Children's drug use on the rise

ILLEGAL drug use among children in Suffolk is increasing sharply, new figures reveal.Government statistics released yesterday show the number of children under 16 seeking treatment for drug use in the county has risen by 28 per cent over the past year.

ILLEGAL drug use among children in Suffolk is increasing sharply, new figures reveal.

Government statistics released yesterday show the number of children under 16 seeking treatment for drug use in the county has risen by 28 per cent over the past year.

Chip Somers, who runs Focus 12, a drink and drug addiction rehabilitation clinic in Bury St Edmunds, said it was the product of a “demoralised” youth underclass.

He said: “Theses findings are in keeping with our experiences. We've been getting younger and younger people presenting to us.

“When they present to us it is indicative of a greater problem because when they come to us they are usually at the end of the road.

“Our youngest client is 18 but most of our clients say they began taking drugs when they 14 or 15.”

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Mr Somers said help for drug addiction was hard to get hold of for the under 16s while children were finding the drugs themselves relatively easy to obtain.

He said tough under-age drinking rules played a part in making drugs a more appealing route because they were easier to get hold of than drink, which requires the help of an adult to buy.

In 2005-2006, 83 children in Suffolk under the age of 16 years were treated for drug use but in the following year this figure had risen to 106.

The statistics, revealed in a Parliamentary answer to a question from West Suffolk MP Richard Spring also show that there has been a 30pc increase over the past year in the number of children receiving treatment for drug use in the East of England.

Simon Aalders, co-ordinator of the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team said: “Mr Spring is right to raise this issue, however, the vast majority of the young people coming forward to services are seeking help for cannabis and alcohol issues.”

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