The County You Live, Work And Play
Underage Drinkers On The Increase
The number of young people admitted to hospital in Lanarkshire with alcohol-related diagnoses has increased in the last three years.
Freedom of Information figures show that last year 53 under-age drinkers were admitted for treatment across Monklands, Wishaw and Hairmyres hospitals, compared to 32 in 2012.
There were a total of 122 individuals aged 17 or under treated across the three hospitals in the last three years.
In 2012 there were 14 recorded instances at Monklands Hospital – the highest of all three facilities in North Lanarkshire. The figure of 14 has remained constant in Monklands while the numbers have risen considerably at the other two hospitals.
Wishaw General has seen its total rise from 10 cases in 2012 to 24 in 2014, while the number of underage drinkers admitted to Hairmyres increased from eight to 15 in the same time period.
Monklands MSPs Elaine Smith and Alex Neil gave their concerns over the figures.
Coatbridge and Chryston representative Ms Smith said: “It’s deeply concerning to learn that alcohol consumption amongst our young people in North Lanarkshire is rising.
“This shows starkly that the problem is not being properly addressed.
“This is a major health problem in our area and should be treated as such. Alcohol abuse contributes to other health problems later in life and our young people need to be more educated about the dangers of starting to drink at an early age.
“The Scottish Government must treat this as a priority and find innovative ways to tackle this problem.
“A mixture of better health education and action on alcohol consumption should be implemented to ensure these figures do not continue to rise.
“If the SNP government fail to tackle this problem in our area they will not only let local young people down but also stack up problems for the future.”
However, Airdrie and Shotts MSP Alex Neil insists a minimum unit pricing would go a long way to addressing the problem.
He said: “Figures like these are the reason the Scottish Government want to introduce minimum unit pricing.
“Unfortunately things are being currently held up by an irresponsible challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association.
“In this country we have a major problem with alcohol abuse among young people, particularly young women.
“It causes damage to health, to your pocket and to potential career opportunities. All the evidence shows that minimum unit pricing is an effective solution to this problem.
“But we also need to educate people about the damage it does.”
The statistics showed that over three years a total of 23 youngsters aged 14 or under were treated, 23 were aged 15, 28 were 16 years of age and 48 were aged 17.
Saturday was the day when most young people were admitted, with 16 being treated in 2012, 11 in 2013 and 18 last year.