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Surge in teenage drug addiction

New figures have revealed a 30% rise in the number of 16 and 17-year-olds being treated for drug addiction in the past two years.

The National Treatment Agency data showed that there were 7,857 youngsters aged 16 and 17 in drug treatment programmes in England in 2007/08, up from the 2005/06 figure of 6,058.

The number was also a 7% increase on 2006/07, when there were 7,338 people aged 16 and 17 in drug treatment programmes.

Figures for the under-16s in 2007/08 showed an 8% increase on the previous year, and a rise of 17% over two years - from 5,859 in 2005/06 to 6,840 in 2007/8.

The data is set against an overall rise in the number of people of all ages accessing treatment. A record 202,666 people were treated in 2007/08, with one in 10 of these aged 19 and under.

The age group most likely to misuse cannabis was the under-18s, with 78% of this age group treated for cannabis misuse. A further 5% were treated for cocaine addiction, another 5% for heroin addiction, 1% for crack, 2% for amphetamines and 3% for ecstasy misuse.

The data also showed that just 11% of people of all ages entering treatment programmes in England left them entirely drug-free.

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