Barking and Dagenham drink and drug abuse highest in London

� Barking and Dagenham Council has extended its contract with a substance misuse charity after it was revealed that it had London’s highest number of young people in drug and alcohol treatment in 2010/11.

The number accessing treatment increased in one year, jumping from 204 in 2009/10 to 349 the following year.

The news emerged as councillors voted for a re-tender of the substance misuse service, SubWize, run by Crime Reduction Initiatives, during a cabinet meeting.

A report said the need for drug services is on track to increase by almost a fifth among 10 to 14-year-olds and by two per cent among 15 to 19-year-olds in the next five years.

SubWize youth worker, Simone James, said: “Our work is about engagement and partnership. We don’t tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Instead we ask them, ‘what are your goals’. Our focus is recovery. We have a lot of success stories, where we have helped young people into employment or education.”

The organisation, in Wakering Road, Barking aims to keep people away from drugs and criminal activities through outreach work and counselling and support for drug or alcohol users and their family and friends.

SubWize makes home visits, holds drop in sessions or presentations to secondary schools and receives referrals from schools, community centres or the mobile youth bus. Of the 349 people who had contact with SubWize, 242 received structured treatment, 120 have left treatment and 80 completed treatment as planned, of which 50 went back to occasional alcohol and drug use. According to the report before members at the meeting, 30 are alcohol and drug free.

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The largest increase in demand for drugs and alcohol services is predicted for Barking wards Thames (78 per cent), Gascoigne (34 per cent) and Abbey (13 per cent).SubWize is funded by the Department of Health (�124,500), the council (�110,500), Outer North East London NHS Trust (�71,300) and the Youth Justice Board (�22,700).

The total worth of the contract is �877,333 over a two year and eight month period, for which the service has been signed off.