HUNDREDS of youngsters - some as young as 15 - are addicted to heroin and crack cocaine according to shocking new NHS statistics.
The figures, released by Public Health England show that in 2011/12 there were an estimated 1,869 heroin and crack addicts in the borough - 195 of whom were aged between 15-24.
However, while health chiefs agree work needs to be done to tackle the issue, the figures have fallen from previous estimates. There were 2002 addicts in the borough in 2009/10.
Professor Kate Arden director of public health at Wigan Council said: “The reduction in opiate and crack users is encouraging, and reflects the strong effort of local drug and alcohol services along with partner agencies in tackling problematic drug use in the borough. Wigan has an integrated drug and alcohol service which provides a range of support services for people who want help with a drug and alcohol problem.”
In September last year it was also revealed that the number of local people overdosing on so-called party drugs has doubled in the last two years.
Figures released by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust show that 26 patients were admitted to hospital for poisoning with recreational stimulants in 2011, but this had soared to 59 last year.
And in the first six months of the year alone, another 28 people have been rushed to A&E suffering from the effects of mephedrone and ecstasy,
Rosanna O’Connor, director of alcohol and drugs at Public Health England said: “These latest figures show a continuing fall in people using the most dangerous drugs and it is particularly encouraging that injecting amongst opiate and crack users has reduced significantly.
“Building on these positive findings, the message we are continuing to get is that local public health systems are rising to the challenge of tackling drug use and related health harms, and that they are striving to meet the recovery ambition outlined in the 2010 drug strategy.
“However, there is no room for complacency, and alongside this encouraging evidence, we remain vigilant to the major substance misuse challenges – such as reaching an ageing population of entrenched opiate users, and protecting younger people from the harms of newer substances.”
For a free and completely confidential service for anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking or drug problem call 0800 3894463.
For advice and support, please contact:
Adults, please contact 01942 487578.
Young People, please contact 01942 777720