Fewer Shropshire youngsters in hospital over alcohol - and it's thanks to coffee culture
Coffee culture is partly responsible for a sharp drop in the number of children being treated for alcohol poisoning, according to experts.
Almost 1,400 children have been treated at Shropshire’s hospitals for alcohol-related problems in the last four years. But fewer teenagers are generally being treated year-on-year.
Sonya Jones, team manager for Young Addaction Shropshire, part of Shropshire Recovery Partnership, said the reduced number of young people drinking and needing hospital treatment was partly because of a move towards coffee shops and partly down to an increasing awareness of health issues.
Far fewer are finding themselves in that predicament than in previous years. And trend appears to show that, year-on-year, fewer teenagers are experimenting with alcohol and coming off worse.
Sonya said: "Certainly drinking is going out of fashion with young people. My referrals are reducing. We're not seeing as many young people presenting with alcohol problems as 10 years ago.
"People are adapting to a healthier lifestyle. They don't seem to be gathering as they used to.
"You only have to walk through Shrewsbury town centre to see young people sat outside Starbucks. Drinking alcohol just isn't as fashionable among young people anymore."
Last year, 225 children were treated for alcohol-related issues at the county's two main hospitals, this compares to 421 in 2014, a 46 per cent decrease.
Meanwhile, Telford & Wrekin Council said strong prevention work in schools and police projects are helping to tackle the problem and reduce numbers.
Monica Floristean, spokeswoman for Telford & Wrekin Council said: “Public Health England reports that in Telford & Wrekin alcohol related hospital admissions in under 18 year olds have fallen sharply in recent years.
"This is due to a number of factors, including strong prevention work in schools which inform thousands of young people every year of the risks, through Crucial Crew, alcohol awareness theatre in education and the Star (Stop. Think. Act. Reflect) police project.
"There is significant joint proactive police and council management of the night time economy in the borough too, including a reduction of under 18 disco events and work with licensed premises, such as advice visits and test purchase operations."
Shropshire Council outlined a number of risks associated with underage drinking.
Jayne Randall, Shropshire Council’s drugs and alcohol strategic commissioner, said: “It is important young people and their parents get appropriate support following any incident involving alcohol.
"There are a number of risks associated with underage drinking and due to a young person’s weight and size, they can rapidly become intoxicated by alcohol.
"As well as the usual effects of drunkenness, such as slurred speech and loss of balance, it can have serious consequences affecting breathing and heartbeat, as well as lower body temperature which could lead to hypothermia.
"Young people under the influence of alcohol are particularly vulnerable to a whole range of risks, including becoming a victim of crime, perpetrating a crime along with injury and falls.
“As the teenage brain is still developing, alcohol can affect many functions, including memory, reactions, learning ability and attention. It is also known the onset of early regular drinking can increase the risk of liver disease, at an earlier age.
"As well as the risks of alcohol related liver disease, we also know regular drinking can lead to a number of alcohol related cancers, including cancer of the breast, stomach and throat in later life."
The council works with a number of partners to ensure young people are supported.
Jayne added: “Shropshire Council’s public health team works with a number of partners, including SaTH, to ensure timely access to specialist services. All young people and their parents can access support for alcohol and drug issues through Young Addaction.
“Shropshire Council’s public health team also works with schools, school nurses, health visitors children services and other professionals working with young people to identify early issues and to prevent the early onset of alcohol and drug use through education and enabling young people to make informed choices.
“As part of the prevention measures in place, Shropshire Council’s public protection team also undertake underage checks to ensure alcohol is only sold to those aged 18 plus, who are able to confirm their age by proof of identity.”