CHILDREN are ending up in hospital because of under-age drinking and drug taking.

Youngsters in Bolton are more likely to end up in hospital because of drinking than their national counterparts.

MARY NAYLOR reports.

PARENTS should take more of a role in teaching their children about drugs and alcohol says an addiction treatment centre.

UK Addiction Treatment has raised concerns about the number of children ending up in hospital for drink and drug abuse.

In Bolton the number of under 18s admitted to hospital for alcohol abuse is significantly worse than the rest of England.

In the last three years 97 children have been admitted to hospital for an alcohol-related condition, in neighbouring Bury it was just 35 kids.

Across England an average of 32.9 children out of every 100,000 ended up in hospital because of alcohol abuse ­— Compared to 48.4 out of 100,000 in Bolton.

In Bolton there were 104 hospital admissions for drug taking or substance misuse in 15 to 24 year olds in the last three years ­— 102 people in every 100,000. Again here Bolton is worse than the national picture (87.9 in 100,000) but compares favourably with the rest of the north west (120.1 in 100,000)

A spokesman for Royal Bolton Hospital said the figures for alcohol and substance misuse in the town do bear out what is seen by staff working in A&E.

Reasons for attendances go beyond alcohol poisoning or passing out, the lack of control brought on by drugs of any kind leads to injuries from slipping and falling.

A hospital spokesman said: “The majority of cases we see are young adults as opposed to children and adolescents.

“People who have been drinking excessive alcohol or taking illegal substances are at a higher risk of injuring themselves and treatment required is often due to injuries they have sustained, for example, from falling over.

“Mental health can also be affected by alcohol and drugs and patients may attend the hospital with a low mood, and we work with colleagues at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to provide appropriate care.”

UKAT believes discussing the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs with children can help prevent them from ending up in hospital.

Eytan Alexander, CEO of UKAT, said: “Prevention should be the priority in tackling the rise of drink and drug misuse amongst children in order to avoid the beast which is addiction developing in later life. It is imperative that parents living across the North West address the topic of drugs and alcohol early on with their children.

“Be informed and be clear.

“Discuss the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs on the body as well as the legal consequences associated with them. Do this for them whilst they’re young and we could start to see these numbers lowering.”

The NHS agrees with UKAT that talking to children can sway them away from drinking too much.

By surveying secondary school children about their drinking the NHS found that parental attitudes towards drinking played a big impact on whether a child had tried alcohol and children were much more likely to have had a drink if they lived with three drinkers than children who lived with non-drinkers. The NHS found 79 per cent of children living with non-drinkers had never had a drink.

However, the NHS research shows the majority (70 per cent) of children who do drink are given it from their parents or guardians.

Attitudes to drinking among children are changing though. Over a 13-year period the NHS found drinking had become less acceptable in the eyes of children.

In 2003, 46 per cent of secondary school children thought drinking once a week was okay, compared to just 25 per cent in 2016.

The same survey also looked at drug taking among teenagers and the NHS said: “There are particular concerns about the relationship between drug use and mental health problems among young people.

“For example, there is evidence to suggest that young people who use recreational drugs run the risk of damage to mental health including suicide, depression, psychotic symptoms and disruptive behaviour disorders.”

In 2016 the NHS found 18 per cent of secondary pupils had taken drugs that year and 10 per cent had taken them that month. Cannabis (class B) was found to be the drug children were most likely to have tried with class A drugs (ie cocaine, ecstasy [MDMA]) the least likely.

The NHS found the older a child was the more likely they were to have been offered drugs and 20 per cent had been offered cannabis at some stage.

These drugs are being dealt among children the NHS found with almost half of pupils saying they got drugs from a friend, however, 26 per cent said they had got drugs from a dealer.

The NHS also asked why a child had first taken a drug, the overwhelming majority said it was to see what it feels like. When asked why they took drugs after that the majority (41 per cent) said it was to get high or feel good.

In the north west 5,500 children were admitted to hospitals for drink and drug abuse ­— the highest regional rate in England.

The data, from Public Health England’s 2019 Child Health Report published in March, shows 2,187 children were admitted to hospitals across the North West because of alcohol abuse plus an additional 3,232 being admitted for substance misuse.

The children admitted to hospital because of alcohol abuse were all under the age of 18, whilst those admitted for substance misuse were aged 15-24.

UKAT has revealed it has seen a huge 185 per cent rise in the number of young addicts checking into rehab in the last three years.

In 2015, UKAT treated 93 patients aged 21 or under for substance based addictions, jumping dramatically to 266 in 2018.

A spokesman for Public Health England said: “The number of young people being admitted to hospital because of drug and alcohol misuse is concerning.

“PHE North West is supporting local authorities and partners to provide appropriate support and treatment for young people who misuse drugs or alcohol.

“For anyone who wants support for drug use, effective services are available.

“Search ‘Talk to FRANK’ to find out more.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “In Bolton, the 360 Substance Misuse Service offers dedicated support across a range of issues relating to drugs and alcohol for children, young people and families.

“The service can be contacted on 01204 337330.”