UK

Cannabis-Loving Teenager And Her Mum Blow £30,000 Of Benefits On Drug Habit

15/07/2014 14:58 BST | Updated 15/07/2014 14:59 BST

A shameless mother and daughter today admitted to blowing £30,000 of their benefits on cannabis.

Unemployed Bethany Burnett was just 16 when she became hooked on the class B drug and blows up to £30-a-day on her habit.

Over the course of three years she has wasted £30,000 on the drug - all funded by her mum Marie's child benefits and her own Job Seeker's Allowance.

drugs

Bethany Burnett with her mum Marie

Just two weeks ago Bethany was rushed to hospital after smoking cannabis through a bong and collapsing when her heart rate sky-rocketed.

She has now been referred to a psychiatrist and is taking a concoction of daily medication to help beat the addiction.

Bethany, 19, from Grangetown, Middlesbrough, has now spoken out to warn other youngsters of the dangers of cannabis.

She said: "I would have done anything to get my hands on cannabis.

"Waking up in the morning it was the first thing I thought about. I was desperate for cash to buy drugs. I'd use my JSA to buy cannabis every week.

"As well as asking my grandmother and great-grandmother for money to splash out on the drug, I would trash my mum's house if she didn't give me £10 a day from her benefits to buy cannabis."

Bethany's addiction started at 16 when she was began hanging around with a bad crowd at school and began smoking the drug to fit in.

But unlike her peers, soon Bethany's addiction spiralled out of control and she would smoke weed constantly throughout the day.

At her worst she was spending £30 a day on the habit, funded by the £57.35 a week she received in job seekers allowance (JSA).

She would also turn to her mother for help, who would dip into her £115 child benefits, £34 child tax credits and £40 a week housing benefits.

Initially Maria, 35, thought the money was being used to pay electricity bills but she soon realised around £80 a week of her cash was partially funding her daughter's habit.

cannabis

Maria, who has two other children, said: "I was really strapped for cash because I was on benefits myself and Natasha kept asking me for money to buy food or to pay her house bills.

"I knew she was smoking weed but at first I didn't twig that she was using my benefits money to buy it.

"But when she started becoming addicted I had my suspicions, she was really paranoid and dropped so much weight.

"I tried to put my foot down and stop giving her cash handouts but if I didn't give her the cash she would go crazy."

Bethany's habit soon took its toll and she began suffering from anxiety attacks so severe she dropped out of college and refused to leave the house as she thought she was being watched.

Her weight also plummeted from 13 stone to just eight in a matter of months.

cannabis

Just two weeks ago Maria found her daughter unconscious after overdosing on cannabis.

Bethany was rushed to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesborough where she had an anxiety attack and a mental breakdown.

After staying in hospital overnight, she was released and is now seeing a psychiatrist as well as taking diazepam to control her anxiety.

She will now have to take anti-depressants for the rest of her life.

Bethany, who now lives with her partner Tarl Rowbotham, 30, said: "I wish I'd never wasted all my money on the drugs.

"I would get up and raid the house for my mum's benefits money just to buy my next joint. I stopped eating and was sick and crying all of the time. It was ruining my life."

Bethany's shocking tale comes just days after it was revealed that a record number of under-18s are now being treated for cannabis addiction.

According to the latest figures by Public Health England, more than 13,500 youngsters under the age of 18 were sent for medical treatment last year for cannabis related issues.

While just last month, Nick Clegg backed a report which suggests governments should consider the legalisation of cannabis - which is the most widely used drug in Britain.

Bethany added: "Cannabis should never be made legal, it is addictive and it nearly killed me.

"People see it has a soft drug, but young teens need to be aware that it can take over your life."