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Conference on Treatment of Adolescent Addiction - A National Problem
Thursday, 7th December 2006  

“Adolescents in treatment state they were 12 when first used drugs”

The Drug Treatment Centre Board at its Inaugural Conference on Adolescent Addiction launched today by the Minister for Health & Children, Ms. Mary Harney T.D. highlighted that adolescents attending the Young Person’s Programme stated they were 12 years old when they first used drugs and by the age of 15 they were using Heroin.

Ms. Sheila Heffernan General Manager highlighted the worrying trend in the increase in substance misuse nationally.  She went on to say that “the Board, as a specialist provider of treatment services over the past 37 years, further established a specialist programme for adolescents in 2000.  Initially the focus was on opiate use and was largely confined to the greater Dublin region.  Today, young people are presenting to our services from outside the greater Dublin region.  In 2006 the profile has changed with the majority of young people presenting to this programme being female. Cocaine use continues to increase and our services need to focus on those presenting from the EU and non EU countries.  The most recent ESPAD study, carried out in 2003, reported that Irish 16 years olds have one of the highest rates of drug and alcohol use across Europe.  This reflects the trends of growing drug use observed by us and as seen nationally’.

Mr. Denis P McCarthy, Chairman of The Drug Treatment Centre Board welcomed the delegates “this is a marvellous opportunity for like minded professionals to share knowledge and expertise in the treatment care and management of adolescents and families involved in substance misuse.“

This conference aims to equip professionals, working with adolescent substance misusers, with the knowledge and skills that will assist in the delivery of appropriate services nationally.

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