YOUNG people in South Lakeland are abusing cannabis and prescription pills to ‘concerning’ levels, according to a drink and drugs advisory service.

Recreational drug use is said to be ‘high’ and County Lines drug dealing and the internet is making drug purchasing ‘easier than ever,’ found a report to county councillors representing South Lakeland.

Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) has said there is ‘anecdotal evidence’ of young people abusing cannabis and prescription drugs such as Xanax, which is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

While there has been a fall in the number of young people drinking alcohol, those who are drink ‘much more harmfully,’ according to CADAS.

In addition, the admission rates for young people to Accident and Emergency  in South Lakeland for excess alcohol, are also said to be a concern.

The report went before South Lakeland Local Committee which has agreed to invest in a new project by CADAS to help young people.

Cllr Roger Bingham said drug and alcohol abuse affected young people in the countryside as well as ‘disadvantaged’ parts of the district.

Cllr Bingham, the Conservative councillor for Lower Kentdale, said: “Young people go away to school and university and are just as prone to temptation as children from much more disadvantaged areas. The countryside needs to recognised as a vulnerable area as well.”

Cllr Shirley Evans, the children and young people’s champion for South Lakeland said hospital admissions among young people after drinking bouts had caused concern.

“We know that pressures on young people are also increasing from people outside our area in terms of County Lines drug dealing,” said Cllr Evans, the Liberal Democrat for Kendal Nether.

As a result of the concerns, South Lakeland county councillors have now committed £6,700 to CADAS to take on a young people’s community worker.

CADAS is seeking more substantial funds but plans to pilot a South Lakeland Community Alcohol Partnership to bring a group of agencies together to work on the alcohol and young people agenda.

The aim of the young person’s worker is for young people to self refer and increase their knowledge about alcohol and drugs.

CADAS said: “They will know more about where and how to access help. Through the one-to-one work as their substance use reduces, they will be mentally healthier, they will gain understanding about any anxiety, stress or depression they are experiencing and learn coping strategies to help them manage this for themselves now and in the future.

“Young people will be able to make more informed and healthier choices, and unhealthy alcohol consumption and hopefully A&E admissions will reduce.”

Parents, schools, colleges, GPs, youth workers and social workers will be encouraged to ‘signpost’ young people to the CADAS service.