‘Extremely concerning’ rise in youngsters hospitalised for substance misuse

Young people are increasingly experiencing problems with drugs and alcoholYoung people are increasingly experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol
Young people are increasingly experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol
Hospital admissions due to substance misuse among young people have more than doubled in some areas of Yorkshire in the last decade, according to official data.

NHS hospitals across Yorkshire and The Humber have had to deal with almost 2,000 admission episodes of children and young adults between 2016 and 2018, hundreds more than they faced a decade ago.

Across Yorkshire, this represents a 12 per cent rise in nearly 10 years, albeit from a relatively small base.

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The latest figures from Public Health England for substance misuse among those aged between 15 and 24 show Doncaster had the biggest increase, where cases rose to 130 between 2016 and 2018, a rise of 120 per cent in a decade.

North Yorkshire, Britain’s biggest county, had the most cases at 180, a rise of just over a third during this time.

Public Health England has released the latest figures on hospital admissions due to substance misuse for those aged 15-24.

Public Health England states that these figures are representative of hospital admissions where the primary diagnosis could be mental and behavioural disorders due to opioids, cannabinoids, sedatives, cocaine, hallucinogens and psychoactive substances like Spice.

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Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at addiction firm UKAT, said the figures were “extremely concerning especially because they won’t paint the whole picture”.

“There’ll be countless more children and young adults living across Yorkshire misusing drugs without the need for hospitalisation; this report shows the worst outcomes of when kids ‘experiment’ with drugs."

He added that drug misuse at such an early age of life can result in real long-term physical and social problems.

“Not only are they negatively altering the way their brain grows and develops, but they could miss out on education, develop limited and stinted human relationships, become withdrawn from society and turn to crime to fund their habit.

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“It’s imperative that a significant proportion of the annual Public Health Grant is allocated next month by Councils across Yorkshire to educating and engaging with children in schools to prevent future generations from misusing drugs.

“Given the current Coronavirus crisis, society should be doing everything it can to ease the pressure on the NHS at this incredibly difficult time, and that means investing in preventative steps to reduce the number of kids needing hospitalising because of drugs in the future.”

Last month the government published a review of how the UK currently tackles substance misuse. The report, by Professor Dame Carol Black, analysed the challenges around drug supply and demand, and noted that drug deaths are at an all-time high, the market has become much more violent, and drugs are costing society billions of pounds every year.

The business of illicit drugs is worth £9.4 billion a year with about three million people taking drugs in England and Wales each year. About one in 10 of those are taking the most harmful drugs – opiates and/or crack cocaine.

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The report also found that drug deaths have reached an all-time high and the market has become much more violent - the total costs of drugs to society are estimated to be over £19 billion, which is more than twice the value of the market itself.

Dame Carol is now leading a further review, focused on prevention, treatment and recovery.

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