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Excess drinking problems - Do the summer holidays bring more than just a sun tan for teenagers?

Published 15/07/2009

Under 18's alcohol consumption and the anti-social behaviour issues it triggers are costing UK tax payers over £915 million a year*.  However, it isn't just the short-term financial cost that is causing the Government to act.  It is the long-term health implications of drinking from a young age which has caused the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, to announce a programme of financial support to assist in a nationwide crackdown on teenage binge drinking this summer. 

Apart from the anti-social behaviour that can ensue when teenagers consume too much alcohol, there are the serious physical, mental and emotional issues to consider if that ‘one-off drink' becomes a regular occurrence.  Sue Allchurch, director of Linwood Group, explains further: "We are seeing more and more alcohol difficulties beginning in childhood.  Although research shows that the number of young people who drink alcohol is falling, those children who do drink, drink more, more often and start from an earlier age. 

"Summer is a time when young people are particularly prone to drinking too much.  Apart from the longer evenings that summer brings, it is easier for young people to gather away from adult supervision to consume drugs and alcohol.  In fact, the proportion of 11-15-year-olds who drink on the street, in a park or somewhere else outside has increased in the last 8 years.  In a recent survey*, 56% of young people said that they had drunk outside on the street or in the park.  This growing trend is worrying as drinking to excess can lead to many additional social, physical and mental health issues."

Apart from the anti-social behaviour that excessive summer drinking can cause, there are the health implications of drinking from a young age to consider.  10,000 children aged 11-17 are admitted to

Hospital each year as a result of their alcohol consumption, with 6,000 of these aged under 16.  In addition to these hospital admissions, drinking at a young age increases a person's chances of having to deal with cancer of the colon, pancreas, lip and mouth, breast or larynx; heart disease; cirrhosis of the liver and mental health problems, like depression in later life.

So how can you tell if a young person close to you is at risk?  According to the Government's leaflet for parents and carers concerning children, young people and alcohol here are some of the warning signs to look out for:

Does the child....

Drink every week?

Drink to get drunk every time?

Drink to forget or deal with problems or because they feel sad?

Drink to cope with situations or cannot cope without a drink?

Experience problems with school, police or friends when drinking?

If you are able to answer ‘yes' to any of the above questions, then it is time to get help for excessive drinking.  As with any addictive lifestyle, the sooner a person (whatever their age) is able to break their pattern of addiction, the greater their chances of avoiding long term health problems.  Sue Allchurch continues: "Obviously, the longer a person has a drinking problem, the greater the impact of that addiction on their physical and mental health and on those around them.  We would advise anyone who is beginning to feel that their child's drinking is getting out of control to seek professional help sooner rather than later." 

There are a range of treatments available for those looking to seek help for an alcohol related problem.  The key is to choose the type of treatment that best suits the individual and is most likely to lead to a positive resolution to the addiction.  A wide range of treatment centres are now available throughout the UK and offer safe and professional environments in which to begin the process of recovery.

For the next step on the road to recovery, whatever your age, why not call Linwood Group on Freephone 0800 066 4173 or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call 01226 698 054?

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