UK Charities have called for improved drugs education in schools after an investigation demonstrated that primary school aged children are being flagged as at risk of becoming future addicts.
Children as young as 11 from the Westcountry are among literally hundreds of young people being referred to specialist drug and alcohol treatment services in the UK, both privately and within the NHS.
The most common reason that children come into contact with drugs and alcohol is through their parent’s activities and preventative work is essential to discourage misuse among youngsters, say treatment experts.
The Government has defended the old and new curriculum, and feels that all pupils should be taught about how drugs and other substances can have harmful effects on a person’s physical and mental health.
Using freedom of information laws, the UK Press Association approached councils across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to assess the scale of the problem today.
It found that youngest age of children being referred to specialist drug and alcohol drug services was 11 in Dorset, 12 in Somerset and 13 in both Plymouth and neighbouring Cornwall.
Elsewhere in the country, a four-year-old child was referred for treatment in South Ayrshire, eight-year-olds in Waltham Forest and East Ayrshire, and nine-year-olds had been referred in Herefordshire, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, Rutland, the Scottish Borders and West Berkshire.
Approximately 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13 in England, according to the most recent figures from Public Health England, compared with 433 in 2011/12, meaning there may be cause for hope.
More than half of under-13 year olds (59%) received treatment for cannabis abuse or addiction, while a third were treated for alcohol misuse/abuse.
Despite the positive change of direction, these figures still represent an alarming statistic and state of affairs.
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