Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Numbers of Young People Seeking Drug Treatment

The numbers of young people seeking drug treatment is the subject of some media interest.

The BBC (and again):

A record number of young people were treated for a drug problem last year.

Counsellors in England alone saw 52,294 people aged 13-24, a rise of 12% in two years, according to data from the National Treatment Agency (NTA).

The Mail:

Under-25s are now more likely to have a problem with alcohol mixed with ‘softer’ party drugs, a phenomenon drug workers call ACCE (pronounced ‘ace’) – alcohol plus cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy.

The number getting treatment for one or more of these drugs has risen a staggering 44 per cent, from 21,744 in 2005-06 to 31,401 in 2007-08.

Treatment for addiction to heroin and crack fell by 19 per cent over the same period, to 18,597.

The Sun:

There were 19 per cent fewer people getting help for abusing “hard” drugs heroin and crack, figures from the National Treatment Agency showed.

But the number of under-25s treated for alcohol, cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy problems went up 44 per cent.

The Mirror:

Manchester University’s Prof Howard Parker blames the ready availability and low cost of alcohol and party drugs.

He tells this week’s show: “Put those together and you’ve got just as serious a problem for health, family life and society as heroin.”

Channel 4:

Officials from the NTA told the [BBC] programme that the overall rise in treatment over the past three years does not necessarily mean a record number of young people are abusing drugs and alcohol.

What isn’t clear from the coverage is whether these represent different figures from the ones the NTA reported earlier this year and which we covered in March.  That’s difficult to tell because the BBC’s figures are for under 25 year olds and the NTA report is for under 18s.

Update: The NTA have a press release which gives a bit more detail:

  • The main drugs those aged 13-18 are being treated for are alcohol and/or cannabis; for 19-24 year olds it is heroin/opiates followed by cannabis and then cocaine; and for 25-30 year olds, heroin/opiates are the most common substances people in that age range are being treated for.
  • Addiction to Class A drugs is rare amongst under-18 year olds in particular. Of the 23,905 under-18s being treated for substance misuse in England in 2007/08, just over 1,600 were for heroin/opiates (3%), cocaine (3%) and crack (less than 1%) as the main drug misuse and they received specialist treatment support.
  • There is a marked increase in the number of 19 to 24 year olds being treated for cocaine, which then decreases for the 25 to 30 year old age group. The NTA believes the most likely explanation is that this reflects patterns of drug use.

So it looks like the story is pretty much built on the figures the NTA produced in their report on young people’s treatment supplimented by the details for young adults.

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Filed under: treatment

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