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Drugs and alcohol a growing problem

The number of young people treated for problems relating to drugs and alcohol in England hit record proportions last year, according to a report.

Figures from the National Treatment Agency show that there was a 12% increase in the number of 13 to 24-year-olds seen by counsellors in England, with the figure standing at 52,294.

The data, uncovered by BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat programme, revealed a drop in the number of young people addicted to traditional hard drugs such as heroin and crack.

The shift in habits among under-25s was towards mixing alcohol with softer party drugs - a phenomenon known among drug workers as alcohol plus cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy (or ACCE - pronounced "ace").

There was a 44% rise from 21,744 in 2005/06 to 31,401 in 2007/08 in the  number of under-25s getting treatment for one or more of those drugs.

The programme said that treatment for addiction to heroin and crack among people aged 13-24 fell by 19% over the same period to 18,597.

Howard Parker, Professor Emeritus at Manchester University, who coined the term ACCE, said: "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 three together and you've got just as serious a problem for health, family life and society as heroin."

The NTA says that the rise in the number of young people coming into treatment is due in large part to an expansion and increased investment in drug treatment over the last few years, meaning that if you have a drug problem you are now much more likely to get the help you need.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

National Treatment Agency

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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Alcohol is far too cheap, the spirits and stronger drinks need to be priced out of young people's budgets; at least if only wine and beer were available at affordable prices it would be a step towards damage limitation. Young people's expectations of having a good time is to be out of their heads, being in their heads needs to be shown to be a better place, more youth clubs and positive activities need to be available." - Beverley Atkinson, Holmfirth, West Yorks