Very promising news about drug habits of young people

Very promising news about drug habits of young people

By Liz Lockhart/National Treatment Agency

The letter below has been issued by the National Treatment Agency.  It holds very promising news about the drug habits of young people:

MORE young people are overcoming their problems with drug and alcohol misuse than ever before, according to the latest statistics for England released this week. 75% (10,507) of under-18s leaving drug and alcohol services last year successfully completed their programmes, compared to 48% (4,105) five years ago.

The NTA said the rise showed that young people were increasingly responding to specialist treatment before problematic drug and alcohol habits became entrenched. New data released for the first time showed that the majority of youngsters needing help for substance misuse also have other emotional or social problems, such as self-harming, offending or not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The national statistics and trends are analysed in an NTA report, Substance Misuse among Young People 2010-11, which also shows that:

  • The overall number of young people accessing specialist substance misuse services appears to have peaked, as numbers have fallen for the second year running (to 21,955 from a peak of 24,053 in 2008-9).
  • Waiting times remain low, and government funding has been maintained at £25 million despite financial pressures, so any young person who needs specialist help can get it.
  • The vast majority of these vulnerable under-18s (nine out of ten) primarily receive support for problems with cannabis or alcohol.
  • Very few are treated for Class A drugs like heroin, cocaine or ecstasy, and this small number has more than halved to 770, compared to 1,859 five years ago.
  • The only drug category to see any increase was amphetamines (from 256 to 639). These include mephedrone, now classified as a Class B banned drug.

Rosanna O'Connor, NTA Director of Delivery, said: "Any substance misuse among young people is a cause for concern. The good news is that if young people need help they can get it quickly, before their use is entrenched, and they respond particularly well to drug and alcohol programmes.

"Three-quarters of those leaving last year successfully completed a treatment programme, which is a big improvement from under half five years ago. Surveys show that fewer young people are using drugs, but services are getting better for those who do have problems, and outcomes are improving."

"It is also encouraging that the number needing help for Class A drugs particularly heroin, continues to fall. The advent of new substances like mephedrone shows that services need to be ready to respond to changing needs, but fortunately the numbers needing specialist interventions remain low."

Minister of State for Children and Families, Sarah Teather, said: "It's encouraging to see the number of young people needing help for drug and alcohol problems is continuing to fall. More young people are successfully completing treatment programmes to help get their lives back on track.

"It is important the progress we have seen is maintained. Failure to tackle substance misuse in young people has a serious impact on their future prospects, and can have a high financial cost for society. The Government's Drug Strategy puts a clear emphasis on preventing drug misuse among young people. Local authorities should continue to focus on intervening early to help vulnerable young people confront their difficulties." 

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