• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

1,000 under-age drinkers a year taken to hospital

Almost 1,000 underage drinkers are taken to hospital each year following alcohol-related incidents in Scotland.

Figures reveal 2,921 under 18s have been subject to emergency call-outs in the last three years.

Paramedics have also witnessed 877 cases in the same period where youngsters under the influence of drugs have been taken to hospital.

Staff with the Scottish ­Ambulance Service believe that while the numbers affected by alcohol have fallen slightly over the last three years, the reality is actually far worse as alcohol and drug-related incidents are under-reported.

Campaigners and politicians argue the statistics underline the need to introduce minimum unit pricing for licensed drinks in Scotland.

Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief ­executive of Alcohol Focus ­Scotland, added: "These figures are concerning and more evidence of the considerable impact of alcohol on the NHS.

"It is particularly concerning that alcohol has played a part in so many teenagers needing hospital treatment for illness or injury.

"Excessive drinking is often fuelled by cheap, strong alcohol. Increasing the cost of the cheapest, strongest drinks like white cider and own brand vodka, along with regulating the availability of alcohol, will be the most effective way to reduce consumption and harm."

Jackson Carlaw MSP, health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: "These figures show the sheer scale of the challenge we face in Scotland.

"Our relationship with alcohol is deep and complex. This is why the Scottish Government needs to get a move on with its plans for minimum pricing, which have been stuck in the system for longer than most of us care to remember.

"Their best hope is that it may be approved by the European Commission towards the end of this year, which is more than 18 months after it was passed at Holyrood.

"If this isn't approved, the SNP has not come up with any alternatives, and all the while thousands of people are being admitted to hospital as a result of alcohol abuse."

The Scottish Government argues fewer youngsters are using illegal drugs and the number of hospital discharges related to substance abuse is down.

A spokesman said: "We are committed to protecting young people from the harm caused by alcohol and substance misuse and to support them to make positive choices.

"We are committed to introducing minimum unit pricing as part of a package of measures which will address the availability of high-strength, low-cost alcohol which does so much damage to Scottish communities.

"We're also determined to take licensing action to tackle under-age drinking."

The number of drug-related admissions rose from 258 in 2011/12 to 328 in 2013/14.

Scottish Labour's wellbeing spokeswoman Rhoda Grant has called on the Scottish Government to refocus its attention on the social inequalities that can foster greater drug use within poorer communities.

She said: "It's worrying that the number of young people affected by drug-related incidents is growing at such a rate.

"We know drug addiction disproportionately affects those in poorer communities more than others and there has to be a co-ordinated approach through education and social services to tackle this issue."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

257122