Children as young as 13 addicted to cocaine

Coke dealer

Charity warns cocaine addiction is a huge problem across Scotland especially among young people 

10th July 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Teenagers as young as 13 are being treated for cocaine use according to a leading drug and alcohol recovery charity.

Addaction, the drug and alcohol charity, says the problem has become so bad it has lowered the age threshold for treatment at its South Lanarkshire service from 14 to 13 years old.  

Andrew Horne, its director in Scotland, warned that as the price of cocaine continues to fall, more teenagers and young people will have access to the drug.

Addaction’s Jacqueline Baker-Whyte, who works at the service in Hamilton, said: "We’ve had 13-year-olds attend our service for help with cocaine problems. It’s obviously a very small number of kids, but there are quite a few in the 15 plus age group."

In the past 18 months Addaction’s South Lanarkshire service has treated 62 people under 16 for drug and alcohol problems. The majority of clients aged 15 or older report regular personal cocaine use. The service has supported some clients under the age of 15 for cocaine.

Baker-Whyte continued: “In the past, cocaine was a drug for people with money. That’s no longer the case. It’s cheap, plentiful and easy to get. The quality is usually poor and the side effects can be horrendous.

“The problem with young people using cocaine is that it’s an appalling drug for growing brains. It’s hard to think of a worse substance for mental health; that’s aside from the significant physical effects and the problems with dependency.” 

In Argyll Bute, Addaction staff have noticed an increase in both availability and purity of cocaine. This means people can buy their usual batches in larger quantities, or instead buy a higher strength product for only slightly more than the going-rate.

It’s hard to think of a worse substance for mental health - Jacqueline Baker-Whyte

And in South Ayrshire, the charity is seeing people as young as 17 coming into their service, citing cocaine use as their primary problem. 

Staff at Addaction in Fife say they are seeing increased cocaine use in all age groups and are working with clients who are using cocaine in multiple ways (snorting, smoking, injecting). 

Stephanie Keenan, who leads Addaction’s web chat service said: “I get a lot of people using our chat function to get support for cocaine use. I think it’s almost a social norm in some circles. But the impact on mental health is devastating.

“A lot of people don’t realise the effects it has on the happy hormones in the brain.

The charity is advising parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about cocaine and substances in general.

Addaction runs a free and confidential web chat service  where people can seek help and support.