The number of children addicted to alcohol and drugs in Waltham Forest has almost doubled in less than five years.
A Freedom of Information Act request (FOI) submitted to the Public Health team at Waltham Forest Council has revealed that there are more than 150 teenagers currently being treated for addiction in the borough.
There are also a number of under 13’s currently undergoing treatment.
In 2010/11 there were 69 children under the age of 18, 35 children under the age of 16 and less than five under 13’s being treated for addiction.
This year, there are 110 under 18’s, 42 under 16’s and less than five under 13’s suffering from addiction.
However, the number has decreased in the last twelve months by one under 18 and 12 under 16’s.
At present there are 769 people in total being treated for addiction in the borough.
The FOI request revealed that this costs the Public Health team £323,000 per year in a joint contract with Turning Point which provides information and advice for addicts.
Each year £182,000 is spent on rehab services for both adults and children.
Councillor Ashan Khan, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing in Waltham Forest claims that the rise reflects a boost in the amount of support offered to youths.
He said: “The Council has really stepped up its game with regard to referrals into Substance Misuse Treatment and the increased numbers of young people being treated over the past few years is a reflection of a greater number of individuals being identified as appropriate for that level of support, rather than being indicative of an increase in the scale of the problem borough-wide.
“In 2010/11 only 7 young people were referred for Substance Misuse Treatment from our Youth Offending Service (YOS), which represented just 15 per cent of all referrals.
“Not everyone abusing substances requires referral onto the programme, but it is important that those with more significant issues are identified and helped in this way.”
He added that it is ‘important’ that the council helps young addicts who can often add to crime and anti-social behaviour levels in the borough, affecting the wider community.