Booze bender culture amongst British children has reached a shocking level, with figures citing a 40 per cent increase in the number of under-18s being treated for alcohol abuse in a year.
Statistics from the Government's National Treatment Agency (NTA), reveal that children as young as 10 are being placed in rehabilitation programmes, while the number of under-18s admitted to hospital for alcohol related illnesses has also escalated.
AdvertisementNTA figures show that the total number of under-18s in alcohol treatment programmes has risen from 4,781 in 2006 to 6,707 in 2007. Out of these more than half are female, and experts are worried that young girls are following bad examples set by partying celebrities such as Amy Winehouse and Lilly Allen.
Health experts warn that the trend is encouraged by cheap drink promotions and easy access to alcohol. Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, has called for alcohol advertising to be banned to stem the tide of binge drinking.
"Clearly it's inappropriate for young pop stars, looked upon as role models for young people, to be celebrating or boasting about their misuse of alcohol, and the 'Amy Winehouse factor' isn't helping the situation," the Daily Mail quoted Prof Gilmore, as saying. "We know girls' bodies are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than boys.
"Unless we can stop this heavy drinking culture among young girls, we're more likely to see women with serious liver disease at a younger age in the future," he added.
Experts are also concerned about children who glorify their shameful drunken antics on Facebook. The highest increases for children entering treatment programs were for children aged 12 to 14, up 62 per cent to 953.
The number of children aged 16 or under hospitalised for problems related to alcohol have also risen by a third in the past decade to 5,281 in 2005/06. Professor Mark Bellis, the Government's lead adviser on alcohol, said: "Of 15-year-olds, nearly two thirds have drunk in the past four weeks, and around one in seven of those drinkers consumed enough to vomit.
"The reality is that about 30 per cent of all 15-year-olds think it is OK to get drunk once a week. "We need to tackle a youth culture in which drunkenness is commonplace, underage access to alcohol relatively easy and alternatives to drinking far too scarce," he added.