Page last updated at 00:46 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 01:46 UK

Charity warns over child drinkers

By Tamasin Ford
Radio 1 Newsbeat, Plymouth


Kaylee: "I drank anything and everything"

Fewer children are drinking but those who do are consuming more than ever before, a charity has warned.

Alcohol Concern said the number of under-18s admitted to hospital has risen, and more have liver disease.

The UK has some of the highest rates of alcohol consumption among young people in Europe, with only Ireland and Finland having more.

Alcohol Concern has called for the introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol to tackle the problem.

The Scottish Government is proposing such a measure in an Alcohol Bill due later this year, while in England and Wales the focus is on tackling the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers as well as helping those with problems.

Vodka binge

Last month a 22-year-old became one of the youngest people in the country to die of liver disease, and those diagnosed are getting younger.

The British Liver Trust says the UK will have the highest liver disease death rate in Europe within two years if things do not change.

More teenagers are getting help for drug and alcohol problems than ever before, according to the National Treatment Agency.

If I didn't have a drink for an hour or two, I'd be shaking. It was horrible
Kaylee, 15

That is partly due to more services being made available, but there is real concern about the amounts of alcohol some young people are drinking.

Tina Hobbs from Plymouth's alcohol and drug treatment centre Hamoaze House said: "I think for some of my young people it is massive because they binge drink as well.

"You know, over a weekend some young people can buy up to six bottles of vodka as well as cider and drink it."

Fifteen-year-old Kaylee, who has been treated there for alcohol problems for the last four months, told the BBC she started drinking at 11 and had quit school altogether by 12.

She said: "I'd drink until I'd pass out. I'd just drink and drink practically every day, pretty much from Monday to Sunday.

"At school I'd just get drunk before I went. They had about 10 minutes of me being there so they could try and stop me but after a while they gave up because they knew they wouldn't be able to.

Proper relationship

"I got to the stage where I needed a drink every couple of hours. It was like if I didn't have a drink for an hour or two, I'd be shaking. It was horrible."

Michael Lake talks about how Hamoaze House helped him control his drinking

Mark Bignell, chief executive of Hamoaze House, said part of their work includes finding things the young people cherish.

"I think they often have an investment at keeping everybody at arms length and we try and help them not to do that."

Getting the young people active is key to driving home the message of what alcohol can do to your body.

"At the time I was feeling really ill all the time and now it's like I can actually go out and not be coughing or anything," said Kaylee.

"I actually feel well and as you can see I'm not shaking anymore."

For Kaylee, sorting her life out could not have come soon enough.

"I can actually have a proper relationship now like I'm living back at home instead of on the streets. I think if I hadn't of quit, I'd be six foot under or in jail, either one."

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