Almost a third of 15-year-olds in the North East have got drunk in the last four weeks, according to a shock new survey.
Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is calling for more to be done to protect young people from the harms of alcohol after a new study has revealed that around 5,700 15-year-olds in the region had been drunk in the last four weeks.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was commissioned to run the ‘What About YOUth? 2014’ study on behalf of the Department of Health, to look at the health behaviours amongst 15 year olds in England.
The study revealed that in the North East:
· 70% of 15 year olds have had an alcoholic drink (the 2nd highest region in England)
· 9% of 15 year olds drink at least once a week (the highest region in England)
· 28% of people who had a drink have been drunk in last four weeks (the highest region in England) which equates to 20% of the overall 15 year old population.
· This equates to around 5,700 15 year olds being drunk in the last four weeks in the North East
On a national level just over three in five young people (62%) reported that they had previously had a whole alcoholic drink (not just a sip), 6% of all young people were classed as regular drinkers (drinking alcohol at least once a week), 8% of young people drink alcohol about once a fortnight, 11% drink about once a month, and 32% drink only a few times a year.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “These figures are clearly worrying. The Chief Medical Officer clearly states that the best advice is for young people to have an alcohol-free childhood.
"Alcohol makes children and young people vulnerable by encouraging poor decisions which they can later regret. It also exposes them to a range of long-term health risks linked to more than 60 medical conditions, including seven different types of cancer.
“Someone who begins drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who waits until adulthood to use alcohol, so it’s vitally important that something is done to try and further reduce the number of young people turning to alcohol.
“Young people are bombarded with positive messages about drinking from the alcohol industry – whether on TV, at the cinema, at sports events or online. We need to see tighter controls so drinking isn’t constantly painted as a means for young people to have fun.
“Alcohol continues to be sold at pocket money prices and is available 24/7. A package of evidence-based measures that tackle the price, promotion and availability of alcohol is needed if we are to protect younger generations from the dangers of alcohol.”