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Young People: Drugs

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to reduce the proportion of young people frequently using (a) illegal drugs, (b) alcohol and (c) volatile substances. (240728)

The new 10-year Drug Strategy (February 2008) and the Youth Alcohol Action Plan (June 2008) commit the Government to reducing harm arising to young people from the misuse of drugs, alcohol and volatile substances.

The drug strategy, “Drugs: Protecting Families and Communities” identifies families as a key priority and highlights the need for early intervention and support to prevent future problems for children. It proposes a programme of intensive support services to reach the most chaotic families through programmes such as the Family Interventions Project, and Family Pathfinders to develop local systems and services that improve outcomes for families at risk.

The Youth Alcohol Action Plan sets out a number of actions to address the problems of young people's alcohol consumption. Government will provide clearer health information for parents and young people about how consumption of alcohol can affect children and young people. This will include the Chief Medical Officer's guidelines on safer drinking by young people and a comprehensive communications campaign aimed at 11 to 15-year-olds to be launched in spring 2009. The Youth Alcohol Action Plan also sets out measures to tackle the problems arising from young people drinking in public places, and to work with the alcohol industry to ensure alcohol is marketed and promoted in a responsible way.

In line with recommendations from an independent review of drug and alcohol education, Ministers announced on 30 October 2008 that personal health and social education (PHSE) would be made a statutory subject. This underlines the key role PHSE has to play in young people's personal development.

For those young people that do develop a problem, having accessible and good quality specialist treatment available for them in all areas of England is a vital part of our approach. DCSF is working closely with the National Treatment Agency to continue to improve the accessibility and quality of substance misuse treatment for young people.