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Inadequate Drug Treatment For Youth

Nine out of ten kids who need drug treatment are not getting it. The survey on Drug Abuse shows that 1.1 million children 12-17 years old have problems with drugs and alcohol. Only about 122,000 of them got treatment in the year 2000.//

"Those kids are only the tip of the (drug abuse) iceberg," says Mitchell Rosenthal, head of Phoenix House Foundation, the nation's largest non-profit drug-treatment program. The study shows that about 4.7 million Americans ages 12 and older are abusing or dependent on illegal drugs. Of that number, 3.9 million received no treatment in 2000. The figures also indicate that the need for treatment has grown over the past decade.

Drug experts say the money is a small step. Treatment for children is costly and scarce. The treatment programs can cost as much as sending a child to a year of college, and drug programs are almost always at capacity. Parents often must send their children away for treatment because programs aren't available locally.

Treatment costs vary widely by the type of facility, the psychological needs of the patient, and the number and types of drugs the person abuses. To close the treatment gap, the government, health-care providers and insurance companies must address funding, insurance coverage, capacity and the stigma associated with seeking help for drug addictions.


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