Surge in ‘pothead’ over 60s trying to quit the habit as the number receiving NHS treatment nearly doubles

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Surge in ‘pothead’ over-60s trying to get rid of the habit as the number receiving NHS treatment for cannabis addiction more than doubles in eight years

  • 1,007 of the over-60s underwent NHS treatment for cannabis addiction in 2020
  • The number more than doubled in eight years when the number was 450
  • Experts fear many may have dabbled in the 1960s but are now addicted to stronger drugs

The number of ‘potheads’ of people over 60 receiving NHS treatment for cannabis addiction has more than doubled in eight years, figures show.

A record number of 1,007 people in this age group sought help to overcome their addiction in 2020 – compared to 450 in 2013.

Experts warn that many in the Swinging Sixties were dealing with weed, but became addicted to stronger skunk sold by dealers today.

This contains higher levels of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It gives users a better high, but is more likely to lead to schizophrenia, anxiety, insomnia and depression when used regularly.

Of those who received assistance in 2020, 318 began treatment that year, data from Public Health England shows.

A record number of 1,007 people in this age group sought help to break their habit in 2020, compared to 450 in 2013.

A record number of 1,007 people in this age group sought help to overcome their addiction in 2020 – compared to 450 in 2013.

This compared to 80 patients in the same age group who sought help for cocaine addiction and 33 for amphetamines.

Separate figures from the NHS show that the number of people over 60 hospitalized for psychological problems related to cannabis has nearly tripled in five years – from 652 in 2016 to 1,748 in 2020. Six people over the age of 90 were among the last.

Mary Brett, of Cannabis Skunk Sense, a drug prevention charity, said: “Unfortunately, the true harms of cannabis have never been fully disclosed.

“The potency of cannabis, in its THC content, has gradually increased over the years from about 2 to 3 percent in the 1960s and 1970s to about 16 percent today, and more and more damage has been done.”

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards spoke in 2015 about being unable to get rid of his cannabis addiction. The 77-year-old admitted: ‘I smoke a joint in the early morning regularly. Strictly Californian. ‘

Richards had quit heroin in 1978 after his fifth arrest and stopped using cocaine in 2006 after falling from a tree in Fiji, requiring brain surgery.

Nuno Albuquerque, from the leading cannabis practitioner UKAT, said: ‘What this data shows is that there are more people over 60 who come up and ask for help, but what it doesn’t show is how many more’ senior ‘cannabis users which we still worry about.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (pictured) spoke in 2015 about being unable to overcome his cannabis addiction

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (pictured) spoke in 2015 about being unable to overcome his cannabis addiction

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (pictured) spoke in 2015 about being unable to overcome his cannabis addiction

The majority of people we treat in their 60s tend to suffer from significant mental health problems as well, as psychoactive compounds in the drug can increase dopamine levels in the brain.

“Those prone to anxiety, paranoia and even psychosis may experience exacerbated symptoms as a result of cannabis use.”

It follows London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement that he plans to investigate the decriminalization of the Class B drug when he is re-elected on May 6.

But Boris Johnson’s spokesman said, “Illegal drugs are wrecking lives and he has absolutely no intention of legalizing cannabis.”

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