Number of children treated for cannabis remains unimproved



Public Health England has revealed that a staggering 12,702 young people entered treatment last year because of problems with cannabis. The report shows that this figure is 88% of all young people in treatment for drugs and alcohol (14,485), proving just how lethal cannabis misuse can be.

The report also highlights that the proportion of young people requiring treatment for cannabis misuse has failed to improve in the last three years, sparking concern and anger from cannabis addiction treatment experts as the debate over legalisation continues.


The majority of young people in contact with drug and alcohol treatment services last year were aged just 15.  Alarmingly, over a thousand people treated specifically for cannabis problems were aged 13 or under, with a further 2,187 14-year olds receiving treatment for cannabis.

Almost all young people who received treatment last year (86%) live at home with their parents, yet it was their schools who processed the majority of referrals for children to receive the treatment and support they needed.

Today’s report has ignited the debate on cannabis legalisation in the UK, after a recent promise by Liberal Democrat’s Jo Swinson to legalise cannabis for those aged 18 and over in the current election campaign.

But cannabis addiction treatment experts at UKAT are concerned that these figures are not even scratching the surface of the problem in this country. Nuno Albuquerque, Group Treatment Lead at UKAT comments;

“Today’s report paints a worrying but incomplete picture; there will be thousands more out there struggling in silence.

“More thought should be given to the thousands of young people struggling with cannabis misuse as an illegal substance; to legalise it would open it up and almost encourage it on a mass scale.

“We treat upwards of 2,000 people every year at UKAT and we know through one to one and group therapy that the vast majority of their drug addictions started with cannabis. Not only is it a gateway drug, but it is dangerously addictive on its own. Legalising it will embed it socially into society, and this country will see future generations crippled with cannabis and alcohol problems.”

Canada was the second country to legalise cannabis, but one year on has just reported dismal results as pot smokers are reluctant to leave the black market behind.

For help and support with cannabis, visit


Photo byMargo Amalaon Unsplash



Follow the links to read more:
Substance misuse treatment for young people - 2018 to 2019. Released 28th November 2019


Three year trends in cannabis treatment


2018-19 -

Number in treatment for drugs and alcohol = 14,485

Number in treatment for cannabis only = 12,702 (88%)

2017-18 -

Number in treatment for drugs and alcohol = 15,583

Number in treatment for cannabis only = 13,713 (88%)

2016-17 -

Number in treatment for drugs and alcohol = 16,436

Number in treatment for cannabis only = 14,463 (88%)

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