The number of crack cocaine and opiate users across Sunderland stands at more than 1,600, with campaigners warning “pocket money prices” are putting those as young as 15 at risk.
New figures show that across the region, almost 19,000 people are estimated to be using the substances – a rise of 2,000 in the last five years – with the region found to have the highest prevalence of users in the 25 to 34 age group across the country.
Across Wearside, 1,652 people aged 15 to 64 are said to be using both crack and other opiates.
But addiction treatment experts at UKAT (UK Addiction Treatment) say it is worrying the figures do not include anyone using cocaine in its powder form, amphetamines, Ecstasy or cannabis.
UKAT has said it is particularly concerned that within the region, the number of 15 to 24-year-olds using both crack and opiates stands at almost 1,500.
The figures cover the 12 months from April 1, 2016, with 18,983 users identified across the region.
They’re seeking the feeling of euphoria at pocket money prices - crack rocks can be purchased for as little as a fiver with dealers available any time of day at the click of a button.Eytan Alexander
UKAT’s chief executive office Eytan Alexander, a former addict, said: “Public Health England’s data clearly shows that an alarming number of teenagers and young adults are addicted to these incredibly potent substances.
“They’re seeking the feeling of euphoria at pocket money prices – crack rocks can be purchased for as little as a fiver with dealers available any time of day at the click of a button.
“Teenagers misusing crack and opiates at such an early age will not only suffer with the physical effects of the drugs, but the drugs could impact their education, overall achievement in life and expose them to a criminal environment at a young age, without full understanding of the risks and consequences of their actions.”
He added it is not just the younger population of the North East addicted to crack and opiates.
The number of people recorded as using crack cocaine only aged 25 to 34 stands at 6,160 with a further 11,348 people addicted to opiates aged 35 to 64.