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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Youth drink and drug aid revealed
More than 500 youngsters are in treatment for drink or drugs problems
More than 500 youngsters are in treatment for drink or drugs
More than 500 youngsters in Scotland are in treatment for drink or drugs problems, new figures have revealed.

The Scottish Executive disclosed the figures for under 17s in an answer to a parliamentary question from Tory justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell.

The Conservatives said the figures were "absolutely horrendous" and demanded a change of government policy.

The Scottish Executive said more people entering treatment could be a sign that extra services were available.

The statistics showed that there were 548 children and young people aged 16 and under reported as coming forward for treatment in 2004-05.

Ms Mitchell said she feared more young people could need help.

She said: "It is more than likely that with the known shortage of rehabilitation places, these figures do not reveal the full extent of the problem."

Strong enforcement

The Tory MSP called on the executive to use the experiences of rehabilitated addicts to warn youngsters about the dangers of drugs, together with a "zero tolerance" approach.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "Of course it's a concern that young people fall prey to the evil dealers who prey upon them.

"That's why we have a strong enforcement policy through the drug enforcement agency and the other police forces.

"But we also have to challenge - and keep challenging - the demand for drugs."

He stressed the importance of education in helping young people stay clear of drugs, stating this was now available in every school.

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