CHILDREN in Barnsley as young as 12 have been referred to specialist drug and alcohol treatment services.

The shocking figures were revealed through a freedom of information request to councils which showed the extent to which youngsters needed help for drink and drug problems.

Referrals can mean a child is vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse through exposure from friends, parents or could have started abusing substances themselves.

Claire Beevers, service manager at Young Addaction, said: "People get worried when they see figures like this, but there are services available.

"In Barnsley, we are no different to anywhere else in terms of drug and alcohol problems.

"Some do come in at 12 and 13, but most of the time it is about education and prevention and nipping unusual behaviour in the bud.

"It is very low numbers at that age, certainly for someone who has used a substance themselves."

Claire said from January to March this year, only one 12-year-old was seen by staff at Young Addaction.

She said attendances by children as young as 12 were generally 'one-offs' and are the result of them mixing with an older crowd or being offered something they don't know what to do with.

Claire said teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 attended the most, and the two main problems were alcohol and cannabis.

She said educating and trying to prevent people taking substances was important and support was offered to people who were using substances.

There is also a service for people affected by parental alcohol and drug use.