Took and Treated

As part of the thinking we’re doing about the future of Street Talk I was prompted to look at the difference between the numbers of young people who took drugs in the last year and the numbers that were treated for substance misuse problems.

The visualisation above describes the position in England based on an amalgamation of two data sources, the Home Office’s Drug Misuse Declared – which has data about young adult drug use – and the last Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England (SDD).

The treatment figures are from the NTA’s last report on young people’s substance misuse.

To get to the figure of 660,000 drug users I’ve had to do a bit of estimating based on the two surveys that measure prevalence.  Here are my workings:

  • According to the DfE there are about 600,000 young people in any given age.
  • SDD tells us that 8.2% of young people between 11 and 15 years old took drugs last year.  600,000 x 5 x 8.2% = 246,000
  • Drug Misuse Declared suggests that 23% of 16 to 19 year olds took a drug last year. 600,000 x 3 x 23% = 414,000

Both of these surveys will publish new results in the next few weeks, and if the positive trends in terms of prevalence continue we should see slightly fewer young people in the group that took drugs last year.  Nevertheless, the difference in size between the groups is a useful reminder of just how few drug using young people enter treatment.


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