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Record Numbers Of Youngsters Receiving Treatment For Drugs And Alcohol


Friday, February 13th, 2009 Record Numbers Of Youngsters Receiving Treatment For Drugs And Alcohol

What is happening to the youth of today? and the question is not intended to sound disparaging. With reference to a recent Article in the Telegraph by Rebecca Smith (22 01 09). According to the report there has been a significant increase in the amount of children receiveing specialist treatment. In the years 2005/6- 17,000 were being treated, that is now up to 23,900 on the 2007/8 figures.

Hitherto, experts are saying that the increase is largely due to the increase of services as opposed to increases in addiction. Moreover it is also being suggested that actual numbers of children experimenting with drink and drugs is actually coming down. From that point of view, the figures do seem somewhat more encouraging, children are now able to take more objective control back into their lives by accessing help.

Nevertheless, these figures also suggest that something in society as a whole is terriby wrong for so many youngsters to be in this incidious position in the first place.

In analysing the article, the report argues in relation to the above figures, is that just over half were treated for cannabis use and over a third for alcohol use. Three per cent of 1,600 young people were treated for heroin or opiates, three per cent for cocaine and less than one per cent for crack.

More specifically, the report highlighted data from NHS Information Centre which said last year a quarter of young people said they had tried a substance, down from 29 per cent in 2001. The proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds who said they have never drunk alcohol increased from 39 per cent in 2001 to 46 per cent in 2007.

Encouragingly, the majority who seeked help received psychosocial ‘talking’ therapy and 57 per cent complete their course successfully.

The director for the National Treatment Agency, Rosanna O’Connor says, “Young people’s treatment services in England have achieved excellent results for young people under 18, their families and communities.

“Young people receiving substance misuse interventions cannot be described as addicts in the same way as adults in treatment are, but are vulnerable to lives damaged by drugs and future dependence if they are not provided with relevant interventions early enough.”

However, Chief Executive of the charity DrugScope Martin Barnes states, “It is clearly of concern when any young person faces problems with drugs or alcohol.

“While we cannot be complacent, a number of independent data sources do suggest that the use of drugs and alcohol among young people is in decline, particularly the use of cannabis, which has shown an overall downward trend since 2001.

“We know that, unfortunately, a minority of young people will need help to overcome problems with drugs or alcohol, and to get to grips with other problems that may have led them to use substances in the first place. Whenever a young person does need help, it is vital that they are able to access age-appropriate support, in their local area, within as short a time as possible. It is encouraging that majority of young people in need of help accessed services within three weeks of referral.”

The schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said, “Data shows that drug and alcohol misuse by young people is falling. This is encouraging news but sadly there are still far too many young people who get into trouble with drugs, drinking and other risky behaviour. It is vital that early intervention services help young people to prevent their problems escalating.

”In the Drug Strategy, we committed to continue to improve the quality and accessibility of these services, supported by £24.7m of funding in 2009-10. I want to make sure that treatment services for under-18s reduce the harm caused by substance misuse, improve the life chances of each young person and prevent escalation into more serious drug use in later life.”

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