Children as young as 11 have been referred to specialist drug and alcohol treatment services in Lancashire, according to new figures.
Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act show children in the county are being referred by education and children’s services to alcohol and drugs specialists.
A referral can mean the child is vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse through exposure from a parent or other relative, or could have started abusing themselves.
Nationally some 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13 in England, according to the most recent figures from Public Health England, compared with 433 in 2011/12.
More than half of the under-13s referred – 59 per cent – received treatment for cannabis misuse, while a third were treated for alcohol misuse. A small number abused solvents.
Mike Leaf, Lancashire County Council’s director of health improvement, said: “There are now fewer young people with alcohol and drug addiction problems in Lancashire. Research also shows that generally, people do not start to use drugs and alcohol until later in life.
“However, there is still work to do to discourage drug and alcohol misuse and support people to quit their habit.
“Many schools sign up to our Healthy Schools Programme that provides training and materials to help teachers and schools staff to educate children about drug and alcohol issues and refer them to our advice services if they have a problem.
“If you need help to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction, or suspect someone in your family may have an issue, call Addaction Central Lancashire on 01772 255307.”