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UK children getting high on binge drinking

Thirteen children are admitted to UK hospitals every day suffering from the effects of binge drinking // .

Around 140 people a day end up in hospital because of binge drinking. Thirteen children are admitted to UK hospitals every day suffering from the effects of binge drinking.

Including children, more than 51,000 were admitted to hospital in 2004-2005 because of binge drinking.

Researchers found that of those who had alcohol in the previous week, 50 per cent of girls said they had been drunk, compared with 42 per cent of boys.

In October a poll of 2,000 indicated that a quarter of adults, 11 million people, were binge drinking regularly.

More than 20,000 people a year die from alcohol-related causes. And alcohol-related deaths have soared by 20 per cent in the past five years.

Alcohol misuse is estimated to cost the Health Service £1.7 billion per year.

Almost six million people in the UK are thought to be binge drinkers, consuming more than the recommended units in single session.

Safe limits are two to three units a day for women, and three to four units for men.

Studies also show that one in five heavy drinkers develops cirrhosis of the liver.

The binge drinking culture is the product of a combination of the relative cheapness of alcohol and longer opening hours, experts feel.

The illnesses include alcohol-related liver disease including cirrhosis, mental behavior disorders and the toxic effects of drinking when teenagers and children have drunk so much that they have poisoned themselves.

The latest official figures released to the Liberal Democrats show that the number of young admitted to hospital with alcohol-related problems in 2004-05 has risen by 15 per cent since 1996-97, when Labour came to power. As many as 4,809 people under 18 received in-patient care in 2004-2005 compared with 4,173 eight years before.

During the same period, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of adults admitted to hospital for drink-related disorders, up from 35,740 to 46,299.

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman, said: " It is the season to be jolly but, as these figures show, our binge drinking culture is leading to more and more people being admitted to hospital as a result of having too much to drink.

With the Government now pressing primary care trusts to stop spending in an attempt to plug the hole in NHS deficits, he expressed concern that preventative measures to tackle the causes of these hospital admissions, such as alcohol treatment services, are not scrapped.

Throughout the year reports have illustrated the growing alcohol problem. In the summer a survey from the NHS showed that the number of children under 15 buying alcohol illegally had doubled in 15 years.

It said that the annual survey of drinking, drug taking and smoking among 11- to 15-year-olds showed that little progress was made last year in stemming damaging habits. It also showed that girls were catching up with boys in their drinking habits.

In recent months, liver specialists have highlighted cases of young women developing symptoms that would normally belong in late middle age as a result of prolonged bouts of binge drinking. But while there has been much publicity about the rise of binge drinking among women, men are nearly five times more likely to become alcohol-dependent.


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