Suffolk: Children aged 12 treated for alcohol abuse

CHILDREN as young as 12 have needed specialist treatment for alcohol problems in Suffolk, new figures reveal.

The statistics, for the last three years, show 355 children were given specialist care because of concerns over their drinking.

But the figures, released by Suffolk PCT following a Freedom of Information request, reveal a downward trend in recent years and experts said last night that there is now better education and awareness in schools of the problems linked to alcohol.

There were 130 youngsters seen in 2009/10 - when at least one child aged 12 received treatment - but that fell to 114 the following year and to 111 in 2011/12.

Simon Aalders, co-ordinator at Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team, welcomed the drop and said it was down to greater awarenes.

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He said: “Young people are much more aware of the harm alcohol can do. There’s discussions in schools and education is where the most gains will be made.

“It helps them discuss and understand the impact drinking too much can have.

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“The awareness raising has been absolutely fundamental to our ongoing success.”

Mr Aalders, although welcoming the drop to 111, said there were still youngsters they were not seeing.

He added: “There will always be a percentage of people that we don’t see. They will tend to have strong family networks.

“I’m not trivialising it in any way but it becomes a pattern of behaviour and they come out of it the other side without any long lasting conditions.

“We know it’s not just 111 [young] people in the county with alcohol problems. People present when they recognise they have a problem.

“They present when the young person is using alcohol and it’s having a negative impact on their lives. It does not necessarily mean alcohol addition.”

Suffolk’s figures, however, compare badly with North East Essex, which treated 67 children for alcohol problems over the same period.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust covers a population of around 600,000 people, compared with 322,000 at North East Essex PCT.

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