Review urges ‘age-appropriate’ drug services for young people

14th July, 2021 1:51 pm

The government should invest in “age-appropriate” drug services for young people amid a 40 per cent rise in drug use in 11- to 15-year-olds, a major report finds.

The second part of a government-commissioned review of drugs, by Cambridge university professor Dame Carol Black, found that overall funding for drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services has fallen by 17 per cent between from 2014/15 and 2019/20.

The reduction in funding for young people’s specialist substance misuse services was 28 per cent over the same period leading to “rising demand on children’s social care”, it states.

It states that the Department for Health and Social Care should invest an additional £552m over five years on top of the baseline annual expenditure of £680m from the public health grant, “to provide a full range of high-quality drug treatment and recovery services”.

Included in the recommendations are proposals to make funding available to “improve capacity and quality of specialist substance misuse services in response to increased drug use among children and young people”.

“The national Commissioning Quality Standard should ensure that these services are linked with other local services for vulnerable young people,” the report states, citing NHS data from the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England survey which shows that drug use among children (aged 11 to 15) has increased by more than 40 per cent since 2014, reversing a previous long-term downward trend.

More social workers should be employed by drug services alongside health professionals to create more robust support services, the report adds.

It also recommends that the Department for Education and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport lead investment in age-appropriate evidence-based services and support all young people to build resilience and avoid substance misuse.

“Local authorities should identify, and provide additional support to, those young people most at risk of being drawn into using illicit substances or involvement in supply,” it states.

A further £15m should be invested by the Department for Work and Pensions to support young people in finding employment and diverting them away from the criminal justice system, according to the report.

Source: CYP Now

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