An increasing number of West Australian youth are concerned about drug and alcohol use in their communities with economic downturn and employment uncertainty fuelling the trend, a survey has found.
According to Mission Australia's youth survey, the biggest annual poll of young people in Australia, 30 per cent of West Australians aged between 15 and 19 rate alcohol and drugs as their number one concern.
Nationally, economy and financial matters rated as the most important issue but WA youth bucked the trend, with alcohol and drugs topping the list, jumping from third spot last year.
Mission Australia youth program manager Ciara Crotty said both issues were often closely related with alcoholism and drug use frequently a byproduct of financial and economic hardship.
"Turning to alcohol and drugs is often a symptom of other things happening in someone's life like stress over not being financially secure or being able to find a job, or losing your job," she said.
"We're seeing an increasing number of younger people on the streets, homeless, unemployed - over 2000 in just six months.
"The numbers of kids turning up to our drug and alcohol centre has also increased. These are not isolated issues but they are issues where early intervention is key."
Maverick Bradley, 18, said alcohol and drug use was a big issue among those his age, with many refusing to get help.
"Some people do it for fun and others to forget their problems," he said.
Mr Bradley admits he abused drugs in the past and even overdosed before seeking help at Mission Australia's detoxification clinic in East Perth.
The aspiring landscaper has turned his life around and is looking for work but struggling to find someone to take him on.