Shock number of kids seeking drug and booze help

A SHOCKING 13 per cent of Australians treated for problem drug or alcohol use last financial year were children, some as young as 10.

The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, released today, reveals the number of people needing professional help for substance abuse rose from 118,760 in 2013-14 to 130,031 in 2017-18 - more than 16,000 of whom were children.

More than a third needed help for alcohol abuse, a quarter for amphetamines, 21 per cent for cannabis, and 5 per cent for heroin. Publicly funded alcohol and drug services provided just under 210,000 treatment episodes.

"We have increased treatment services in Queensland, and it is great that so many people are seeking help," Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies chief executive Rebecca Lang said.

"Children who are struggling in homes with violence or in other difficult situations are more likely to be self-medicating. If these kids get the help they need early, their futures will be brighter. There is a 60 to 70 per cent chance of success."

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia.


Over the past 10 years, there has been a national increase in treatment agencies, from 653 in 2008-09 to 952 in 2017-18.

The AIHW report, Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia , shows counselling is the most common treatment, but there is also a focus on education and diversion programs. Some use a structured drug-free setting with abstinence-oriented interventions to prevent relapse and to develop skills and attitudes that help clients make changes.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said alcohol and drug use were "causal factors" in about one in 20 deaths in Australia each year.

"These patients should be offered the best available support and treatment," he said, adding that the causes of the abuse needed to be addressed.

He said novel policies and investment in innovative trials and new prevention measures would help battle the scourge of substance abuse.



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