Teenage binge-drinking 'out of control'

Last updated at 14:18 01 August 2005

Thirteen children are admitted to hospital every day suffering from the effects of drinking alcohol, new figures show.

Statistics revealed by the Liberal Democrats showed that the number of admissions among under-18s due to alcohol-related disease increased by 11 per cent between 1996/97 and 2003/04 in the UK.

Eight years ago, 4,173 youngsters were admitted to hospital suffering from conditions such as mental and behavioural disorders caused by alcohol or from the toxic effects of binge-drinking.

By 2003/04 this figure had risen to 4,647 admissions among under-18s.

There was also a 15 per cent rise in hospital admissions in those aged over 18 due to the effects of alcohol.

There were 41,122 admissions for adults in 2003/04, compared to 35,740 in 1996/97.

The figures were revealed in a Parliamentary answer to Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow, a member of the Commons Health Committee.

He said: "The number of children being admitted to hospital for alcohol related disease is shocking and shows that binge-drinking amongst teenagers is completely out of control.

"Dither and delay are the hallmarks of this Government's approach to alcohol.

"It has taken eight years for ministers to begin to wake up to the problem and ask the NHS to draw up alcohol harm reduction strategies."

Concern has grown in recent years about the effects of binge drinking on the nation's health, as well as fears about rising anti-social behaviour.

Doctors have also reported seeing growing numbers of young people with alcoholic liver disease - a condition once only seen in older people who have been drinking for many years.

Recent figures from the Forensic Science Service in London also showed that alcohol was linked to many cases of date-rape.

Scientists studying over 1,000 allegations of date-rape found alcohol was detected in almost half of the cases, according to research in the Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We are already making strides in reducing the number of young binge drinkers.

"Figures out earlier this year show that between 2003 and 2004 there was a drop of two percentage points in the number of 11 to 15-year-olds in

England who had drunk alcohol in the past week.

"We know that more needs to be done and we have the measures in place to improve education on alcohol as well as clamping down on the selling of alcohol to those under-18."

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