The number of British children being treated for cocaine addiction has increased by 50% in three years, figures showed today.
Last year 745 under 18s in England sought help from the National Treatment Agency for cocaine abuse, up from 453 in 2005/6.
Among them was a small group of very young children. Fourteen 12- to 14-year-olds and 169 14-16 year-olds needed help to get off the Class A drug.
The figures showed 15 children aged 12 or younger were treated for all Class A drug use last year.
Overall, nearly 25,000 under 18s needed addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol misuse last year, an increase of 150.
Half of those were for cannabis, more than a third for alcohol, but fewer teenagers are seeking treatment for crack and heroin.
Last year the agency treated 657 crack and heroin users, down from 1,081 in 2005/6.
Rosanna O’Connor, director of delivery at the NTA, said the figures indicated the heroin “epidemic” had peaked.
The falls reflect similar declines in crack and heroin use among young adults aged 18 to 24.
She said: “Most young people receiving substance misuse interventions cannot be described as addicts in the same way as adults in treatment.
“Addiction is normally the result of regular, consistent use of substances over time; most under-18s who have problems have not pursued drug taking long enough to result in dependency.”