NI: Law centre calls for dedicated inpatient facility for young people with drug and alcohol issues
Northern Ireland needs a dedicated inpatient facility for young people with drug and alcohol issues, the Children’s Law Centre (CLC) has said.
In a written submission to the Department of Health’s consultation on a substance abuse strategy, the law centre said there may be a “critical mass” of children and young people with alcohol and drugs issues who require in-patient facilities.
It states: “Many of the young people CLC has worked with have been treated through a mixture of community services and for some who have a co-occurring mental health issue, at the Beechcroft Unit.
“Unfortunately, some young people, who do not have a diagnosable mental health issue and are therefore not suitable for treatment at the Beechcroft Unit, will fit the criteria for secure accommodation at Lakewood.
“Whilst this provides them with a safe environment it does not given them access to the range of services for drug and alcohol issues that they require. Other children with drugs and alcohol issues find themselves in Woodlands JJC.”
The CLC notes that a separate consultation on a new combined campus incorporating the existing Lakewood Regional Secure Care Centre and Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre does not explain what services would be available there to young people with substance misuse issues.
It adds: “There is a need for residential provision for young people with substance misuse in NI. The absence of robust disaggregated data in respect of children and young people in NI with alcohol and drugs issues who require in-patient facilities makes it difficult to accurately determine if the numbers are such as to justify a purpose build unit.
“However anecdotal evidence would suggest that there may be a critical mass, and therefore a dedicated in-patient unit specifically designed to address the needs of young people with drugs and alcohol misuse issues would be a welcome development.”