A leading charity has called for Spice to be reclassified as a class-A drug.

The synthetic cannabinoid is currently classed as a New Psychoactive Substance (NPS), which means it has been illegal to produce or supply it since May last year. Before the change in the law, it was considered to be a ‘legal high’ and could be bought both over the internet and in shops.

Home Office statistics show that 244,000 people aged between 16 and 59 used an NPS during 2015. And Spice can cause users to hallucinate, feel suicidal and become violent.

The charity Addiction Helper, which offers advice for those affected by drug and alcohol misuse, wants more to be done to address the use of Spice. The organisation says it has seen a 50 per cent rise in the number of people dependent on the substance over the last year.

Addiction Helper’s founder Daniel Gerrard said he believed referring to substances like Spice as legal highs had made them seem acceptable to many people.

Reclassification could deter users

He told the BBC: “Illegal Highs like Spice should be classed as Category A Drugs in order to educate those using and those thinking of trying for the first time that extremely serious consequences are attached with this drug.

“My experience with those addicted to Spice is that they can be very volatile and present with mental health issues, often without mental health being an issue prior to using Spice. The fact of the matter is that more and more addicts are dying and the addiction problem continues to rise.”

Addiction Helper has seen a 20 per cent rise in calls relating to NPS use in the first three months of this year alone. Eight out of 10 people who have contacted them about an addiction to Spice are based in the North of England where the substance appears to be readily available from dealers.

AlphaBiolabs offers drug testing services which can help identify individuals with a substance misuse problem. A positive test result can be the first step to someone being offered support and treatment to overcome an addiction.