Fewer young people in treatment

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Just over 20,000 under-18s received help for drug and alcohol problems in 2012-13, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE), down more than 600 from the previous year.

More than 13,500 sought help for cannabis as their main problem drug, and more than 4,700 for alcohol, while ‘historic low’ figures for young people needing help for heroin or cocaine – 175 and 245 respectively – were offset by increasing numbers having problems with amphetamines, mephedrone and other new psychoactive substances.

‘Young people’s alcohol and drug use is generally less established than adults’, so they tend to respond quickly and positively to interventions,’ says Substance misuse among young people in England 2012-13, with the average length of a treatment episode around five months.

‘While the overall picture on young people’s substance misuse is fairly positive, cannabis and alcohol still present real challenges and services are also having to adapt to cope with the consequences of increased use of club drugs and newer substances,’ said PHE’s director of alcohol and drugs, Rosanna O’Connor.

Meanwhile a report from Dr Foster found that people with a drug or alcohol problem accounted for almost 20 per cent of all emergency hospital admissions among the 40-44 age group. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), however, show that the proportion of adults who drank on at least five days of the previous week has fallen from 22 per cent to 14 per cent of men and from 13 per cent to 9 per cent of women, with the over-65s the group most likely to have drunk regularly. ‘People who drink frequently – every day or on most days of the week are just as likely as those who don’t drink as often to think they are in good health,’ said Drinkaware chief executive Elaine Hindal. ‘However, the medical evidence is clear; regularly drinking above the lower-risk alcohol guidelines increases the chances of developing health problems such as liver disease and cancer.’

Substance misuse among young people in England 2012-13 at www.gov.uk; myhospitalguide.drfosterintelligence.co.uk; Drinking habits amongst adults, 2012 at www.ons.gov.uk