Children as young as 8 smoking cannabis
Irish children as young as eight years old are experimenting with drugs, a leading child psychiatrist has warned.
Dr Gerry McCarney said it is not unusual for him to meet young people who began smoking cannabis at 10, or even eight years old.
And he said exposure to drugs at such a young age is leading to a host of developmental problems for these children by the time they reach their early teens.
Dr McCarney, who treats young drug users under the SASSY (Substance Abuse Service Specific to Youth) Project Dublin, said more drug awareness education needs to happen in national schools.
He said studies have shown that children between the ages of eight and 13 see the beneficial effects of drugs or alcohol without the risks.
"If we are waiting until after that to educate them we are missing the boat," he warned.
"I think the youngest person we have worked with was 11...obviously they had started using sometime before that."