Cheap drink and alcopops are fuelling booze problem
THE boss of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service says he suspects that alcohol problems in children are probably worse than official figures suggest.
Jeremy Prichard, chief executive of Plymouth's Harbour Drug and Alcohol Services, said the solution was only to be achieved through education.
"As a service provider these figures don't surprise me. I suspect there are more problems out there but I don't have the evidence for that, " he said.
"We just need to make sure that those who are having problems with alcohol know about our service, have easy access to it and don't ever hesitate to get in touch.
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"We don't judge anyone who comes through our doors and, if needs be, we will come to you. We will meet people anywhere they feel comfortable."
He said the "relative cheapness" of alcohol made it more accessible than ever.
"Age limit is no prevention for young people getting alcohol," he said. "Young people will just get others to buy it for them.
"It's the marketing of alcohol and alcopops that get people into drinking. If you just add sugar to a drink it makes it easier to drink – then some develop a problem with it.
"When I was young the only access to alcohol we had was at home and that was restricted. There is no doubt that over time as access has become easier there has been an increase in those developing problems."
He said awareness, education and "catching a problem" early were the best solutions.
"There can be any reasons young people start drinking – peer pressure, the pressures of life – I cannot answer why people drink but often alcohol is the symptom of other problems. The more we can do in the education field, making people aware of what alcoholism is, the less we will have to do at the treatment stage."
Cllr Nicky Williams, cabinet member for Children and Young people in Plymouth said a lot was being done in the city.
She added: "We are investing in an early intervention and prevention approach so we can work with other agencies to identify young people who may be risk of substance abuse so we can prevent the problem in the first place."
She said Plymouth City Council had commissioned Harbour Drug and Alcohol Services to deliver "specialist alcohol interventions" to those in most need.
She added: "Our Youth Service also helps young people address their drinking issues. We are also working to ensure families experiencing alcohol problems can address their misuse."
Young people who would like help from Harbour can call a phone line especially for them on 01752 434295.