Fewer young people in treatment
Public Health England recently (8 January 2015) published the statistics for young people’s specialist substance misuse services in England in 2013 – 14.
The main findings are helpfully summarised in this slideshare from Andrew Brown of Drugscope (well worth a follow on Twitter: @andrewbrown365).
Treatment figures not the same as need
It has always been difficult to learn much about levels of use or need from young people’s drug and alcohol treatment statistics for the simple fact that although very large numbers of young people are using a wide variety of drugs on a regular basis, very few of them feel that their use is problematic – or at least problematic enough to seek specialist help.
The statistics found a considerable decrease (4.5%) in the numbers of young people accessing specialist drug and alcohol treatment services in 2013/14. This is in contrast with the most recent crime survey which found that the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds using cannabis and class A drugs had increased for the first time in recent years.
If the next crime survey also shows an increase in use, we might start to wonder whether the reduction of young people in treatment is more to do with public expenditure cuts than a decrease in need.