Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 00:03 UK

Boredom 'fuels teen alcohol use'

drunken girl in street
Rates of excessive alcohol consumption have been rising in the young

Many British teenagers turn to alcohol to relieve boredom, a survey suggests.

The charity Drinkaware found that 8% of the 16 and 17 year olds it questioned said they drank at least once a week simply because they were bored.

Nearly one-third (29%) of the 1,071 polled said they had drunk alcohol out of boredom at some point.

The charity warned the problem was likely to intensify during the summer holidays, as many young people found themselves with little to do.

Meanwhile, a separate survey of more 1,000 teachers, nurses, doctors, police and public health consultants suggests the overwhelming majority want tougher rules on the sale of alcohol, such as drinks promotions.

Overall, the survey Drinkaware suggests 61% of those aged 16 and 17 will be drinking alcohol over the summer.

When 11 litres of supermarket cider costs less than the price of a Harry Potter ticket, it's no wonder they think alcohol is better value for money
Don Shenker
Alcohol Concern

Given £20 per week to spend, 13% said they would be more likely to spend the money on alcohol and partying than shopping or entertainment.

Chris Sorek, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: "It is really important that 16 and 17 year olds don't unintentionally put themselves at risk when they drink alcohol.

"Drinking can increase the chances of either being the victim or a perpetrator of a crime and having unprotected sex leading to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

"If young people are drinking they should eat something beforehand, space their alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks, look after their mates and, if they're out, plan how they're going to get home."

Don Shenker, chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern, said drinking among young people was a significant problem.

He said: "For many young people drinking alcohol, even to excess, is simply a cheap form of entertainment.

"In many areas, there just isn't a good level of organised, free activity during the long summer holidays.

"When 11 litres of supermarket cider costs less than the price of a Harry Potter ticket, it's no wonder they think alcohol is better value for money."

The Drinkaware survey was carried out online.

Drinks promotions

Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England, recommends that young people aged 15 and under refrain from drinking alcohol.

Young people who do drink are advised not to exceed the recommended guidelines for adults: three to four units of alcohol per day for men, and two to three units per day for women.

The poll of teachers, nurses, doctors, police and public health consultants was carried out by Alcohol Concern, the UK Faculty of Public Health, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Physicians.

It found:

• 62% think that there should be a minimum price per unit for alcohol to stop deep discounting in supermarkets, off-licences and shops

• 77% believe that price promotions in pubs, bars and clubs that encourage excessive drinking should be banned

• 94% say that customers should always be able to buy alcohol in smaller measures if they wish

• 94% believe that information on the total units per drink should always be provided wherever alcohol is sold

Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Alcohol misuse is our national disgrace.

"Up and down the country nurses see the devastating effect that alcohol has in blighting the lives of young and old alike.

"Our message is clear - there must be tighter regulation on the sale, labelling and advertising of alcohol to tackle this growing problem.

"We need to get the message through to consumers about the dire consequences of drinking to excess."

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