Calls for more support for addicts

The father of the late singer Amy Winehouse says there should be more support available for young people who are battling addictions. Mitch Winehouse's daughter Amy was found dead in her London flat last weekend, with her cause of death still unexplained.

"This isn't about Amy, because we were in a fortunate position of being able to fund Amy to go into private rehab. This is about people that can't afford it," commented Mitch, a former cab driver turned jazz singer who rushed back from a tour of clubs in the US to be with his family when the news of Amy's death broke.

He met with the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz and Home Office minister James Brokenshire to discuss the possibility of the government making more funding available to help those who are fighting additions to drugs and alcohol.

The Back to Black star was reportedly clean and sober when she passed away a week ago. 

Dr Frank Ryan, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Mr Winehouse has drawn attention to a growing problem. Drugs, especially alcohol and cocaine are now being used more widely than ever by adolescents and young adults.

"Surveys indicate that 49 per cent of 17-year-olds in the UK report drinking in the week prior, with a large proportion of these drinking quite excessively (more than 11 standard units) on occasion.

"In the 16-24 age bracket, 4.4 per cent reported cocaine use in the previous year. While cannabis use has actually declined in recent years, over 17 per cent in this age group still report regular use. Alcohol use by inexperienced young drinkers is especially hazardous, exposing them to increased risks of ethanol poisoning, traffic accidents, sex crime and sexually transmitted disease.

"It is also associated with increased uptake of cigarette smoking. Alcohol during pregnancy is especially harmful to the unborn. The adolescent brain may be particularly sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol and other drugs, raising the possibility of enduring deficits in key cognitive functions such as executive control.

"Prevention, through tailored policies and focused educational interventions should be the priority. For a minority of young people, especially those with concurrent emotional or behavioural problems, specialised rehabilitation programmes, such as that suggested by Mr Winehouse, should be made available."