous
Among those addicts who south out help are members of 12-step support group, Marijuana Anonymous (MA). Newsbeat spoke to several MA members who explained how their addiction to cannabis had completely taken over their lives.
“I would sit willing myself not to smoke even as I rolled a joint. My brain said no but my hands kept rolling and smoking, said 25-year-old ‘John’. “I have a hole inside me that I tried to fill. Weed fit the hole. Now I fill that with MA.”
Another MA recovering addict, Lee, 23, told a similar story. He said: “Physically it drained me, it made me very unhealthy. I was a broken man. I wasn’t eating and I was just over five-and-a-half stone. I would smoke before work, during work, after work, I would lie to people just so I could be on my own smoking.”
Port of Call takes cannabis addiction seriously
Port of Call founder, Martin Preston, said: “The so-called drug ‘dependency rating’ can lull some people into a false sense of security that they can smoke cannabis without the fear of becoming addicted. But the fact of the matter is that heavy marijuana users can experience serious withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop.
“At Port of Call we take cannabis addiction as seriously as any other addiction that we encounter. We have access to a considerable network of drug rehab centres and specialist clinicians for anyone who is looking for help and support to overcome their addiction.
“If you feel as though cannabis is taking over your life, and is having a negative impact on your life at home, work, or on any of your relationships, we would urge you to contact us today to see how Port of Call help help navigate you towards recovery.”
Contact Port of Call now to find out more about our Addiction Support services, including rehab. Please call free and confidential today on 08000029010.