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How to help cannabis addicts – is enough being done?

In this blog, drug rehab advice experts, Port of Call explores recent suggestions that cannabis addicts are being let down, as resources are focussed on Class A dependencies instead. These are the claims of Global Drug Survey founder, Dr Adam Winstock, who’s views we explore here in greater depth. 

Why is cannabis bad for you?

A recent study by Dr Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey (the world’s biggest drug poll), recently highlighted how people addicted to cannabis were not being prioritised as much as those dealing with ‘harder’ drug use. Although cannabis does not rank highly on the addictive scale, its is still important to understand some of the tell-tale signs of ‘cannabis abuse disorder’ when helping someone with a cannabis addiction.

Helping Someone with a Cannabis Addiction


Just what is cannabis abuse disorder (or cannabis dependence)? Well, sustained cannabis abuse can cause some of the following issues:

  • Cannabis can prompt you to argue with your loved ones.
  • The ‘high’ feeling you get when taking cannabis can turn into a safety blanket in times of desperation and vulnerability.
  • Your responsibilities may come second to your need to have cannabis, causing neglect to children or work/school responsibilities.
  • You can feel irritable when not taking cannabis.
  • You might experience night sweats or feelings of anxiety.

How to help a cannabis addict?

Around ten per cent of people use cannabis, two-thirds of whom 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.

“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 now apparently accounts for nearly half of all new drug treatment cases.

Helping someone with cannabis addiction

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. When it comes to how to help a cannabis addict, we have access to a considerable network of 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.”

If you are addicted to cannabis, or are helping someone with cannabis addiction, make us your first Port of Call. Call us free today on 08000029010 to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through and can help you to find the right help at the right time. Alternatively, you can email us at help@portofcall.com. We can also answer any questions you may have about ‘free’ and NHS rehab.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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