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Kids snared by alcohol and drugs

PUBLISHED: 11:14 20 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 July 2010

NEARLY 700 people under the age of 18 in Suffolk are seeking help for their problems with alcohol and drugs, a charity has revealed.

The startling figures, which show that children as young as 13 are being treated for drug or alcohol problems, have been revealed in the annual review of the charity NORCAS, ahead of its special conference today, which focuses on drug awareness work with the youth.

NEARLY 700 people under the age of 18 in Suffolk are seeking help for their problems with alcohol and drugs, a charity has revealed.

The startling figures, which show that children as young as 13 are being treated for drug or alcohol problems, have been revealed in the annual review of the charity NORCAS, ahead of its special conference today, which focuses on drug awareness work with the youth.

During the past year, NORCAS has helped a total of 5,843 people who are dependent on drugs or alcohol, and 693 of these are under 18 years old. Of these 275 youngsters are getting help for alcohol problems, while the majority - 418 - have drug issues, most commonly with cannabis.

Other statistics to be revealed at the conference today show 16% of those questioned reported that drugs make life more fun but more than half of those who currently use illegal drugs report that they would like to stop.

NORCAS, East Anglia's largest independent charity which helps those who misuse drugs, alcohol and gambling, was commissioned to run a youth service in Suffolk about nine years ago.

Chris Lee, head of the youth service, said: “There has been a rise in the numbers however I would not say the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse has risen, but young people are more equipped to access the services than they would have been a year ago. More young people are coming forward for help.

“We see a wide range of young people - some may have been subjected to previous traumas or abuse, or they have got involved in recreational drugs through people they know.

“We help young people who are experiencing a problem in their life and drugs or alcohol has an impact on them, like they might be arguing with their mum and dad after having a heavy drinking session.”

He said that the services for adults focus on helping those who are dependent on drugs and alcohol, whereas the youth services look to treat those who have problems with these drugs, thereby reducing the number of issues in the future.

Anyone who is referred to the charity, either self-referred or by an agency like the Youth Offending Team, then embarks on a treatment programme, which involves setting small goals to achieve and counselling sessions. Although the charity actively encourages parental involvement, treatment is not dependent on it.

If anyone in Suffolk wants to get help, they should call NORCAS 01502 513444 or e-mail youth@norcas.org.uk.

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