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Substance misuse in looked after children (LAC) of north east lincolnshire
  1. N Panwar1,
  2. O Wilson2
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, Halliwell Health & Children's centre, Bolton, UK
  2. 2Department of Paediatrics, Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby, UK

Abstract

Background National statistics of 2007 for looked after children (LAC) shows that 5.4% of total 44,200 had substance misuse problem and only 61.7% received intervention with 33.4% refusing offered interventions.

Aims To look into profile of substance misuse in LAC of NE Lincolnshire.

Details Clinical records of LAC aged >10 years (n=19) who have been in continuous care for 12 months on 30/09/07 were reviewed. We excluded cases that became looked after as result of being on remand.

Results 11 were boys, 13 were >16 years. Alcohol, Tobacco (n: 17 each) and Cannabis (n: 15) were commonly used substances. Interestingly, five children started misusing substances after becoming looked after. Substance misuse was related to significant events (n: 15) and included variety of injuries, self harm and self induced poisoning events. High risk sexual activity was reported by seven children in influence of substances. Alcohol and smoking misuse started at very young age; in two even before the age of 10. Most reported their first use at vulnerable age of 10–12 year, though none reported using cannabis or other substances earlier than 10 years. High proportion (n: 14) had mental health conditions, with behavioural problem being most prevalent. LAC have poorer health and suffer from various ailments due to number of reasons and our sample was no different with 8 out of 19 having medical health concerns. Incomplete immunisation (n: 3) and poor school attendance (n: 2) were a cause of concern. 13 were offered interventions but only 9 accepted.

Conclusion Substance misuse is major emerging health related concern in LAC teenagers. To ensure that LAC gain maximum life chance benefits, the substance misuse should be tackled and plans put into place to deal with the problem effectively by local councils and LAC teams.

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