Drug dependence in detained youth high

Figures released by the AIHW this week indicate that the rate of offenders sent to youth detention has fallen slightly nationwide since 2009. This has been attributed mainly to a drop in sentencing rates from 1.6 to 1.2 per 10,000 people aged 10–17.

However, a separate study carried out by researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne was based on interviews with 500 youths in the state either serving time in detention or completing community based orders.

Two thirds of those sentenced to detention were found to be dependent on alcohol, cannabis, heroin, amphetamines or sedatives. Marijuana dependence was the most commonly reported problem among survey participants.

Meanwhile more than a third (34%) of those carrying out community orders reported substance dependence of some type, while almost half of those in detention (48%) had at some point injected themselves with an illegal drug.