Headlines: November 8th, 2006



More than three quarters of people being treated for drug and alcohol dependency took drugs for the first time before they were sixteen. A new survey today shows that 39 per cent of those being treated by Phoenix Futures first took a drug under the age of 13, that is almost four times higher than was the case a decade ago.

The survey was carried out among clients currently attending the charity’s residential, prison, and community services throughout England and Scotland. It has been released as the organisation, formerly called Phoenix House, launches its new identity and a new website aimed at professionals in social care, health and the education sectors as well as to members of the public. The site – www.phoenix-futures.org.uk – has detailed information on how to recognise the signs of alcohol or drug dependency. It also examines why people turn to drugs and alcohol, what leads to their seeking treatment and the factors that act as barriers to recovery.

Phoenix Futures says the findings in today’s survey highlight the importance of offering the hope of a new future to people with long term dependency problems. More than half the clients who took part had been dependent on drugs or alcohol for more than ten years. The results show many of those now seeking treatment had lived in extreme social exclusion. More than 40 per cent had lost their jobs and the same proportion of mothers had their children taken into care. More than half those surveyed had been in prison. The most common motivator for seeking help was the desire to end dependency, which was cited by 82 per cent of respondents. Three-quarters wanted to build a better future and almost as many wanted to re-establish relationships with their children.

By contrast, the most common reasons for previous attempts to give up having failed were an inability to face feelings and emotions, relationship problems, not getting the right treatment and not seeing any point in the future. This, the charity says, strengthens the argument that residential programmes should not be seen as a treatment of last resort.