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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Cocaine users 'getting younger'
The charity claims more young people are abusing cocaine
A growing number of children and young adults are seeking help for cocaine addiction, a report by a leading drugs charity has claimed.

DrugScope's annual poll of UK drug workers also indicated that dealers are offering "economy" cocaine, putting it within reach of younger people.

The anecdotal evidence shows the cheaper cocaine is being sold for 30 a gram, while "luxury" costs 50.

The cheaper cocaine is laced with additives to keep the cost down.

The survey questioned 80 drug services and police forces in 20 towns and cities across the UK, including Belfast, Cardiff, London and York.

DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes described the 2007 Street Drug Trends survey as "worrying" .

"We do not wish to exaggerate the extent of cocaine use but our survey does reveal some worrying trends," he said.

"The use among young people, the drug's affordability and the combination with alcohol and other drugs is clearly a concern."

'Two-tier market'

He said there was little evidence to show that current efforts to tackle supply were having an effect on availability and price of cocaine.

"Dealers are able to meet the demands of different users by creating a two-tier market," he added.

A worker at a Manchester drugs charity told the survey: "We are seeing the age of first use and of problem use dropping. The proliferation of cocaine is going mental.

"We are seeing many young people start using at 15 and getting into problems when they are 18."

The poll also suggests that while the price of most drugs remained stable from the 2006 survey, heroin slumped again to 43 a gram.

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