Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Treatment Figures for Children in England

A number of the papers are reporting figures on children and young people’s drug treatment.

The Metro says:

figures, from the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, show 11,294 under-16s were receiving help for addictions.

Of those, 4,005 – 57 of whom were under 12 – were treated for alcoholism.

A further 232 were being treated for cocaine misuse, 36 for crack, 165 for ecstasy and 93 – including ten under the age of 12 – for heroin addiction.

There were also 22 under-12s who were treated for solvent abuse.

The Daily Mail says the figures come from questions raised by the Conservative health spokesman, Andrew Lansley, who acuses the government of failing to prioritise this issue and calls for action to be taken.

In March this year the NTA published a report into their treatment of young people; at the time we pointed out they had told us:

there are more young people in treatment, 23,905 under 18s in 2007/08, up from 17,001 in 2005/06.’

So, what we’ve learnt from today’s stories is that more young people are in treatment between 16 and 18 (12,611) than under 16 (11,294).

Back in March the NTA argued:

There is growing public concern about young people’s use of drugs and alcohol.’ Though this concern is understandable, there is little evidence to support the perception that drug and alcohol use is spreading among young people.

Filed under: treatment

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.

Filed under: treatment

Internet-based drug treatment interventions

Insight10-140pxHaving heard Teuvo Peltoniemi talk about the potential for the internet and ICT more generally in delivering treatment I was interested to see that the EMCDDA have a new report looking at the area.

They suggest:

offering treatment to drug users via the Internet could have a number of advantages: it could reach a group of young people whose pattern of drug use falls between experimental and problematic and who are currently not reached through any other channel.

They go on to suggest that it may prove to be a particularly attractive route for reaching young problematic cannabis users who may be reluctant to approach traditional treatment services, and note that:

currently in Europe, there is a general lack of services dedicated to young, socially integrated problem cannabis users.

The report looks at the Knowing Cannabis website’s self-help programme and say:

Available data for the Know Cannabis Self-help shows that only about 9 % actually completed the programme and participated for at least 28 days. This attrition rate is presumably due to the low threshold access at the beginning, as not even a valid e-mail address had to be entered, or a real name. One could expect higher retention rates for nonanonymous programmes, subject to a fee.

Nevertheless, the report argues we should see the programme as best practice “since other studies have shown the efficacy of similar self-help programmes for problem alcohol use”.

Filed under: cannabis, treatment

Howard Parker on Young People and the ACCE Profile

Howard Parker

Via email I’ve had my attention brought to the Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs.

FEAD is an online resource that brings short video presentations from leading figures in the alcohol and drugs field direct to your screen. The contributors cover a range of topics honestly and directly – including: achievements, problem areas, and reflections on the field’s history.

One of the videos I’ve had the chance to watch is Professor Howard Parker talking about how young people’s drug use is changing.

You can watch what he says here.

Filed under: drug information, drug policy, treatment

Cyber services for drug prevention and treatment

I promised that I’d post up Teuvo Peltoniemi’s presentation to the UN from a few weeks ago and he’s now been kind enough to send it to me.

Click on the picture to download the PDF

Teuvo Peltoniemi

Should you happen to read Finnish you can also read what Teuvo had to say about the experience on his blog here.

Filed under: drug blogs, treatment

Closing the Gaps

tower-of-londonI spent an interesting day with Addaction yesterday in the Tower of London.

Rather than looking for ravens or Beefeaters with the tourists, we were listening to the findings from their latest project, Young Addaction Plus, which they’ve written up in a report, Closing the Gaps.

Addaction say:

Following their involvement in the Young Addaction Plus (YAP) project, 91% of the young people made positive changes to their lives, 96% tried to keep out of crime, and 82% either reduced or stabilised their substance misuse.

The findings were particularly striking given the severity of the problems the young people suffered when they first entered the project. The ages of the young people ranged between 10 and 19; they had complex drug and alcohol problems and their needs could not be met within mainstream services.

Listening to the parent and young people who had been through the process it was clear they felt they owed a great deal to the staff that worked with them, but it had not been an easy process.

Young People

The young people spoke about relapses, with one young person saying that her drug use was “always there, always going round and round.” However they also said that when they had relapsed they had changed their patterns of use to make sure they were doing less harm to themselves.  They also spoke very movingly about being able to rely on the workers from Addaction to be there for them, often seeing them 3 or 4 times a week for hours on end.

One of the young people told us about the difference that sort of interaction had made by admitting that when he’d been to traditional treatment sessions he’d told the workers what he’d thought they wanted to hear with little intention of doing what he’d agreed.  With Addaction the worker had accompanied him to the various actitivities they’d agreed to, whether that was to college to choose courses for him to do, or to the gym where Addaction were able to pay for his membership.  He said this positive pressure from his worker had shown him that the activities were worthwhile in themselves, and now he didn’t need the worker to motivate him to do these things he could do that himself.


The parent who spoke told us about how difficult she had found the behaviour of her drug taking son, but how she’d tried to keep his behaviour from her husband and the toll that had taken on their marriage.  She said that traditional services had been unco-ordinated, and that schools in particular hadn’t been as involved their son’s well-being as they’d have wanted.

She described fleeing from a city to living in a rural town in order to change the circumstances of her family life, but found that this wasn’t the magical solution to the problems.

Addaction had given her strategies to cope, to be able to see that her husband was an integral part of the family and needed to be included in the process of changing their son’s life, and a safe and reliable place to share their problems.  She told us that she suffered epileptic fits 3 or 4 times a week which made traditional services (where the client travels to the worker) unaccessible as she couldn’t drive.  Addaction’s model meant that the family worker was able to visit their home.

The Model

closing-the-gapsAs you’ll see if you read the report Addaction were piloting a way of working which reached 386 young people over 5 geographical areas over the 3 years of the project.

They said the approach was to provide the young people and the wider family with separate workers, which allowed for a level of confidentiality which they said was critical to keep the young people engaged.  Each worker would have a case load of 5 to 10 cases, which enabled flexibility and an ability to focus on individuals in a way that isn’t open to traditional services.

The project recognised that young people may need several attempts a treatment before reaching a successful conclusion.

The workers who spoke all told us that being able to access a small diversionary fund had been critical.  They told us that this had been used for things like gym membership, equipment for colleges, family day’s out, emergency food or clothes packages, and on at least one occasion a replacement birth certificate.

The latter had allowed the young person to be able to get stable accommodation, which they said was crucial to being able to work on their drug problems.

The workers also said they focused on practical issues – getting young people back into education, into accommodation, benefits etc. – rather than providing counseling services, for which they used colleagues from mainstream services.

The outcomes that Addaction reported seem to me to be immensely heartening, but as I’m sure readers will be aware very resource intensive.  So it was very interesting to hear that in 4 of the 5 pilot areas the commissioners had been able to mainstream the project.

The point that I made to various people over the course of the day was that if we are thinking about reducing risks then it would make sense to ensure that prevention work is being done with other siblings in the family.  Of course, some will be by default – the parenting skills that are being picked up for example – but perhaps something specific which looks at what can be done to protect other children in the family would be useful.

Filed under: treatment

Getting to grips with substance misuse among young people

Getting to grips with substance misuse among young peopleThe NTA have a new report Getting to grips with substance misuse among young people. They say:

There is growing public concern about young people’s use of drugs and alcohol.  Though this concern is understandable, there is little evidence to support the perception that drug and alcohol use is spreading among young people.

Nevertheless, there are more young people in treatment, 23,905 under 18s in 2007/08, up from 17,001 in 2005/06.  They say that the latest figures break down as follows; 12,021 primarily for cannabis use and 8,589 for misusing alcohol.

The NTA compare those figures with some others in order to develop a context:

  • 93,601 young people aged between 10 and 17 entered the criminal justice system for the first time in 2007/08
  • 212,000 young people in England were classified as persistent absentees from secondary school in 2006/07
  • 39,170 young women in England under the age of 18 became pregnant in 2006

Filed under: treatment

Young Addaction in North Lancashire

Addaction have produced this short video about their work in North Lancashire.

They say:

A short film about Young Addaction’s work in Morecambe and North Lancashire.

If you live in the area and want some advice on drugs and alcohol, you can call us on 01524 428310, from 9.30 – 5.30pm weekdays.

You don’t need to have a problem to get in touch and our service is free to use and completely confidential.

Addaction are the UK’s biggest drug and alcohol treatment charity.

Filed under: treatment

Addaction Appeal

Addaction advert

Addaction are launching an appeal to raise £10 million.  They say they’re trying to:

target head-on the perception of drug and alcohol treatment as an unfashionable and unpopular cause to support. The appeal has been launched to respond to the scale of drug and alcohol addiction among young people in the UK.

The appeal will feature the experience of 4 people who have had experience of addiction and will go under the strap line “Unfashionable, Not Unimportant”.

You can see a number of short films they’ve made on the charity’s YouTube channel.  Here’s an example:

Filed under: treatment

Treatment Figures

The Daily Mail:

The number of 16 and 17-year-olds being treated for drug addiction has soared by 30 per cent in two years.

And cocaine is fast catching up with cannabis as the drug of choice for teenagers, figures out today show.

There were 7,857 youngsters aged 16 and 17 on drug treatment programmes in England in 2007/08 – up from 6,058 the year before.

Worryingly, there was also a significant increase in the number of under-16s receiving treatment, up 17 per cent to 6,840.

The NTA say:

For clients aged under 18 years, cannabis was the most frequent main drug of misuse (78 per cent). Heroin or other opiates were reported for five per cent of young clients, and crack or cocaine was reported for six per cent of this group.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: treatment,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2021