Children as young as four are being referred to specialist drug and alcohol treatment services in the UK, an investigation has revealed.
Hundreds of youngsters have been flagged as being at risk of becoming addicts or have even started abusing alcohol and substances themselves, leading charities to call for improved education in schools.
Freedom of Information requests sent to all councils in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland reveal children as young as four have been referred to specialists in South Ayrshire.
Eight year olds have been flagged up to services in Waltham Forest and East Ayrshire, while Herefordshire, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, Rutland, the Scottish Borders and West Berkshire have all seen nine year olds referred.
Bury, Calderdale, Halton, Hull, Monmouthshire and Rochdale councils have referred 10 year olds.
The figures were uncovered by the Press Association.
A referral can either mean the child is vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse through exposure from a parent or relative, or could have started abusing them on their own.
The most common reason for children to come into contact with drugs and alcohol is through their parents, according to experts.
Preventative work is key to heading off the problem among youngsters, they say.
According to the most recent statistics from Public Health England, 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13, compared with 433 in 2011/12.
More than half of under-13s - 59% - received treatment for cannabis misuse.
A third were treated for alcohol misuse, with a small number abusing solvents.
Andrew Brown, director of programmes at the charity Mentor UK, which seeks to protect children from drug and alcohol misuse, said it was "vital" education surrounding alcohol and drugs is improved.
Evidence suggests the "norm" of having one or two lessons on the subject a year is not sufficient, he added.
One of the Government's official drug advisers, Professor Simon Gibbons, recently said more needed to be done on drugs education in primary and middle schools.
By law, schools must cover the harmful effects of drugs on behaviour and health as part of the national science curriculum.
A new curriculum being introduced in September states that pupils in year six - those aged 10 and 11 - must learn to "recognise the impact of diet, exercise and drugs and lifestyle on the way their bodies function".
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons remain non-compulsory, although the Department for Education recommends schools schedule time for them and use the lessons to expand the knowledge pupils get in science lessons.
A Government spokeswoman said: "Both the old and the new curriculum are clear that all pupils should be taught about how drugs and other substances can be harmful to the human body.
"The science curriculum also covers how drugs can affect people's health and lifestyle.
"Teachers are also free to use their professional judgement to address any specific issues that meet the needs of their pupils through PSHE."
Saturday, 2 August 2014
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Compared with 50 years ago, today's heroin user is whiter, more suburban and had prescription opioids for a gateway. Dina Fine Maron reports
In the last half century, heroin contributed to thousands of deaths, from Janis Joplin to Philip Seymour Hoffman to legions of people now remembered only by their friends and families. But compared with 50 years ago, the drug’s consumers look strikingly different now. Back then, a typical user was often an inner-city minority male whose first drug experience was with heroin, at about the age of 17. Today’s users are mostly non-urban white men and women in their late twenties whose gateway drug was a prescription opioid. The findings come from surveys of some 2,800 heroin users who self-reported demographic information and other data when they entered treatment centers. The results are in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. [Theodore J. Cicero et al, The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States: A Retrospective Analysis of the Past 50 Years] Up until 1980, whites and non-white sought treatment in equal numbers. But in the last decade, nearly 90 percent of treatment center patients were white. Recent users said that heroin became their drug of choice because it was both cheaper and easier to get than prescription drugs. Half of today’s users said that if they could they’d prefer prescription drugs because those opioids are “cleaner.” The researchers note that their study is limited because it includes only users who sought treatment. But the data seem to confirm the growing suspicion that heroin has left the city and is now comfortably ensconced in the suburbs.
—Dina Fine Maron
Heroin Has Expanded Its User Base
Saturday, 14 June 2014
Former addict Robert Downey Jr. 'producing Showtime drama centered on a Venice Beach drug rehab center'
Showtime has 'put in development' a drama produced by Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan, and penned by Gary Lennon (Orange Is the New Black). According to Deadline, the cable network landed the untitled project in a 'competitive situation.' The drama would be set in 1983 at a colourful Venice Beach rehab/therapeutic community. Addiction and recovery is all too familiar territory for the two-time Oscar nominee, whose taste for cocaine and heroin landed him in court-ordered rehab twice. In 1999, the troubled 49-year-old spent nearly a year at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran. Two years later, he landed at Promises - also known as the 'Malibu Motel' - which has treated celebs like Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan. 'When someone says, "I really wonder if maybe I should go to rehab?" Well, uh, you're a wreck, you just lost your job, and your wife left you. Uh, you might want to give it a shot,' Robert told Oprah Winfrey in 2004. Back in 1987, Downey earned some of the best reviews of his career as Hollywood junkie Julian in Less Than Zero also featuring Brat Pack actors Andrew McCarthy and James Spader. The Iron Man star credits his sobriety to his wife, therapy, meditation, 12-step recovery programs, yoga, and the practice of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Venice beach drug rehab
Monday, 2 June 2014
Eight people have been killed after fire swept through a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts in Russia's eastern Altai region, officials say. Six people were injured in the Chisty List centre near the Krasilovo lake. The officials say the blaze caused the collapse of the roof of the building. A criminal investigation into suspected safety rules violations in now under way. Similar tragedies in the past have raised questions over safety standards in Russia's medical centres. Last September, 37 people died in a fire that engulfed a psychiatric hospital in the north-western Novgorod region. Several months earlier, a blaze at another psychiatric hospital near Moscow killed 38 people. In 2009, 23 people died at an old people's home in the north-west Komi region, while in 2007, 63 were killed at a home in Krasnodar, southern Russia. In 2006, a fire at a Moscow drug rehabilitation clinic killed 45 women. Drug rehab fire
Monday, 14 April 2014
Leading figures in the global fight against doping gather in London today for a major conference to discuss how to clean up sport. However, Sky Sports has found that a number of drugs which are widely available are still impossible to detect, leaving the anti-doping authorities sometimes years behind the cheats. Sky Sports News' Orla Chennaoui discovered that the next generation of performance enhancing drugs are widely available online and being offered to athletes. "At the Winter Olympics one Russian scientist was caught trying to sell a new muscle-building drug on the black market," said Chennauoi. "The World Anti-Doping Agency expressed surprise, but a version of the drug named MGF has been around for years." Number of drugs impossible to detect
Thursday, 20 March 2014
Jackson's heroin problem persists, fuelled by prescription drug abuse; addiction treatment difficult, but possible
JACKSON, MI – Almost every person with an addiction to heroin knows someone whose use has killed them. Most have overdosed or been near death, but this often isn’t enough to convince them to stop or seek help, those who work in substance abuse treatment report. “It is amazing. It is incredible, the power of opiates. It controls you. You do not control it,” said Mike Hirst, who lost his son to heroin in 2010 and now does much heroin-related education and community outreach. He and others have gained some ground, but the problem persists in Jackson and elsewhere, affecting people across a broad spectrum of classes and circumstances. “It’s not going away,” Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Dave Cook said of the drug. “It’s cheap, and it’s the best fix out there.” About twice a week, officers or informants working for the Jackson Narcotics Enforcement Team buy heroin in Jackson County, said Cook, who heads the team. Since 2009, they have seized 3,047 grams of heroin in the county. The number increased every year from 2009 to 2011, when it took a big jump because of a large bust. Last year, the narcotics team removed less heroin from the streets than any of the previous three years, but Cook said this does not mean the drug is no longer an issue. Occasionally, officers arrest a significant trafficker, but the take-down never slows the supply for long, he said. “The sad truth is we are not going to put them out of business. As long as there is a need, these guys are going to be slinging heroin because there is a lot of money to be made in it,” Cook said. He said the drug made a resurgence from 2000 to 2005, and its use and prevalence has not slowed. “I’d say it picked up.” There were about twice the number of people in the United States who depended on or abused heroin in 2012 than there were in 2002, according to the most recent statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the addiction is difficult to treat. Jackson County Recovery Court, which aims to help felony offenders with drug or alcohol dependencies, has the least success with those who are struggling with opiate addictions. They require more intensive treatment the court does not always have the resources to provide. The program has had some success with users who are more mature, who have more to lose, said Newell Turpel, court recovery coach. “Young people are our hardest target population.” Most with addictions to heroin are in their 20s, recovery court officials say, and the court now has some federal grant money designated for a pilot program to increase the help it offers opiate users. Usually, their troubles begin with prescription drugs, such as Vicodin or Oxycontin, a synthetic version of heroin. They had an injury or a dental procedure and a doctor wrote them a prescription, or they started taking pills to get high. People become hooked on the pills and gravitate to heroin, which is less expensive. It cost about $20 for a “bindle,” a tenth of a gram, which amounts to about one usage, Cook said. Until communities have a handle on the prescription drug problem, the heroin problem will persist, said Hirst, who speaks at schools and, with his family, started a nonprofit foundation, Andy’s Angels, in honor of his son. “Everybody has access to prescription drugs anymore.” Deaths result. From 1999 to 2012, the latest included year, there were 2,033 heroin-related deaths in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. The number from 2010 to 2012 was 728, up from the 271 reported from 1999 to 2002. In Jackson County, there have been five such deaths from 1999 to 2012, the agency reports, but local information suggests there have been far more. Hirst knows of as many as four heroin deaths in the last three months. Jessica Neeley, a 27-year-old recovering from a heroin addiction, went to a memorial just last week. “There are people dying every single day that aren’t famous,” she said during a recent conversation about actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a heroin overdose in February. Neeley would rather people hear the success stories. Some recover from their addiction, but it takes motivation and work. “They have to do it on their own, and they have to really want to do it on their own,” Hirst said. “They have to want to get better Addiction treatment possible