Teenage drug use 'is out of control'
COCAINE and heroin addiction among adolescents is spiralling out of control, while the Government does nothing to monitor the problem, according to a leading addiction centre for young people.
And the Aislinn Centre yesterday revealed it has seen more and more 15-year-old girls seeking treatment after becoming addicted to alcohol.
The centre, which treats addiction in adolescents, reported a 20pc jump in bed nights this year because of the increase in drink, drugs and gambling problems.
It says there has been an increase in cocaine usage and that the use of this drug and heroin is now widespread among adolescent addicts.
However, alcohol remains the prime gateway drug to the use of illicit drugs for teenagers.
Despite the increasing rate of addiction among young people, Aislinn says a comprehensive nationwide study has yet to be undertaking to assess the scale of the issue and decide what steps to take.
Aislinn Centre director Declan Jones yesterday called on the Government to acknowledge the increasing rate of adolescent addiction.
"Without national figures we simply cannot put the adequate resources in place to solve this problem," he said at the launch of the centre's annual report.
"It is estimated that alcohol is responsible for 1,500 deaths each year in Ireland. In 2004, it was found that Irish school children demonstrate the highest rate of drunkenness in Europe, but without knowing the exact figures there is no way of knowing the extent of treatment to be made available."
The Co Kilkenny centre, which deals with clients from all over the country, has had to increase its bed nights from 3,650 in 2008 to 4,380 this year.
Mr Jones said that the average age of clients in recent years was between 16-19 years. But in the past 18 months 15-year-olds have become more common in the centre -- many of them girls.
"If these young people continue to drink, there will be very high morbidity levels in middle age," he warned.
A recent survey carried out by Aislinn found that 90pc of people think that there is a problem in Ireland with alcohol abuse among 13-18-year-olds, while 76pc said they believed that young people aged 15-18 who drink alcohol regularly are more likely to also experiment with illegal drugs.