Suffolk: Fewer young people are becoming addicted to heroin and crack cocaine, expert says

Simon Aalders co-ordinator of Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action team.

Simon Aalders co-ordinator of Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action team. - Credit: Archant

THE number of young people in the county addicted to hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine has fallen over three years.

New figures published by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) show since 2008/09 the number of heroin and crack users in Suffolk has decreased from 2,411 to 2,275 in 2010/11. A breakdown of users by age has shown in the same period those users aged 15 to 24 fell from 415 to 385.

Simon Aalders, co-ordinator of Suffolk’s Drug and Alcohol Team, said they are seeing more people in their mid-30s requiring treatment, a contrast to a decade ago when most addicts were in their early 20s.

The NTA figures show for the age group 25 to 34 the number of heroin and crack users has risen from 695 in 2008/09 to 722 in 2010/11.

For the 36 to 64-year-old group – the highest number of users – there has been a slight fall from 1,301 to 1,168 users in the last four years.

Mr Aalders said treatment agencies often focus on heroin and crack users because they are the group of drug users facing the greatest social problems and most likely to be involved in criminal activity.

Despite the fall, Mr Aalders said across the board, there has been an increase in people seeking treatment for all drug use.

Most Read

He said the rise is positive, reflecting the fact services designed to help drug users, are easier to access and more effective.

“We have noticed the average age of drug users has changed. What that says is that fewer young people are turning to drug use. It means our messages are making an impact.

“We are not saying there is no drug use among young people but rather there is a smaller proportion than in previous years.

“One of the things we have noticed in Suffolk is that we are seeing more people, using all types of drugs, than ever before. But that suggests that services are very accessible, that people know about the service and understand substance misuse.”

Mr Aalders added: “It also suggests the stigma around the issue is not as great as it once was because people clearly feel able to come to the service for help. And hopefully it suggests when someone goes to the service, treatment is effective which in turn will encourage people to seek help.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter