A charity has claimed that people with ADHD are turning to illegal cannabis due to a lack of access to treatment and support from the NHS.

People are opting for "private" options or self-medicating "because when you're deprived by the NHS of good choices, you make bad choices," Henry Shelford, chief executive of ADHD UK said.

Mr Shelford - who has the neurological condition himself - said: "The options of formal medication are years away ... and you need to survive in that time.

"It's supposed to be a target of 18 weeks! It is laughable - people are waiting years."

The lengthy appointment waits - sometimes up to five years - are in part due to the sharp rise in referrals.

The ADHD Foundation report a 400% increase in the number of adults seeking a diagnosis since 2020.

Symptoms in adults

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail.
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones.
  • poor organisational skills.
  • inability to focus or prioritise.
  • continually losing or misplacing things.
  • forgetfulness.
  • restlessness and edginess.
  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn

According to ADHD UK, 2.6 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with ADHD.

An additional two million people are thought to be living with the condition - without a diagnosis - due to mistreatment and misdiagnosis by medical professionals.

Jon Robson, founder of medical cannabis business MaMedica which supplies Kris, told Sky News that businesses like his are "plugging a gap" the NHS is failing to provide - a "last resort" for those who are simply desperate for relief.

"What we've seen is an increase in demand from patients who suffer from psychiatry conditions, who are feeding back that the medication we're prescribing is helping them come off traditional medications - which sometimes can cause side effects," he said.

"[Cannabis] is aiding them in living a more normal life."

A government spokesperson said: "We know how vital it is to have timely diagnoses for ADHD, and we are committed to improving access to treatment and support following a diagnosis.

"The NHS Long Term Plan commits an additional £2.3bn a year for the expansion and transformation of mental health services in England by March 2024 so that an additional two million people can get the NHS-funded mental health support that they need.

"While specialist clinicians can prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use, cannabis does remain controlled under Class B of the Misuse of Drugs Act."