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Alcohol use in children and young people

Last Modified 20/05/2021 13:06:07 Share this page


Whilst the majority of young people do not use alcohol or drugs, and most of those that do are not dependent, drug and alcohol misuse can have a major impact on young people's education, their health, their families and their long-term chances in life. Further information on alcohol-related harm in Blackpool is available in the Alcohol section. The Parental Substance Misuse section provides information on children living with alcohol misusing parents.

Facts and Figure

Hospital admissions due to alcohol specific conditions

    • There were 58 young people living in Blackpool under the age of 18 years who were admitted to hospital due to alcohol specific conditions in the 3-year period 2015/16-2017/18.
    • The admission rate of 67.3 per 100,000 population is 2 times higher than the national average of 32.9 per 100,000.
    • While the trend in Blackpool continues to fall (figure 1), the admission rate for young people in the town is still significantly higher than the national average.
    • Young women are twice as likely to be admitted as young men and admission rates for young women in Blackpool are almost 2.5 time higher than the national average (figure 2).

Figure 1: Trend in alcohol specific hospital admissions in young people aged under 18, Blackpool and England

Alcohol admission trend-u18
Source: PHE Local Alcohol Profiles for England

Figure 2: Alcohol specific hospital admissions in males and females aged under 18, 2015/16-2017/18

Alcohol admission mfp-u18
Source: PHE Local Alcohol Profiles for England

Attitudes and experiences

Blackpool Health Related Behaviour Survey (2017)

The Health Related Behaviour Survey, produced by the Schools and Students Health Education Unit (SHEU) is a way of collecting robust information about young people’s lifestyles. Data from the 2017 survey shows that in Blackpool:

Blackpool Primary school pupils - Years 4 and 6 (ages 8 and 11)

    • 5% of boys and 5% of girls in Year 6 said that they drank an alcoholic drink (more than just a sip) in the week before the survey.
    • 89% of pupils say that they don’t drink alcohol.
    • 2% of pupils reported that their parents ‘never’ or only ‘sometimes’ know if they drink alcohol.
    • 2% of pupils drank beer or lager, 1% said wine, 1% said cider in the week before the survey.

Blackpool Secondary school pupils - Years 8 and 10 (ages 12 and 15)

    • 1% of Year 10 pupils bought alcohol in the last 7 days from a supermarket and 2% from an off-licence who should only sell to over-18s.
    • 7% of Year 8 and 21% of Year 10 pupils drank alcohol on at least one day in the week before the survey.
    • When asked for their main reasons for drinking  77% of drinkers said it was ‘often’ or ‘always’ ‘to socialise and have fun’, 38% of drinkers said ‘to get drunk’.
    • 10% of pupils reported that in the last year they have been drunk at least ‘once or twice a month’.

When looking at the changes in alcohol data between previous SHEU surveys, there has been a downward trend since 2007 locally in alcohol use amongst all age groups in the survey. When comparing the Blackpool data to the wider SHEU survey sample, there is no significant difference between young people in Blackpool and than their comparators from other areas.

North West Young Peoples' Alcohol and Tobacco Survey (2017)

The Trading Standards North West 'Young Persons' Alcohol, Tobacco and E-cigarette Survey 2017' has been conducted in the North West every two years since 2005. The survey questionnaire was largely the same to that used in previous surveys to enable tracking of results. A total of 9,173 questionnaires were completed and returned.

The report summarises the key findings of a survey to assess the behaviour and attitudes of 14 to 17 year olds in the North West towards alcohol. The key responses were:

    • Young people in the NW are drinking less – The percentage who have never drunk alcohol continues to rise, where they are drinking they are consuming less units of alcohol per week, and the percentage claiming to drink alcohol once a week or more continues to fall (although is slightly higher amongst 17 year olds).
    • The percentage identifying themselves as regular binge drinkers continues to fall - Although we have seen an increase in the level of occasional binge drinking compared to two years ago.
    •  Where young people choose to drink has changed significantly over the last 10 years - Fewer are drinking in pubs and clubs or outside (although the percentage drinking outside has increased slightly in the last two years), and more are drinking at home or in their friends’ homes under parental supervision.
    • Young people appear to becoming more sensible towards alcohol - Big falls in the percentage who think that getting drunk is normal and fun, although attitudes towards drinking do change significantly amongst 17 year olds.
    • Clear differences in behaviour by age and gender - Young girls are more conscious of the need to drink in groups and more concerned about their drinks being spiked. The most significant shifts in behaviour amongst young people appear to occur between the ages of 16 and 17.

What About YOUth? Survey 2014

What About YOUth? 2014 (WAY 2014) was a survey designed to collect robust local authority level data on a range of health behaviours amongst 15 year-olds.

    • A higher proportion of Blackpool 15 year olds have had an alcoholic drink (71% compared to 62.4% nationally) and 15.8% report having been drunk in the past 4 weeks.

Local Services

The Hub- Blackpools Young People's Drug Alcohol Service offers 1-1 treatment, support, advice and information for young people, parents, carers and professionals around drug and alcohol misuse. As well as 1-1 work with young people, the hub also offers group work for young people who are actively misusing substances to raise their awareness and to offer support. Referral is by self-referral or can be made by a family member, friend, or professional. There is also a drop in service available every Monday to Friday at Connect on Talbot Road from 1.00 - 4.00pm. People with concerns can call in and ask to speak to a hub worker.

National and local strategies

    • Blackpool Alcohol Strategy 2016-2019 highlight the many areas of our lives touched by alcohol misuse in Blackpool and sets out the action plan for reducing alcohol-related harm.

    • NICE guideline [PH7] Alcohol: school-based interventions, (November 2007) provides recommendations that focus on encouraging children not to drink, delaying the age at which they start drinking and reducing the harm it can cause among those who do drink.
    • A Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England highlights the association between alcohol hospital admissions and teenage pregnancy, how alcohol consumption lowers inhibitions regarding risky sexual activity  and vulnerability, leads to the increased liklihood of regretted or coerced sex and also increases the risk of sexual aggression and sexual violence.