Health experts have warned that lethal Class A drugs are now available in our communities at 'pocket money prices'.
Rocks of crack cocaine can be easily bought for as little as £5 and are causing untold harm, it is claimed.
New data from Public Health England reveals that West Sussex has one of the highest populations of crack cocaine and opiate users in the South East.
Opiates are a type of drug that includes heroin and some prescription painkillers.
The figures are based on users identified between March 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and are broken down by local authority area.
Public Health England identified 2,695 users of crack cocaine and opiates in West Sussex.
Former addict: 'Alarming' number of teenagers now addicted
Eytan Alexander is a former drug addict and now works as the chief executive of UK Addiction Treatment.
He identified the uptake of these drugs among young people aged 15-24 (3,600 in the South East) as an area of particular concern.
He 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."
Effects on families and children as well as personal health
He also noted that these drugs are harmful for people whatever their age.
Mr Alexander continued: “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.”
The total for West Sussex was lower only than Hampshire (3,434), Kent (5,647), Oxfordshire (3,416) and Surrey (3,391).
East Sussex had 2,140 users while 2,065 were identified in Brighton and Hove.
Those local authorities with the lowest totals include: Bracknell Forest (365), Wokingham (373) and Windsor and Maidenhead (525).