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Forty Sussex under-13s hooked on booze
Forty 12 to 13-year-olds in Sus- sex were treated on the NHS for booze addiction in 2010/11, figures reveal.
Of all 147 local authority areas in the UK, East Sussex had the most alcoholic under-13s with a staggering 33 applying for specialist help.
Experts have called the findings “dangerous” adding that booze at such a young age can have a devastating effect on brain development.
The figures were revealed this week following a question in Parliament from Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford.
Seven 12 to 13-year-olds received treatment in Brighton and Hove with a further 18, 14 to 15-year-olds also seeking help.
In addition 38, 16 to 17-year-olds were treated. But those figures pale into insignificance compared to East Sussex where 33 12 to 13-year-old addicts sought help.
A worrying 112 14 to 15-year-olds also approached their doctor along with 88 16 to 17-year-olds.
For West Sussex, the situation wasn’t nearly as severe with less than five 12 to 13 and 14 to 15-year- olds seeking help.
Additionally just six 16 to 17-year- olds also sought help.
Brighton and Hove director of public health Tom Scanlon, told The Argus that in some ways he wasn’t surprised.
He said: “Well we know that in Brighton and Hove more youngsters have tried alcohol than most other areas and more have been drunk.
“The latest figures also show that drinking is more common among girls.”
He added: “The Chief Medical Officer came out a few years ago and said that under-15s shouldn’t be drinking at all and I agree.
“At that age certain brain func- tions haven’t developed and alcohol can cause damage.
“It’s a strong message but I don’t think people have got it yet.”
The city’s top health boss explained that the type of treatment for alcohol changes as drinkers get older. As teens he said that they would be admitted to hospital due to drunkenness – often severe.
As they move into their twenties the problems will increasingly be mental and behavioural disordersbefore developing into liver complaints later in life.
Dale, from Brighton and Hove’s alcohol dependency Goal Group, was fighting his own drink problem just four years ago. But in the short time since, in which he has volunteered as the group’s co-ordinator, he has seen an increase in young people drinking.
He said: “The whole idea of binge drinking has definitely developed. I think the TV is largely to blame. When you watch soaps every other character has a drink in their hand or is in the pub – young people can’t get away from it.
“I think the answer is education. We need to get into schools and get the children at a young age.”
Professor Dai Stephens, from the University of Sussex, described the figures as “very worrying”.
He added: “Research tells us that the part of the brain which is responsible for what we call executive control – this is things such as urge control – doesn’t develop until the later teens.
“Alcohol abuse can damage that development which leads to a sort of vicious cycle.”
If you are under-19 and think you have a problem with drugs, then visit: www.areyouok.org.uk.
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