The number of young people being treated for problems with benzodiazepines has almost doubled from the previous year, with treatment for alprazolam rising by over 500%.
The report, based on figures by Public Health England [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/substance-misuse-treatment-for-young-people-statistics-2017-to-2018/alcohol-and-drug-treatment-for-young-people-statistics-summary-2017-to-2018] shows that in 2016, 161 kids under the age of 18 accessed public treatment services for benzodiazepine misuse. This almost doubled in 2017 to 315 young people requiring help.
Xanax was the benzodiazepine which saw the biggest increase, rising by 560% from just 8 kids needing treatment in 2016 to 53 in 2017.
Dr Durrani, Group Psychiatrist at addiction treatment specialists UKAT, warned of the medical dangers of early misuse of benzodiazepines, saying: "Benzodiazepines work by literally slowing down the function of the brain. When taken, they enhance the actions of a chemical in the brain known as GABA, acting as a leveller in times of high stress, over-excitement or anxiety. When GABA levels are artificially increased by Benzo's, serious side effects can occur, including slurring words or even total blackouts.
"Unfortunately, at UKAT, we're seeing more and more young people admitting themselves after becoming addicted to Benzos. In most cases, their misuse stemmed from using the drug recreationally at parties and mixing it with alcohol, which proves a toxic combination."
UKAT has seven private residential rehab clinics across the UK and admissions for Xanax addiction have almost doubled in the last year, with almost half of those admissions being for under 25 year olds.
The report also highlights the other types of drugs that under 18 year olds are seeking treatment for, with cannabis remaining the most common drug by far as 88% of young people in treatment seeking help for this drug.
Cannabis is closely followed by alcohol, with 7,206 young people (almost half of all seeking treatment) receiving treatment in 2017.
Treatment for crack cocaine also increased in 2017 compared to 2016 from 83 to 98 and those seeking help for problems with ecstasy went up by 16%.