Children as young as 12 are part of an alarming increase in WA teenagers getting professional help for problem cannabis and alcohol use.

New figures from support service Palmerston show a record number of people sought help last financial year, including about 280 aged under 18.

Releasing the association's annual report, chief executive Sheila McHale called on the main political parties to commit more resources to supporting people struggling with substance abuse.

She told the State conference of the Local Drug Action Groups that Palmerston supported more than 4000 people and their families in the past year.

Of those, 836 were under 25 and a third were under 18, pointing to the need for more youth services.

"Of the young people under 14, cannabis followed by alcohol were the primary concern," she said.

"While the numbers are small, it is a worrying trend that we are seeing young people of this age.

"We are concerned in the extreme about what is happening to our children, who are often the direct target of alcohol sites and advertising, and are increasingly clients of alcohol and drug services."

Ms McHale said concerns were also increasing about alcohol and drug dependence among fly-in, fly-out workers and returned defence forces personnel.

"With FIFO, we know it's affecting not just workers, but partners and families, and with the defence personnel there are concerns about post trauma stress and the impact on them and their kids," she said.

"We are already starting to see it show up in some of our clients, including returned defence people, so these are extra populations we need to watch for problems."

McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube said the Palmerston figures were more evidence of a problem that worried everyone but no one seemed to be acting on.

"Our young people are being bombarded with messages promoting alcohol and are directly targeted through advertising, sponsorship, youth-focused products and social media," he said.

The West Australian

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