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Leap in number of children treated for cocaine addiction

Growing numbers of children are being treated for cocaine addiction, figures revealed today.

Since 2005, the number of under-18s being helped to get off the drug has increased by more than 65%, NHS figures show. Treatment numbers for 18 to 24-year-olds doubled in the same period.

The study by the National Treatment Agency in England found three-quarters of users combined the drug with alcohol.

Mixing is thought to boost the high but also causes more damage to the heart and makes users more violent.

After six months of treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy, four in 10 addicts were clean, but nearly a quarter had dropped out of treatment.

Paul Hayes, chief executive of the NTA, said: "More people are using powder cocaine, more people are seeking help for dependency, and more are being successfully treated.

"Powder cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug which induces psychological rather than physical dependence.

"Most users will be treated locally in their communities with talking therapies rather than medication, and our message to users is that if they need help, they can get it and it works."

Last year 12,354 people were treated for cocaine addiction in England.

Between 2005-06 and 2008-09 the number of under-18s in treatment went from 453 to 745 and the number of 18 to 24-year-olds doubled from 1,586 to 3,005.

Around one in 10 adults in England and Wales now admit to having used cocaine at some point in their lifetime - a three-fold increase on 1996.

Typical users binge several times a month and are more likely to have steady jobs than heroin users.