More teen drunks end up in hospital, raising drinking age to 18 had no impact

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The number of teenagers drinking themselves into a stupor and being hospitalised rose again last year, after dropping in 2016, the NRC said on Friday.

Last year, 860 teenagers ended up in hospital, a rise of 70 on 2016. Most of them were in a coma when they were admitted, the paper said.

Doctors have been keeping a record of how many children are admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning since 2007.




Researcher and paediatrician Nico van der Lely told the paper that an alcohol-induced coma is like hitting a child on the head with a baseball bat. ‘If you have been that drunk twice, your IQ will drop 10 to 15 points, and that can mean a different educational level,’ he told the NRC in an interview.

The figures also show that increasing the age at which teenagers can buy alcohol from 16 to 18 has not had an impact on the figures.

Age

The average age has only gone up slightly since 2007 – from 14.9 to 15.5 years. Boys account for 55% of the cases, a figure which has not changed over the years.

Around one third of teen drunks is at a vocational school, 25% at a pre-college school and 21% at a pre-university school – so the problem plays across all classes and educational levels.  Strong alcohol, such as vodka, is by far the most popular drink among teenagers.

Events like the Sneek Week sailing festival and sports weekends like Hockeyloverz are ‘our main suppliers’ Van der Lely said. ‘It is not a question of addiction or an individual problem with a child,’ he said. ‘It is a problem in society.’


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