Concern over rise in children admitted to West Sussex hospitals for substance misuse

A rehabilitation centre has spoken out after new figures showed an alarming rise in the number of children being admitted to West Sussex hospitals for drug abuse.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 5:10 pm

Public Health England data has revealed that more children aged between 15 and 24 have been admitted to our hospitals for substance misuse in recent years than ever before.

The data on Child and Maternal Health shows that in West Sussex, between 2017/18 and 2019/20 235 children aged 15-24 years were admitted to hospital for substance misuse; five more than the previous time frame and more than double than when records began ten years ago (122 admissions).

Public Health England has compiled hospital admissions data based on the primary diagnosis relating to mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of a wide-range of substances, including opioids like heroin, as well as cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens and sedatives or hypnotics like sleeping pills. The data also accounts for those admitted for the toxic effect of organic solvents or other gases, fumes or vapours, which include ‘laughing gas’.

Nuno Albuquerque, photo from UKAT

Hospital admissions in West Sussex have been steadily rising since 2015/16, as experts warn this trend should be ‘in the opposite direction’.

The UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT) says it has analysed the data and warns that substance misuse at such an early age can have monumental repercussions on mental health, behaviour and can ultimately cause addiction.

Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment for the UKAT Group which operates a drug rehabilitation facility in West Sussex said: “It’s saddening to see the number of young children needing hospitalisation due to drug misuse rising in West Sussex, especially as one of our treatment facilities – Recovery Lighthouse – is based in Worthing.

“Abusing drugs to this extent at such a young age can lead to a child developing disruptive behaviour disorders, including being truant from school, homelessness, unemployment, and involvement in crime.

“Notwithstanding, regular drug misuse of substances like cannabis, cocaine or even drugs like laughing gas may also lead to dependence and addiction.

“We’d hope that for these children in particular, their parents and wider support networks including their schools are willing to become more involved in supporting and educating them on the dangers of drug misuse, in order to save that child’s future. There are guides and information packs on how to do this available on our website for those who need them.”