0720 GMT February 22, 2020
There were 15,583 under-18s in drug treatment in the year to 31 March 2018, a five-percent decrease on the previous year, according to figures from Public Health England, theguardian.com reported.
However, there is evidence that drug use among young people is growing.
Ian Hamilton, a drug abuse and mental health researcher at the University of York, said the decline in treatment numbers was a concern.
“This decline of young people in treatment doesn’t make sense. Young people’s class A drug use is up from 6.8 percent in 2007 to 8.4 percent in 2018, and the 2016 school survey reported 10 percent of schoolchildren had used drugs in 2014 but that rose to 15 percent in 2016. Also school exclusions for drug and alcohol use are up by 95 percent since 2010.
“My concern is that cuts to drug treatment are impacting on young people. If they are also being excluded from school are they finding their own peer support in gangs and being exploited via county line groomers?”
As in previous years, cannabis was the substance that caused the referral to services for most of the young people concerned, with the drug cited for 88 percent of patients.
Ecstasy proved to be a growing problem, with the numbers of people entering treatment for problems with the drug up 16 percent on the previous year, and nearly double the number four years ago. In total ecstasy was cited as the primary or secondary drug of abuse in 14 percent of cases.
Schools were the most common route into drug treatment, accounting for nearly a third of referrals, up from about a quarter in 2012-13. The youth justice system was the second most common referral route, accounting for nearly one in five, down from 39 percent in 2010-11.
A spokesman for Addaction, a charity dealing with mental health, drug and alcohol issues, agreed that there was less money in the system than previously. But he also said that drug services needed to adapt to better meet the needs of young people. “Part of that is around investing in things like online treatment and modeling a new generation of services that meet young people where they are – and obviously in many cases that’s online.”
Public Health England defended its record, while accepting that drug misuse remained a problem. Rosanna O’Connor, its director of, among other things, drugs and tobacco, said, “Despite fewer under-18s seeking treatment for drug misuse, it remains a significant problem for many young people, and the latest data shows a concerning increase in the number of young people needing treatment due to using crack.
“Around 80 percent of young people leaving services did so in a planned way, no longer requiring specialist treatment interventions. This suggests that specialist substance misuse services in England are responding well to the needs of young people who ask for help.”