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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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12-year-olds in Cumbria treated for alcohol problems

Children as young as 12 are being treated for alcohol dependency in Cumbria, shocking new figures have revealed.

Public health minister Anne Milton in Parliament revealed the extent of alcohol dependency in young people.

There are 11 children aged 12 to 13 currently being treated in Cumbria, 33 children aged 14 to 15 and 35 aged 16 to 17.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Cumbria’s deputy director of public health, warned that this was just the tip of the iceberg as routine drinking had become endemic among Cumbria’s young people.

She said: “There are widespread problems among children who are not drinking at a level that is so high, they require a referral to a specialist service.

“They are starting a pattern of drinking that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

She believes that parents socialising their children into responsible drinking will help to reduce the problem, but added: “If a child is used to seeing mum and dad regularly drunk or drinking every evening, it’s not sending a good message.

“The most common place for children drinking is in the home and among 15-year-olds, alcohol is mostly frequently obtained from parents.”

This is according to the Coming of Age in Cumbria survey which quizzes youngsters about their drinking habits.

Of the 10 and 11 year olds questioned, 12 per cent had consumed alcohol in the last week while 12 per cent of 15-year-old boys reported they had drunk more than 21 units (around 10 pints) in the previous week.

Mrs Milton said in her answer to Parliament: “Very few young people develop dependency. Those who use drugs or alcohol problematically are likely to be vulnerable and experiencing a range of problems, of which substance misuse is one.

“Most young people need to be involved with specialist alcohol interventions for a short period of time before continuing with support within an integrated young people’s care plan.”

Dr Wagstaff said that work already done in the county seemed to be taking effect, as reported drinking among young people had fallen yearly since 2003.

ABurdett@cngroup.co.uk

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