The number of youngsters seeking help for drug problems has risen sharply in the UK
Drugs and alcohol are taking a heavier toll than ever on young people, with a record number treated for a problem last year.
There was a sharp 12 per cent rise in the number of 13 to 24-year-olds seen by counsellors in England, to 52,294, a BBC investigation found.
But there was a drop in the number addicted to 'hard' drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, according to the data from the National Treatment Agency.
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.
Howard Parker, Professor Emeritus at Manchester University, who coined the term ACCE last year, tells Radio One's Newsbe at programme today: 'Alcohol is cheaper and more available, cannabis is far stronger, cocaine is half the price it used to be and you can get half a dozen Ecstasy tablets for £10.
'Put those together and you've got just as serious a problem for health, family life and society as heroin.'
Officials from the National Treatment Agency tell the programme that the rise in those seeking treatment does not necessarily mean that a record number of young people are abusing drugs and alcohol.
NTA spokesman Tom Aldridge said: 'We had an enormous increase in the number of young people coming on to treatment. That's more to do with drug services being more available and increased investment.
'But what is clear is that there is more of a focus on cannabis, alcohol and cocaine powder use, and it's a very small minority that are using crack cocaine and opiates.'
BBC Radio One and 1Xtra are running a Drugs Week campaign which explores the health risks associated with drug taking. The Newsbeat item will be aired from today.
Source - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1191515/Youngsters-seeking-help-drugs-hit-record-level.html
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