The NHS Information Centre has a new report about alcohol related admissions to hospital. It makes for grim reading:
- In 2006/7 there were 57,100 admissions with a primary diagnosis specifically related to alcohol, such as alcoholic liver disease, a 52 per cent rise since 1995/96.
- Of these admissions, 4,900 (nine per cent) involved patients aged under 18
The full report is here and it reminds us:
- Since 2001, the proportion of pupils who have never drunk alcohol has risen; in 2006, 45% of pupils said they had never had a proper alcoholic drink, compared to 39% in 2001.
- In contrast to the recent decrease in drinking prevalence among pupils, the average consumption among pupils who had drunk alcohol in the week prior to interview was 11.4 units in 2006, the highest ever recorded in the survey.
- In 2006, 15% of pupils thought it was okay to get drunk at least once a week. This figure varied largely depending on age; at 3% for 11 year old pupils and 30% for 15 year old pupils.
The chapter on children’s drinking draws very heavily on Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use amongst Young People in England 2006, so the information isn’t new to us. Nevertheless, its worth reminding ourselves of some of the findings:
The proportion of pupils reporting drinking alcohol in the previous week has fallen since 2001, when it was 26%. This fall can be seen in most age groups and is evident for both boys and girls
In 2006, the average consumption among pupils who had drunk alcohol in the week prior to interview was 11.4 units, the highest recorded by the survey, and an increase from 10.5 units in 2005. This average weekly consumption increased from 5.3 units in 1990 to 10.4 units in 2000, and has fluctuated around this level since then, showing no clear pattern. However, among children aged 11 to 13 who drank in the previous week average consumption has continued to increase, from 5.6 units in 2001 to 10.1 units in 2006.
In terms of when those young people who drink there is a very clear pattern:
Weekends were the most popular times for drinking alcohol. In 2006, of all pupils who had drunk in the week prior to interview, 62% did so on a Saturday, 51% on a Friday and 27% on a Sunday. Drinking on other days of the week was much lower.
There’s also information about the type of alcohol that’s popular with the young people that drink:
In 2006, beer, lager and cider were the most commonly consumed types of drink. Seventy two per cent of pupils who drank in the week prior to interview reported drinking this type of alcohol. Spirits and alcopops were the next most frequently consumed types of drink (63% and 60% respectively). Boys were most likely to drink beer, lager or cider (87%), with girls preferring alcopops (69%) and spirits (67%).
Apparently use of spirits grows with age, with shandy and fortified wine declining as young people grow up.
One thing I hadn’t picked up on before was that
the odds of having drunk alcohol in the last week were higher for pupils who described themselves as white than for pupils belonging to minority ethnic groups
Moving on to young people’s perceptions of how their families might view their drinking the report says:
More than half of pupils thought their families wouldn’t mind them drinking as long as they didn’t drink too much (53%). Very few pupils thought that their family would let them drink as much as they liked (2%) while 45% thought their families wouldn’t like them to drink alcohol1. Family attitudes were related to whether or not pupils drank alcohol. Compared with pupils whose families did not like them to drink alcohol, pupils whose families didn’t mind, were more likely to have drunk in the last seven days.
And finally, there’s also an interesting comparison made between drinking in England and Scotland:
When comparing drinking among 15 year olds in England and Scotland, English 15 year olds were more likely to report drinking in the last week than their Scottish counterparts (41% compared to 36% respectively in 2006).
The Times in its coverage points out:
The British Liver Trust said that it generally took five to ten years to develop cirrhosis but alcoholic hepatitis could develop quickly and could kill. The trust said that 120 people a day were admitted to hospital with alcoholic liver disease. Whether young drinkers are more or less likely to develop cirrhosis remains a grey area. On the one hand they have smaller livers, but these are likely to be more robust.
“The relentless rise in admissions involving more and more young people is very bad news,” Professor Williams said. “The main source of cheap alcohol for young people is supermarkets. By making alcohol a loss leader they provide alcohol incredibly cheaply.”
Filed under: alcohol, hospital, Information Centre