Hospitals have seen the number of admissions of under-16s due to the use of illegal drugs rise by almost half in a decade, according to new figures.
NHS Information Centre data for 1996/97 to 2006/07 revealed a leap in the number of admissions for those with mental and behavioural problems linked to drug use, as well as for drug poisoning.
The number of under-16s admitted to hospital with drug poisoning rose by 41%, from 596 to 839. Among those aged 16 to 24, there was a 5% rise, from 2,544 admissions in 1996/97 to 2,674 in 2006/07.
There was also a rise in the number of hospital admissions where the main or secondary diagnosis was for mental and behavioural problems linked to drug use.
Among children under 16, the jump was 48% over the period, from 272 to 402. Meanwhile, among those aged 16 to 24, there was a 17% jump, from 5,964 in 1996/97 to 6,983 in 2006/07.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said: “The rise in the number of young people admitted to hospital for drug-related mental or behavioural disorders is shocking.
“Many of these admissions may be related to other, pre-existing mental health problems, such as depression or feelings of alienation, for which we need much earlier intervention and support when families and others express their concerns.”
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