HEALTH chiefs estimate that 2,393 people in Somerset aged between 15 and 64 are using crack cocaine and opiates such as heroin.

But worrying, the figures don't even include anyone using cocaine in powder form, amphetamines, ecstasy of cannabis.

Experts at Public Health England say the rise in use is down to drugs being sold at "pocket money prices".

A Public Health England report reveals that almost 30,000 people across the South West are using crack and opiates - more than 2,000 up on five years ago. And of those more than 2,400 are aged 15 to 24.

Former addict Eytan Alexander, chief executive of addiction experts UKAT, 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."

Referring to older drug users, he added: "The impact of a person misusing these drugs in later life has a knock-on effect on their family, children, spouses as well as their own personal health, which will deteriorate at a much faster pace if drug use continues, and for some, will prove fatal."