Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2000
Date: 04/06/2000
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Author: Hilary Kinnell and Nick Davies

Teenage heroin and crack use are serious matters: equally
worrying is the poor drugs knowledge reported (Heroin:
abusers start at 15, April 5), but this does not justify
alarmist reporting of a very small survey.

Between 5% and 20% of 86 respondents in four towns means no more than
four teenagers have reported being offered heroin in each place. This
is hardly news. I'm sure I could find as many within 24 hours, and
without any Department of Health funding, in my village.

HIV prevention and drugs workers have known heroin use was widespread
in these places for at least 10 years, but if agencies are not
reaching younger users, it is because they have not had the resources
to expand their services: underfunding of drug treatment and care is a
scan dal the Guardian has recently mentioned.

What can be the excuse for researchers from Manchester University to
be unaware of the publications from Manchester Lifeline? McDermott's
Guide to Brown for Beginners, for example, is just one of numerous
drugs leaflets for young people using their own language.

Neither is the present relative ubiquity of crack, compared with the
late 80s, a shocking new development. Ten years ago crack was rare
everywhere except in the fevered imagination of tabloid journalism.

Hilary Kinnell, European Network for HIV Prevention in Prostitution