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As the last of the school and university exams come to an end, many young people will be looking to celebrate the start of the holidays by having a drink. Despite the fact it is illegal to buy alcohol under the age of 18; many teenagers in Cumbria whether they are over 18 or not do decide to drink alcohol which can have an impact on their health.
The Local Alcohol Profile for England (LAPE) shows figures for alcohol-specific hospital admissions of under 18s in Cumbria is “significantly worst” than the England average. In Cumbria in 09/10, 583 people aged under 20 years old were admitted to hospital after drinking alcohol.
The Department of Health recommends that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day or 21 units a week and women should not regularly exceed two to three units a day or 14 units a week. One unit is approximately half a pint of normal strength beer, one small glass of wine (125ml) or one small measure of spirits (25ml).
Cumbria's Public health bosses are as a result reminding young people to be sensible when drinking alcohol and are also reminding parents it is illegal to buy alcohol for anyone under 18 years old.
- Dress appropriately. Even though its summer, it can still become very cold at night.
- Make sure you know how you are getting home. Never drink drive or walk home alone and inform family or friends of your plans.
- Keep an eye on how much you have been drinking and try to alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks or water. Don’t mix alcohol with other substances or medication.
- Look out for your friends, stick together and tell someone if you start feeling unwell.
- If you change your plans, make sure you tell someone. Never put yourself in danger.
Prof John Ashton is NHS Cumbria’s Director of Public Health. He said: “Being careful on a night out doesn’t mean that people can’t have fun, but it is very important that people keep an eye on their friends and tell each other if their plans change.
“Excessive alcohol consumption is a big problem, but simply telling people not to drink is not the answer. The only way to tackle this issue is for everyone to work together to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol and to encourage and support them to drink moderately, if they choose to drink at all.
“Parents also need to be aware that they also need to set a good example when it comes to drinking and buying alcohol. Even if a parent or adult gives a child one alcoholic drink, they do not know that the child has not been given several other drinks by other adults thinking the same thing. Children learn from what they see, so if they are set a good example, then they are more likely to also follow this behaviour in the future."
Anyone with any questions around alcohol consumption or who wishes to speak to someone can contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647, visit their local community pharmacy or make an appointment with their GP