People who are addicted to cannabis are being neglected as support focuses too much on those who use Class A drugs, an expert has claimed.

The founder of the Global Drug Survey, Adam Winstock, has said it can be just as difficult for addicts to give up cannabis as heroin. However, he believes cannabis addiction is not taken as seriously so there is less help available for those wanting to kick the habit.

Dr Winstock, who is a consultant psychiatrist specialising in addiction at Kings College, London, told BBC’s Newsbeat: “We haven’t invested enough in helping people who use cannabis use more safely or stop. I don’t think people with problems with cannabis have easy access to services.”

He said over the last two decades drug support services have focussed on heroin and crack cocaine as they are seen as having a stronger link to crime and antisocial behaviour.

Despite cannabis use falling across the UK, more people are seeking help for addiction to the Class B drug.
Ten years ago in 2005, 3,328 people aged 18 to 24 asked for treatment for cannabis addiction. By 2013/14, this figure had risen to 4,997.

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Cannabis is often seen by young people as safer and less risky than other illegal substances. But repeated use can cause paranoia, short term memory loss and irritability.

It also increases the risk of developing schizophrenia, especially if cannabis use starts before the age of 18.

Worried parents who think their teenage son or daughter may be using cannabis may find it hard to trust their child if they deny using the drug or claim to have stopped. AlphaBiolabs offer a simple and accurate drugs test, which can be ordered online and will allow parents to get a clear picture of whether drugs have been taken.

The UK-based laboratory offers hair strand testing which tests for drug use over a longer period of time than blood or urine tests. This will allow you to find out whether illegal substances have been used occasionally or regularly over several months.

Using a drugs test can give people the information they need to seek the right support for a friend or family member. Giving up cannabis can be difficult, with more than half of addicts suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms after stopping the drug.

Dr Winstock said: “Some people become violent, some young people can’t sleep and get very irritable.”