New statistics, released by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) in the UK show more young people are seeking treatment for cocaine addiction in the last four years.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), Britain’s government health department, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who sought cocaine addiction treatment at NHS funded treatment centres has increased by 88 percent in the last four years.

The total number of 18 to 24 year olds who sought treatment with the NTA rose from 1,591 in 2005-06 to 2,998 in 2008-09. From this group, the number of women seeking drug addiction treatment rose 80 percent to 592, while the number of men rose 91 percent to 2,406.

Among those under 35 years, the number of women seeking cocaine addiction treatment rose 60 percent, and the number of men 75%, during the same time period. The average age of first cocaine use, according to data gathered by the NTA, was 21 years.

Conversely, the number of women in the UK seeking treatment for heroin and crack cocaine dropped ever so slightly, by eight percent. Experts say it is encouraging to see women drug users start to turn away from heroin and crack cocaine, which involve the most crime, physical harm, and family problems.

However, experts in the UK say that it is still very concerning to see such great increases in the number of cocaine users. There seems to be mounting evidence of a generational shift in hard drug users, and a growing preference for cocaine.

Experts say that these new findings not only demonstrate cocaine’s growing popularity in the UK, but of its capacity to damage users.

The NTA’s findings can be viewed on BBC News’ website.