Juvenile alcohol abuse surges

More German children and teenagers got dangerously drunk in 2008 than at any time in the past decade, leading to a surge in hospitalisations, the federal government’s drug commissioner announced Tuesday.

Juvenile alcohol abuse surges
Photo: DPA

Some 25,700 people aged between 10 and 20 were taken to hospital last year because of alcohol poisoning, commissioner Mechthild Dyckmans said.

That is a 170 percent rise since the first comparable survey in 2000 and an 11 percent rise on 2007.

However, regular alcohol consumption among the age group actually fell compared with previous years, said Dyckmans, who is also a federal member of parliament for the Free Democrats (FDP).

Nevertheless, it was a depressing picture, she said.

“Never before have so many children and youngsters got drunk with such abandon. More must be done to counter the binge drinking of this ever-growing group of children and youngsters.”

Especially worrying were the 4,500 children aged 10 to 15 who had to be treated in hospital for alcohol-poisoning, a group that has grown by 19 percent since 2007.

The most disturbing figure, Dyckmans said, was the 22 percent rise in hospital admissions among 10- to 15-year-old girls, from 1,900 to 2,400. This was the largest rise of any group between 2007 and 2008.

Dyckmans called for all sellers of alcohol to demand proof of age of anyone who looked under 25.

“Many petrol stations have successfully done this for a while. I will discuss this idea soon with the Association of German Retailers (HDE),” she said.

Moreover, further alcohol prevention measures in schools had to be considered, she said. And more discussion of alcohol prevention had to be encouraged by parents and within families.

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