10 year olds treated for alcohol problems

Sunday, March 30, 2008

CUMBRIAN children as young as 10 and 11 have been treated at the Cumberland Infirmary for alcohol problems and people in their 20s have developed liver disease, shocking figures have revealed.

The statistics, obtained by The Cumberland News under the Freedom of Information Act, show for the first time the true extent of the county’s booze culture, with pregnant mums admitted for complications related to alcohol use, three young people killed by drink, and 740 people aged under 30 treated for alcohol-related illness and injury in two years.

The culture of heavy drinking has led to five people aged just 27 and 28 developing liver disease.

Speaking to The Cumberland News yesterday, Cumbrian public health director Professor John Ashton said society was “in a complete mess” where alcohol was concerned.

And A&E consultant Vincent Foxworthy said the alcohol-related casualties were creating a “big workload” for emergency services.

Among the figures, which apply to people aged under 30 and treated at the Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, it emerged:

Thirteen and 14-year-olds were among 263 patients taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning in 2006 and 2007. In some cases booze had been mixed with drugs including heroin, cannabis and cocaine;

175 teenagers and young adults, including 74 people under 16, have been treated for mental and behavioural disorders related to alcohol use. One of them was aged just 10, two were 11, two were 12, and 17 aged 13;

Thirty-four expectant mums – including a 16-year-old girl – have been treated for alcohol-related complications, including foetal heart rate problems and haemorrhaging after labour.

A one-year-old child was also treated in hospital suffering from the toxic effects of alcohol in the form of ethanol, a chemical which can be found in fuel and household cleaners.

The patients, who have either attended A&E or been referred by GPs, have suffered from a range of alcohol-related illnesses, including chronic pancreatitis; hepatitis; blood clots; cuts and bruises; abdominal pain; poisoning and sickness.

Professor John Ashton, said: “This is young people going out and drinking bottles and bottles of spirits – it is a big issue. Our society is in a complete mess in terms of social awareness about alcohol.

“There needs to be a far more sensible approach.”

He has called for supermarkets to stop selling alcohol and said children need to be introduced to drinking in a more responsible way by their parents.

Vincent Foxworthy, A&E consultant at the Cumberland Infirmary, added: “People do drink more and it is not just young people – everyone seems to be drinking more.

“The kind of people we see are people who are drunk and aggressive, and their victims.

“Also people who have fallen or hurt themselves accidentally – you only have to look at the fact that they have closed Botchergate at the weekends to see this is a social problem.”

Mr Foxworthy has worked in A&E departments in Glasgow and Newcastle and said that the Carlisle booze culture is catching up with the bigger cities.

He added that drunken casualties created a “big workload” and said: “It does put a big strain on all the services involved including police and the ambulance service.

“Social drinking is something that most do but people are getting carried away and drinking more than they used to.”

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