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Drink and drugs ‘rife’ among youngsters

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Drink and drugs 'rife' among youngsters

DRINK and drugs are affecting thousands of young people in the region, according to a new study.

A report commissioned by the Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (D&GADP) estimates 2-3000 children locally are affected by parental substance misuse.
Furthermore, there is concern about the youngsters themselves with widespread underage drinking flagged up as a key worry by many working in support services locally.
Consultants McMillan Rome said: “The general consensus amongst stakeholders interviewed was that underage drinking is the biggest substance misuse issue facing children and young people living in the region.
“A number of interviewees believed that many young people are drinking in licensed premises, with most stakeholders reporting that drinking by young people in communities tends to happen indoors at house parties, which makes it difficult to fully assess the extent of the problem.”
They were also told that the drinking culture in Dumfries is ‘endemic’ within the population at large with many youngsters therefore believing intoxication is normal.
Turning to drugs, stimulants are the most widely known to be used by young people along with increased reports of ecstasy consumption.
Furthermore, it was reported that youngsters say they “can access drugs within 10 minutes” if they desire.
The consultants said: “There was considerable agreement from those interviewed that the impact of substance misuse on young people living in Dumfries and Galloway tends to be one of causing
emotional changes, mental health issues including depression, self-harm and, in some cases,
“A few stakeholders were of the view that some young people get intoxicated or stoned as an alternative to committing self-harm.”
And concerns were raised to them about the uneven spread of support across the region: “There is a widespread belief that services are centred on Dumfries and Nithsdale to the detriment of other places.
“Young people living in more rural and remote places have an almost impossible task in trying to access anything.”
The full report was presented to councillors at a meeting in Dumfries this week.
Key report findings:

* Approximately 437 adults with problem drug use are living with dependent children in Dumfries and Galloway
* There are approximately 1249 problem drug users aged 15-64 in the area
* Parental alcohol misuse potentially affects 2-3000 children locally
* 40 per cent of 13-year-olds in Dumfries and Galloway reported they had had an alcoholic drink and the figure was 81 per cent for 15-year-olds- both higher than the Scottish average
* The vast majority of 13 year-olds in the area reported never having tried drugs (97 per cent)
* But six per cent of 15 year-old males stated they are using drugs ‘most days’.
* Vodka, legal highs and cider are the most frequently used substances by young people
* It’s estimated approximately 731 15-17 year-olds are drinking on a weekly basis.

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