Urge to tackle teenage alcohol abuse

A Lagan Valley has challenged Stormont’s Health Minister to “do more to combat the scourge of teenage alcohol abuse.”

The appeal came from UUP MLA Mr Robbie Butler after it emerged there is no information on the number of under 16s treated in A&E departments for excessive drinking of alcohol.

Mr Butler had asked the Minister of Health how many people under the age of 16 years received treatment in hospitals for excessive alcohol consumption, in each of the last three years.

Responding to Butler, the Minister said: “It is assumed that this question refers to the number of people under the age of 16 that were treated for excessive alcohol consumption in emergency care departments. Information on the number of people under the age of 16 that received treatment for excessive alcohol consumption in emergency care departments is not available.”

Mr Butler added: “This is a shocking admission that no such figures are available. Sadly we witness the effect of teenage alcohol abuse daily with evidence of vandalism, anti-social behaviour and in extreme cases criminal or violent actions. Alcohol addiction is a very real danger for our young people with lifelong debilitating consequences.

“However, the sad reality is that this teenage alcohol problem is a reality on our own front doorsteps and it must be addressed as soon as possible before it becomes a mini epidemic.”