Opposition MLA, Mr McCarthy said: “Today’s news that substance abuse treatment among local young people has tripled in two years is extremely disturbing. The Health and Education Ministers must consider creating a stronger joined-up approach to move these young people away from substance abuse.
“They must look to devising a more comprehensive strategy to tackle this problem at its source, in order to give these young people a better future away from the hands of drug dealers and dependence on alcohol. Any such strategy should emphasis awareness of health risks and should underline the path that many who get involved in substance abuse take.
“By tackling this problem and cutting the number of people involved in these areas we can dramatically cut anti-social behaviour and crime, both now and in the future.
“Today’s revelations are even more worrying as they come just weeks after another report which showed that children as young as eleven are taking harmful drugs such as cannabis.
“The Health Minister Michael McGimpsey also recently turned down funding for a substance abuse treatment unit for teenagers. He must surely examine this decision in light of today’s report.”