Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Binge Drinking in Childhood and Adolescence – Germany

Via the SHEU, and while Germany is very much outside of our geographical remit, I thought this might be a useful comparison to the stories we often see about the numbers of young people who end up in hospitals in this country as a result of alcohol.

According to this story, and this paper:

the number of adolescents admitted to hospital for alcohol poisoning [in Germany] has more than doubled, increasing from 9500 in 2007 to more than 23 000 in 2007. About 3800 of these patients were between 10 and 15 years old.

The last (roughly comparable) figures I can find suggest that there were 8,000 young people in the same position in England, although more recent figures have gone on to include those who end up in hospital as a result of accidents as well as because of alcohol poisoning.

Readers may recall that the last time we covered hospital admissions for alcohol related conditions we were able to see that the biggest rises in the numbers needing admission to hospital were amongst the 17 to 25 age group.

Looking at the maps I made following the ESPAD survey German young people aren’t getting as drunk as young people in the UK.



Although it looks like slightly more of them may be drinking.

alcohol use

Filed under: alcohol, europe, hospital

Hospital Admissions – Alcohol

Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow asks a question about admissions to hospital as a result of alcohol misuse over the last decade and gets an answer from Dawn Primarolo, the Health Minister, which includes figures about the number of young people needing hospital treatment.

You’ll see from the graphs that I’ve created that the big rises have been amongst young people have been in the 17 to 21 year old groups.



Here’s the table from which the graphs are taken.


Filed under: alcohol, hospital

20,000 under 10s hospitalised with drug poisoning in five years

The Telegraph:

In total more than 100,000 children were admitted to hospital for treatment, including 60,000 under 16s.

The drugs involved ranged from narcotics and hallucinogens to antibiotics and other medicines.

The figures were obtained by the Liberal Democrats, who described the statistics as “horrific” and accused the Government of failing to tackle the problem.

Last month official figures showed that the number of under 16s hospitalised for illegal drugs had risen by 45 per cent over the last decade.

The piece includes a quote from the Department of Health:

“It is wrong to suggest that 60,000 young people have taken drug overdoses on the basis of these figures which include adverse reactions to prescribed medicines and incidents such as children taking medicines accidentally in the home as well as overdoses, both intentional and accidental.”

Filed under: hospital

Hospital toll of young binge drinking third higher than thought

The Telegraph have a story about new estimates for the numbers needing hospital treatment as a result of alcohol:

By including illnesses and injuries indirectly caused by excessive drinking, such as car accidents and assaults, the new study has attempted to give a fuller figure of the impact of heavy drinking on the NHS.

Statistics released by the North West Public Health Observatory, show that 53,844 people under 25s were admitted to English hospitals due to alcohol related problems in 2006-07 in comparison with 32,928 under the old methodology for the same year.

Apparently previous figures have focused on “alcohol poisoning, liver disease and alcohol related mental and behavioural disorders” while ignoring the “wandering in front of cars and buses” injuries.

Filed under: alcohol, hospital

Cocaine overdose hospital admissions rise 400 per cent in just four years

The Mail pick up on figures that appear in Druglink about hospital admissions as a result of cocaine abuse. Almost all of the contributors to the piece are sure that celebrities are acting as recruiting sergeants for the drug. Here’s Mary Brett:

‘We were supposed to see cocaine use being targeted as a class A drug, instead it’s going through the roof.

‘Young people think it’s cool to use cocaine, that it’s a safe recreational drug but it can have dramatic effects on the body and cause psychosis.

‘We need more health campaigns and some way of getting the message through that celebrities are not role models, they can afford the rehab unlike some of those who get addicted.’

I didn’t see any mention of price as a factor in people’s use of the drug. Going back a few months Harry Shapiro made the case against seeing celebs as the cause of any cocaine culture there may be:

Yet still the charge remains that the pied-pipers of pop are leading our young people by the nose leaving a trail of death and devastation in their wake. So how do young respond? A group from Mentor UK were asked this very question by MPs at last week’s meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Substance Misuse Group – as were listeners to the youth-oriented radio station 1Xtra. And what did say? ‘We’re not that stupid’ – and it is symptomatic of our patronising attitudes towards young people that we should think them so gullible. In fact, fans of pop stars with drug problems generally feel sorry for them and wish they could get their lives back together again.

And just in case you need a reminder according to the BCS 94% of British young people (16 – 24) haven’t taken cocaine in the last year, and amongst the immediately younger group (11 – 15) that rises to 98.4%. Even in terms of attitudes it’s important to remember that 97% of pupils don’t think it’s OK to try taking cocaine “to see what it’s like”.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a problem, just looking at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report tells us that comparatively we do have high use of the drug, but “through the roof” seems less than accurate.

Filed under: celebrity, cocaine, hospital

NHS hospital admissions specifically related to alcohol more than double in 12 years

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,

City uncovers teen booze culture

The BBC report on a survey carried out with young people in Hull.  They say that 166 young people under 18 needed hospital treatment as a result of alcohol misuse and go on to report:

A total of 480 young people were questioned about their drinking habits by officers dealing with anti-social behaviour, along with drug and alcohol workers.

The survey also found that 95% of all those questioned were drinking alcohol at a level regarded as harmful and more than a fifth of young people may have a serious alcohol dependence.

Kate Stevenson, alcohol project manager from Hull Citysafe, said: “The results from this study are concerning, but it will help us address the issue of alcohol misuse with young people much more effectively as we now understand the severity of the problem.”

This WHO paper on brief interventions for hazardous and harmful drinking defines harmful drinking as:

a pattern of drinking that is already causing damage to health. The damage may be either physical (e.g., liver damage from chronic drinking) or mental (e.g., depressive episodes secondary to drinking).

Harmful patterns of use are often criticized by others and are sometimes associated with adverse social consequences of various kinds. However, the fact that a family or culture disapproves drinking is not by itself sufficient to justify a diagnosis of harmful use.

Filed under: alcohol, hospital, ,

Alcohol hospital admissions rise in South West


The report also estimated that 728,500 people aged from 16-64 in the region drink to “hazardous” levels and about 119,000 are dependent drinkers.There is particular concern over the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of drink.

The number of under 18-year-olds admitted to hospital because of acute intoxication increased by 60% and by 140% in those aged 18-24.

Filed under: alcohol, hospital, ,

Under-8s in A&E for drink abuse

Channel 4:

Children under eight have been admitted to A&E for alcohol-related problems 95 times in the past year, the Liberal Democrats said.The number of admissions involving girls under 18 has also risen by almost 50% in the last five years, figures showed.

In 2002/02, there were 3,084 admissions involving girls under 18, rising to 4,538 in 2006/07.

Admissions involving boys under 18 have risen almost a quarter in the same period – from 3,013 to 3,686.

The Daily Mail:

Hundreds of children under the age of eight have been admitted to hospital suffering from the effects of alcohol, figures reveal.

Last year, 95 under-eights needed emergency medical treatment for alcohol abuse, bringing the total since 2001 to 624.

They were all suffering from “alcohol-related conditions”, including the toxic effects of excess alcohol, alcoholic liver disease or mental or behavioural disorders caused by their alcohol intake.

Official statistics also reveal a steep rise in the number of school-age girls being taken to hospital with drink problems.

I wonder if this is an extension to the story (again raised by Liberal Democrat MPs) run in The Telegraph last month.

While these figures are clearly shocking and indicative of the scale of the problem that we face with a small group of children we have very little evidence on how many children at the age of 8 have ever drunk alcohol, let alone are drinking regularly.

The Tellus survey from Ofsted told us:

Almost half (48%) of all children between 10 and 15 claimed they have had an alcoholic drink. One in five (19%) said they have been drunk at least once in the past four weeks.

The proportion of children saying that they have tried an alcoholic drink increases with age. While 21% of children aged 10-11 said they have had an alcoholic drink the figure for 12-13 year olds is 50% and for 14-15s it reaches 74%.

Filed under: alcohol, hospital,

Hospitals treat 8,000 drunk children each year – Telegraph

The Telegraph return to the issue of the number of young people needing hospital attention as a result of drinking:

The number of school-age children needing medical treatment after binge drinking has soared by nearly 40 per cent in just six years.

New figures show 22 under-18s were admitted to hospital in England every day in the first full year after 24-hour drinking was introduced to pubs and bars.

The statistics come amid rising concern about the scale of alcohol abuse by teenagers.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who has uncovered the figures is quoted saying:

“Gordon Brown talks about health prevention being important, yet what is he doing to tackle the shocking rise in binge drinking amongst our young people? The overall numbers mask alarming regional differences.

“We need to look at the damage that alcohol is doing to our children and find out why the number of children drinking so much that they end up in hospital is so much higher in some parts of the country.”

Also of interest is the regional variations that are apparent in their map


You can find earlier coverage of the issue here and here.

Filed under: alcohol, hospital

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2021