News story

PHE publishes report on substance misuse treatment for young people

New data on young people’s substance misuse treatment shows that specialist services in England continue to work well.


A new report out today (8 January 2015) contains the latest statistics on specialist substance misuse treatment for young people in England during 2013 to 2014.

The data for 2013 to 2014 shows that specialist substance misuse services in England continue to respond well to the needs of young people who have alcohol and drug problems. The function these services provide is vital: they intervene to help young people overcome their substance misuse problems and prevent them from becoming problematic users in adulthood.

Figures from the report:

  • there were 19,126 young people in specialist substance misuse services in 2013 to 2014, a decrease from the 20,032 treated in 2012 to 2013: these numbers have fallen for the fourth year running, from a peak of 24,053 in 2008 to 2009
  • in 2013 to 2014, 13,659 young people presented to specialist services with cannabis as their primary substance (71% of all young people receiving help during the year); a further 14% of young people had cannabis as an adjunctive (secondary or tertiary) drug
  • alcohol was the primary problem substance in 3,776 cases in 2013 to 2014 (20% of the total), down substantially from the peak of 8,799 (37%) in 2008 to 2009; a further 35% of young people had alcohol as their adjunctive substance in 2013 to 2014
  • the number of young people with heroin as their primary substance fell to 160 (down from 881 in 2005 to 2006) and is at the lowest recorded level.
  • 12,510 young people left specialist substance misuse services in 2013 to 2014, and 9,852 (79%) of these did so having successfully completing their care plan, no longer requiring specialist treatment: this proportion has remained the same since 2012 to 2013

With the right support from local authorities, the NHS and other partners, specialist substance misuse services can continue to focus on what they do best: ensuring that young people who need help get it quickly and that they receive appropriate, personalized support to overcome their alcohol or drug problems.

Published 8 January 2015