Concerns have been expressed over figures suggesting that injecting drug users in Dumfries and Galloway start their habit as young as 13

The Scottish Drug Misuse Database statistics said the majority of drug users questioned in the region had started injecting under the age of 20.

The figures – for individuals who had injected in the past month – cover the year up to March 2005.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan called it “very alarming”.

National concern was raised about the issue when an 11-year-old girl in Glasgow was taken to hospital when she collapsed in school after smoking heroin.

Agencies in Dumfries and Galloway said it was a problem which needed to be faced on a day-to-day basis.

“This has got to be tackled constantly, not just when there are headlines about it,” said Raymond Carvill of Stranraer Against Drugs.

He also raised concerns about the collapse of a drugs information scheme piloted in local primary schools which he said was a great success.

Lead officer for substance misuse for Dumfries and Galloway Council and NHS, Jim Parker, said they were still looking at rolling that project out across the region.

“There are a number of areas we want to develop at the moment,” he confirmed.

“It is utilising the funding we have got against the priorities we have got.”

Mr Morgan has called for serious and sustained investment to tackle the issue.

“These numbers represent an extremely small proportion of those under 19,” he said.

“It is very worrying, however, that any proportion of our young people have so few prospects in their lives that they have turned to the hardest of drugs.”

Source: BBC News Feb.07 2006

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