Hundreds Of British Children Under Age 10 Referred For Drug Treatment

By McCarton Ackerman 05/02/14

The troubling statistics have renewed calls for better quality drug and alcohol education programs throughout the United Kingdom.

teen addict.jpg

Alarming new figures from the U.K. revealed that hundreds of children are being referred for drug and alcohol addiction treatment every year, including ones as young as four.

An investigation by the Press Association showed that four year olds in the town of South Ayrshire were referred to authorities by schools and child services organizations. Referrals at that age are primarily due to the addiction issues of their parents, but it’s possible the children could have a substance abuse problem themselves. Meanwhile, children as young as eight were deemed to be in danger of addiction problems in the London borough of Waltham Forest, while more than half of those under the age of 13 who needed help were treated for cannabis.

Andrew Brown, a director at charity Mentor UK, which works to protect kids from drug and alcohol abuse, said the referrals said that school-based education in the U.K. regarding substance abuse is sporadic at best. “We think it is vital that alcohol and drug education improve,” he said. “Our own survey of teachers suggests that at the moment, delivery is inconsistent, and that the norm is to timetable only one or two sessions a year.”

Similar charities are calling for major changes to drug education in British schools and government officials. Beginning next school year, kids in Year 6, or roughly ages 10-11, will receive lessons on the dangers of drugs. “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,” said a Downing Street spokesman. “The science curriculum also covers how drugs can affect people’s health and lifestyle.”

But Martin Blakebrough, chief executive of Welsh drugs charity Kaleidoscope, felt that anti-drug programs in schools could be counterproductive because it demonizes addicts and alienates children of parents with drug problems. He called going into schools “an absolute waste of time. In fact, it’s worse than that. It causes more damage.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.