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869 children excluded from schools for alcohol and drug use in Wales last year

16 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Photo Danny Lawson PA Images

869 children were excluded from schools in Wales last year for alcohol and drug use, according to the latest figures.

This was an increase of 119 per cent from 2020-21 and up 16.5 per cent from 2018-19.

It’s the highest number of exclusions since 2011-12.

The figures were revealed in the Data Mining Wales report – an annual statistical report summarising substance misuse data for Wales.

It aims to better explore the evidence of substance misuse over the life course, starting with prenatal, moving through childhood and incorporating youth and older adults.

There were 4,960 children in Wales receiving care and support due to parental substance misuse in 2022-23.

The number of children receiving care and support for their own substance abuse was 630.


Meanwhile alcohol conditions accounted for lower numbers of young people under 25 admitted to hospital – a decrease of 34.6 per cent compared to the previous year.

For adults aged 25-49 years, the number of hospital admissions for illicit drug poisonings decreased by 10.6 per cent in the last year, from 4,859 in 2021-22 to 4,342 in 2022-23.

Compared to 2018-19 there has been a 27.6 per cent decrease in illicit drug admissions.

When hospital admissions for illicit drugs do occur, opioids continue to account for substantially more admissions than any other illicit substance group.

38.3% of hospital admissions for illicit drugs in Wales in 2022-23 were due to opioids.

Cannabinoids were the second highest substance group with 1,097 hospital admissions in 2022-23 relating to 917 individuals admitted.

In the past, the largest increases in hospital admissions for illicit drugs had involved cocaine.

However, admissions decreased over the past 3 years with a slight increase in the most recent year.

Hospital admissions for foetuses and neonates affected by maternal use, or withdrawal from alcohol or other substance dependency have declined over recent years).

In 2022-23, however, there were 63 admissions of Welsh residents in which these conditions were recorded.

Drug misuse deaths were the highest in the 40-49 age category, accounting for 33.7 per cent of all drug misuse deaths registered last year.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area has the highest admissions related to illicit drugs (152.1 per 100,000 population) and along with all health boards (other than Cardiff and Vale and Powys health board areas) had rates above the Wales average in 2022-23.

Older adults aged over 50 were most likely to be admitted for alcohol specific conditions – accounting for 65% of all those admitted to hospital for alcohol related issues.

In addition, within specialist substance misuse services, alcohol was the most frequent problematic substance for the over-50s, representing over 80% of assessments.

Meanwhile opioids were reported as taking up on 13.5 per cent of assessments in the older age group.

Prof Rick Lines, Head of Substance Misuse Programme at Public Health Wales said: “This opportunity to examine the latest picture on substance misuse in Wales is welcome.

“We hope this data will help inform policy makers and third sector partners, as they plan strategies to tackle these challenges going forward, so we can better protect the health of those involved in substance misuse across Wales.”

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