Addicted to drugs, age fourby Claudio Tamburrino - 2014.05.28
Can you become addicted to a substance, whether it's alcohol or drugs, at just 10 years old - or even four? According to reports from Britain's NHS, you can. In reply to an inquiry about the youngest patient to suffer from addiction in the past three years, submitted under the Freedom of Information Act, the NHS referred to two children aged 10, from Bury and Rochdale (Manchester), who were treated in Liverpool, and a Scottish child aged four, who was put in the care of specialists because of substance abuse.
The health service of course didn't supply more details on these cases, not even specifying the drug that caused addiction in the three children. In cases involving children, the priority is discretion and privacy. However, these are not three isolated incidences but just the tip of the iceberg of a problem that should seriously worry authorities. According to the AddAction foundation, drug abuse often affects disadvantaged families, where the parents themselves are already fighting drug dependence. But the problem isn't limited to families from this background.
According to figures released by the NHS, about 366 children in England under the age of 12 were treated for drug addiction between 2012 and 2013. In most cases (60%) the offending substance is cannabis, alcohol is to blame in 30% of cases and other substances, including solvents, account for the remainder. These numbers shed light on some of the darker facets of British society. As part of its response, an advisor to the British government has proposed the introduction of classes on the risks of substance abuse on the school curriculum.
For now, the Department of Education allows teachers to use their professional judgement in dealing with problematic situations. In fact it's often the teachers or social workers who first spot problems of this sort, often trying to tackle the issue through the family first of all and then through health services. However, teachers certainly can't tackle the problem alone.
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