Heavy drinking culture continues among young

04 February, 2011

The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions involving young adults in England is still on the increase, according to government figures.

But the number of admissions involving 13 to 15-year-olds continues to decline.

Health minister Anne Milton said there had been 21,470 alcohol-related admissions for 16 to 19-year-olds in 2009-10, compared to 13,777 in 2002-03.

Among 20 to 24-year-olds, the number of admissions rose from 18,210 to 30,488 over the same period.

Although the number of admissions for 13 to 15-year-olds is broadly similar to the figure recorded in 2002-03, at 3,331, it is markedly lower than the peak in 2005-06 of 4,700 hospital cases.

Meanwhile a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that drinking to get drunk is the default choice for socialising among 18 to 25-year-olds.

The research, which looked at the experiences of 80 young people aged 18-25, also found that alcohol price does play a role in the amount of alcohol young people drink and the way in which they drink it.

It revealed that young people see heavy drinking as a phase that ends when they “reach adulthood” by taking on adult responsibilities such as employment and parenting. Moderate drinking in a family environment provides a potentially more balanced, alternative view of drinking behaviour.

The report said: “The way alcohol is sold to young people needs to be looked at carefully, as young adults moderate their behaviour when subject to informal pressures of drinking among more mixed age groups, as opposed to drinking in bars aimed at young people.”?Its author Peter Seaman added: “Alcohol has found a unique role in the way friendship groups are forged and maintained, partly because of the special nature of young adulthood, the absence of other group bonding opportunities and the success of alcohol markets in filling that void.

“Working with young people to offer alternatives may help address this, rather than just imposing constraints.”

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