Published: 31 March 2004
Children attending addiction treatment services in Dublin, 1990-1999
In Europe, adolescent substance misuse increased during the 1990s. Ireland had among the highest rates of substance misuse among schoolchildren in Europe. This paper seeks to describe the socio-demographic and drug misuse profile of children presenting to addiction treatment services in Dublin during the 1990s. Of the 9,874 individuals who sought addiction treatment, 1, 953 (20%) were aged less than 18 years. There was a sharp increase in the number of children after 1993. The main drug of abuse was an opiate in 48% of cases. Compared to adults, the children were more likely to be female and less likely to inject. As the decade progressed the proportion of girls increased, injecting was reported more frequently and there was a dramatic rise in heroin misuse. Child heroin users were more likely to be female and to be homeless compared with adults. This study highlights the need for a dedicated service for child drug users in Dublin.