Borders youngsters under the age of 10 years are among hundreds across the UK referred for specialist drug and alcohol treatment.
A Press Association Freedom of Information request about the number of children under 10 years old referred for such treatment has revealed the scale of the problem. Their investigation found that 15 local authorities had referred at least one child aged 10 or lower for treatment in the past three years.
Scottish Borders Council responded, revealing that the youngest child they had treated was nine years old.
A spokesperson from Borders Alcohol & Drugs Partnership (ADP) said: “There is no evidence to suggest that there is problematic substance misuse amongst children in the Borders. Our response to the FOI request in question was based on data from our local children and young people’s substance misuse service.
“Children and young people may be referred to the service for a number of different reasons. We would intervene if a child had begun to experiment with drugs or alcohol, but also where there is a need for education, for example where children are in contact with adults or siblings who are using drugs or alcohol.
“Referrals can also cover occasions where children have unintentionally ingested alcohol in the home.
“ADP co-ordinates an ongoing educational programme in schools across the Borders warning of the dangers of substance misuse.”
Drug education charities described the figures as “shocking” but on a positive note the number of UK children aged 12 and under referred for drug or alcohol treatment last year had dropped by around 80 from the previous year and school education programmes continue.