Report: Young Brits More Likely To Get Drunk

Becky Johnson, North of England Correspondent
Report: Young Brits More Likely To Get Drunk

Young people in the UK are more likely to have been drunk by the age of 13 than those in almost any other country.

A report has also found that 15 and 16-year-olds are more likely to have been drunk in the last month than their foreign counterparts.

The survey carried out for the charity Alcohol Concern found only youngsters in Estonia, Malta and the Isle of Man drink more than young people in the UK.

Sixteen-year-old Charmaine McGivern, from Wythenshawe in Greater Manchester, told Sky News she started drinking when she was 13 with a group of older friends.

"They were saying to me 'drink' and because I was younger I took the drink and I was drinking and it was in one of my mate's houses. They were persuasive and everything, telling me to drink, telling me that it was fun, but then I got the hang of drinking."

She described how she ended up in hospital when she was 14 because she was so drunk she fell and broke her ankle.

"It wasn't a nice feeling being in hospital because I had to be on a drip. And it was from there I noticed that I was turning into an alcoholic and basically I was on the booze … and I found out I had alcohol poisoning."

She no longer drinks and says the damage alcohol did to her health has put her off it for life.

But the study found in general young people "drink to get drunk" with 63% of 16 to 24-year-olds agreeing that cheap alcohol promotions encourage then to drink to excess.

In March 1,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 were interviewed by research agency YouthSite for the study. They repeatedly told researchers it is "cheaper to buy a three-litre bottle of cider than buy a ticket to go to the cinema".

The study is being published to mark the start of Alcohol Awareness Week. It claims that alcohol is 44% more affordable now in relative terms than it was in 1980.

It also found that there has been a 25% increase in the number of off-licenced premises, which means "cheap" alcohol is more available.

Alcohol Concern's programme policy manager, Tom Smith, said: "This report is further proof of the impact cheap alcohol is having on the health and wellbeing of our young people.

"They have told us loud and clear that the way in which alcohol is priced influences the way they drink. We also know that our young people are more likely to have experienced being drunk by the age of 13 than their peers in almost any other European country.

"This survey shows just how urgent action on minimum unit pricing is and we're calling on the Government to set a 50p minimum unit price without delay."

Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said: "Having open and frank conversations as a society about the way we drink has never been more important and this report highlights that.

"We know that as a nation we love talking about alcohol and we all have an opinion about it, but are we having the right conversations?

"We've really got to get this right for the sake of future generations. I hope people will embrace this opportunity to get talking and thinking about their drinking."

A Home Office spokesman said: "This is further evidence that cheap alcohol contributes to irresponsible drinking. Introducing a minimum unit price is just one of a range of measures the Government is taking to tackle the minority who cause alcohol-related crime and disorder in our local communities.

"We have already introduced early morning restriction orders to curb alcohol sales, a late night levy to ensure those selling alcohol help pay towards the costs of policing and we have made it easier for local authorities to tackle problematic licenced premises."

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