Underage Drinking a Problem in Northern Ireland

Alcohol abuse is a common problem among people in the UK. Underage drinking is nothing new, but it has been revealed that in Northern Ireland, the problem seems to be getting worse. In fact, according to new figures, there have been 655 incidents of underage drinkers being hospitalised in the past five years in the province. And according to the research from the website The Detail, this figure does not include those who have attended A&E for treatment for underage drinking without being hospitalised.

However, there is some good news in that since the establishment of a further eleven new police districts in Northern Ireland in 2015, the number of police seizures of alcohol from underage drinkers halved in the following ten months.

Massive Problem

Despite the reduction in police seizures of alcohol from underage drinkers, it remains a huge problem. Findings from The Detail revealed that, in 2014, 519 people under the age of eighteen were receiving treatment for alcohol problems. They also found that some of the children who had had alcohol seized from them in the past two years were just twelve years old.

In a bid to deal with the problem, former health minister Michelle O’Neill said that she was planning to ‘put proposals for the minimum pricing of alcohol out to public consultation as soon as possible’. Nevertheless, there are fears that these plans could be placed on the back-burner as the Stormont Assembly is currently undergoing significant changes.

Campaigners want the authorities to do more to tackle the problem and have called for more transparency regarding how licencing information is published, the allocation of more police resources, and compulsory support at major events.

Alcohol Problems

Many of the young children who do abuse alcohol will end up struggling as a result. Charity SOS NI deals with many youngsters with alcohol problems, and some of them are as young as thirteen. Chief Executive Joe Hyland said, “At a recent event, we had three youngsters, one aged 13, who drank a 10-glass bottle of vodka and their life was seriously under threat. This happens because as they come into Belfast, someone says drink up because all your drink is going to be confiscated and naively, because of their age, that is what they do.”

The Department of Health said of the numbers: “It is unlikely that alcohol would be recorded as the main reason for admission; the code for alcohol would be recorded as a secondary diagnosis due to the fact that it is a contributing factor to the primary admission.”

Nonetheless, according to director of Addiction NI, Thelma Abernathy, alcohol is causing significant mental health problems for many in Northern Ireland. She said, “Here in Northern Ireland, it is estimated that in the region of 3.64 million working hours are lost every year due to alcohol use alone. This coupled with the ever-increasing use of legal and illegal drugs in the workplace will have an even bigger impact on individuals, families, and business. It is important that businesses understand the impact of alcohol and drug use within the workplace as well as their legal responsibilities to ensure the overall health, well-being, and safety of their workforce.”

Overcoming Problems with Alcohol

Alcohol causes problems for those who abuse it. Regular long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to a host of mental and physical health problems as well as addiction. If you are struggling with an alcohol addiction, contact us here at Primrose Lodge.

With our years of experience offering first-class recovery programmes for all types of addiction, we have the skills and knowledge to help you overcome your addiction once and for all. Contact us today for more information.

Source: Hundreds of Northern Ireland Childre Hospitalised Due to Alcohol (The Belfast Telegraph)

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