Scotland has been struggling to fight the war on drugs for many years now. It has been reported that Scotland has one of the worst drug problems in Europe, if not the world. Also, shocking figures have revealed that, in the past year, more than two hundred children under the age of three have been referred to drug and alcohol addiction specialists in Scotland. These figures came to light after a freedom of information request by the Daily Record. However, it is thought that the figures will, in fact, be higher as not all councils responded to the request.
Exposure to Substances
In East Lothian, seventy children were referred to specialist services and of this figure, a number were unborn babies to mothers with addiction. Those under the age of three required professional help because of being exposed to substance abuse in their home.
There are also thousands of children with drug and alcohol problems, with one five-year-old from Stirling being referred for personal alcohol addiction. Another child from Stirling, aged just eight, was also referred for drug abuse.
The number of under sixteens referred to specialist services has increased by fourteen per cent. Of 2121 referred, almost thirty per cent had substance abuse issues.
In Scotland, approximately 51,000 children are living with parents who have alcohol problems. According to Alcohol Focus Scotland’s Barbara O’Donnell, “Children are especially vulnerable to alcohol harm, and it is worrying these figures suggest increase in the numbers who are affected.”
She also pointed out that because children’s brains are still developing, they are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. She believes that more needs to be done to protect these children, and more needs to be done to help the families and prevent these children being affected in the first place.
Ms O’Donnell believes that society is very much pro-alcohol, with cheap prices and heavy advertising. She says that action must be taken on availability, price and advertising of alcohol if children are to be protected from harm.
The county of Fife had the highest number of child referrals with 564. Of those, a five-year-old was sent for counselling. According to Mark Steven from Fife Alcohol & Drug Partnership, “The vast majority of these referrals are to provide support and therapeutic services for children whose parents misuse substances.”
The point of the referrals is to ensure that children understand their situation and to help them be positive in the choices they make.
Mr Steven said that the remainder of the referrals made is for teenagers with personal experience in substance misuse but who are not addicts. He said, “They are young people who have a variety of issues to cope with in their lives, and we’re providing help and advice when drugs or alcohol become a factor.”
Addiction affects many families across the UK and, unfortunately, children often become caught in the crossfire. Nonetheless, if addiction is treated early, more children will be prevented from suffering the same fate as their parents.
If you or a loved one is suffering because of addiction, call Rehab Helper today. We can provide you with invaluable advice and support as well as information on where to get help. We have a team of professionals with experience and expertise in all areas of addiction, and they are waiting to take your call today.