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Children as young as 12 treated for drug and drink abuse in Sussex
Children as young as 12 have been treated for alcohol and drug abuse in Sussex.
Figures revealed by local authorities across the county showed that hundreds of youngsters are being referred to specialist drug and alcohol services.
The youngest child in Brighton and Hove was 15, while the youngest in East Sussex was 12. Figures for West Sussex were not included.
According to the most recent figures from Public Health England, 366 under-12s were referred to the special treatment units during 2012/13.
A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “It is very rare that young children are referred to us for drug and alcohol treatment, and during a three-year period only 12 of the 800 young people referred were under 13.
“Around half of those referred are 17- to 18-year-olds, and these young people often have other vulnerabilities such as emotional and mental health issues, homelessness or safeguarding concerns such as sexual exploitation.
“Working with colleagues in the NHS, we are able to offer young people a wide range of treatment interventions and support.
“The East Sussex under-19s substance misuse service is a multi-disciplinary team and includes health and social care practitioners, a psychiatrist and employment advisers.”
He added the rate of youngsters referred is comparable to the national average.
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said the age for substance misuse across the city has risen while the level of use of substances has declined.
He said: “This is very reassuring.
Information and education are helpful in enabling young people to make positive choices.
“Individual schools make their own decisions about how to deliver personal, social and health education.
“The council’s schools team has a well developed PSHE programme and provides consultancy, resources and teacher training to help schools improve the quality of drugs and alcohol education.
“Our schools are committed to continuously improving drugs and alcohol education and to working in partnership with ru-ok?, the city’s substance misuse service for young people.
“Prevention and early intervention are the most positive ways forward.”
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