Call for measures to cut substance abuse among Flintshire’s young people

NEW figures have revealed the extent of substance abuse among young people in Flintshire. A new report revealed that more than 200 young people across the county were referred for specialist treatment from the young persons’ drug and alcohol team (YPDAT), in 2008.

Alcohol abuse accounted for nearly half of the referrals to the YPDAT team, with 68 people aged 18 or under being given intervention treatment for cannabis abuse.

Young people who misuse class A substances such as cocaine, heroin and ecstasy accounted for nearly 13 per cent of cases.

The figures showed substance misuse problems occurred more in men aged 17 and 16-year-old women, but in a presentation to Flintshire’s social and health overview and scrutiny committee, YPDAT operations manager Lesley Bailey said children as young as 10 had been referred to the team.

She added: “The highest number of referrals in the 16 to 17-year-old age range come from the Youth Justice Service.

“Targeted education goes to younger people aged 12 and 13, as we have found that this is when we find that children start to experiment with substances.

“It is about taking preventative measures.”

Mrs Bailey cited a number of hotspots across the county where large groups of young people have been seen gathering to drink alcohol which included Sealand Manor, Parkfield in Mold and the woods in Mostyn.

Saltney Councillor Veronica Gay said there was a ‘major problem’ of gangs of youths drinking in Ewart Street, Saltney.

As part of a major crackdown on substance misuse in the county, the YPDAT team has undertaken a varied programme of outreach services in towns, villages, youth clubs and schools across Flintshire.

A youth information shop has also been set up in Buckley town centre.

Despite a grant securing YPDAT support staff for three years, executive member for social services, Cllr Carol Ellis said future funding for the service was a ‘major issue’.

YPDAT’s work was praised by the committee who recommended to ask Flintshire’s executive committee to make more funds available to ensure that the ‘vital’ service could continue.