South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway early drink and drug intervention urged

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A report has suggested dozens of teenage boys across Dumfries and Galloway could be taking drugs "most days of the week".

The substance misuse needs assessment has recommended early intervention as the best method of tackling the issue.

It said nearly 150 boys aged between 15 to 17 may be using drugs regularly.

The figure, an estimate partly based on a 2013 survey of 700 young people in the region, will be presented to councillors next week.

Among its other key findings are:

  • a general consensus among stakeholders that underage drinking was the region's biggest issue
  • potentially 2,000 to 3,000 young people across the region affected by parental alcohol or drug misuse
  • 40% of 13-year-olds and 81% of 15-year-olds reported having had an alcoholic drink - both above the Scottish average
  • vodka perceived as the most problematic drink by most young people
  • a widespread belief that services are centred on Dumfries and Nithsdale to the detriment of other areas
  • barriers to access to services due to rurality are magnified due to dependence on perceived poor public transport

It concluded that early intervention and family-based programmes were the most likely to succeed in improving the situation.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said the estimates about drink and drug use had been extrapolated from the 2013 survey - and should be treated with a degree of caution.

A spokesperson said: "Young people across Dumfries and Galloway are similar to those across the rest of Scotland in that they are more likely to drink alcohol than take drugs.

"Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drug Partnership are involved in a variety of local initiatives for secondary schools such as Big World which provides information on a variety of topics such as substance misuse in the Annandale and Eskdale area.

"Similar school input is provided in Wigtownshire and Stewartry via Do the Right Thing.

"The annual Youth Beatz event in Nithsdale also provides awareness raising issues around alcohol and drug misuse."

Dumfries and Galloway Council's social services committee chairman Jim Dempster said it was important to put the figures in context with 97% of 13-year-olds never having tried drugs.

'Good work'

"NHS Dumfries and Galloway leads on substance misuse and it is vital that, working in partnership with a range of agencies, it has appropriate measures in place to prevent and deal with substance misuse by young people," he said.

"Early intervention is obviously the most successful and cost-effective way to prevent substance misuse problems in young people.

"Providing the best possible start in life for all our children is a priority for our council administration."

He said there were many areas where steps were being taken to highlight the dangers of substance misuse.

"Examples of good work done in our region include The World of Wonka, which is part of the annual Youth Beatz festival," he said.

"Run by the council with key partners, World of Wonka delivers a themed experience designed and delivered in collaboration with young people for young people."

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