Figures reveal extent of underage drinking problem

One in ten patients admitted to hospital with alcohol problems is under 18, new figures show.

A total of 8,494 under-18s were admitted to hospital through drink in 2007, representing a greater than 50 per cent increase since 1996, the NHS figures reveal.

With nearly a third of 15-year-olds telling pollsters that it was fine to get drunk at least once a week, medical experts are concerned by the extent of the problem.

A specialist at Cygnet Healthcare, a private provider of psychiatric care for patients with psychological, emotional and addiction problems, said that the reasons for excessive drinking are linked with our mental health, and that this therefore holds the key to dealing with alcohol addiction.

Dr Peter Rowan explained: "Alcohol is an anti-anxiety drug, so people may have cravings to drink to alleviate the stress they feel in everyday life."

The chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Dr Andrew McCulloch, added: "Mental health is swept under the carpet while debate focuses on the physical consequences of alcohol misuse."

Concerns have also been raised about the marketing of new alcohol products to young women.

Swiss-based Necker has been criticised for its new spirit-based Girl brand, one of which is blended with cognac and vodka at 25 per cent alcohol.

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Figures reveal extent of underage drinking problem
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