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Anti-drug project runs out of cash

AN EDINBURGH drugs project is under threat at a time when its own research, published this week, reveals that nine out of 10 young people who took part in the study said they used drugs.

The report from Crew 2000 called for drugs prevention cash to be spent on reaching young people in the community rather than on high-profile advertising campaigns. Mike Cadger, Crew 2000's project manager, criticised the pound;300,000 anti-heroin campaign run by the Health Education Board for Scotland which lasted for just three weeks.

By contrast his organisation relies on a three-year pound;80,000 lottery grant, due to run out this month, and pound;26,000 from the Scottish Executive.

Government money has also gone to the Scotland Against Drugs agency, currently running a pound;1 million programme to train teachers in drugs education. But Alistair Ramsay, the agency's xecutive director, acknowledged that while there should be "a robust response from schools", it is not the only response. Projects like Crew 2000 had a vital role to play outside school.

Between April and September of last year, the Crew 2000 shop in Edinburgh city centre was visited by 3,500 people.Its precarious existence highlighted the importance of a permanent drug information service for young people, Mr Cadger said.

Of 177 young people who took part in its study, 20 per cent were under 16 and 90 per cent had used drugs. Two-thirds of drug users took cannabis while 23 per cent were ecstasy users. Around 10 per cent took cocaine and 6 per cent admitted to using heroin or its methodone substitute.

"Drug taking is a normal part of adolescent life, just as alcoholic experimentation has been in the past," Mr Cadger said.

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