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Confusing: Mixed Messages


Thursday, May 28th, 2009 Confusing: Mixed Messages

It is understood that ‘Alcohol-related hospital admissions for children have increased by a third in just six years, official Government data has revealed.’

The extent of the problem is such that those who are to young to legally drink in a public house, equates, on average, there are 40 under eighteen year olds admitted specifically to a hospital bed, and more notably, this occurs in England everyday. This undoubtedly is graphic evidence of abuse.

The source of the information is the Department of Health (DOH) and is directed only to children of whom have been admitted to hospital for at least one night. Hence only the most serious cases are highlighted.

It is of no surprise that Rebecca Smith’s of the Telegraph (22/05/09) report states, “The figures are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ because they do not include those taken to A&E, treated and discharged.”

Meanwhile, a recent article by Urmee Khan of the Telegraph (22/03/09) argues that ‘three times as many teenage girls have been admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning’ and that is official.

It is understood that more and more young children have also become victims of ‘binge drinking’ as ‘98 girls under the age of 14 were admitted to hospital last year.’

Furthermore, the apparent discrepancy between the sexes is more of a teenage cultural factor. Figures show that 4,439 girls aged 14 to 17 were seen by doctors for alcohol poisoning over the past five years, compared with 1,776 boys.

Collectively, we need to question, do our children learn by example? if there is a positive response to the said question, then, what fundamentally needs to be considered is that it has been reported that there are in excess of 10m adults in England alone who drink hazardous amounts of alcohol per week. What are our children learning from such an example?

There appears to be no consensus of opinion with the relevant agencies regarding the way forward. Experts have called for an increase in the cost of alcohol per unit.

What is apparent and very relevant to this report, is that the readers will evaluate the evidence presented. Alas, they will also evaluate that a very recent report from the Time’s Charlene Sweeney (08 05 09) exposes the fact that that only drink and drugs rehabilitation centre in Middlegate is facing closure as it is facing a funding crisis. With the extent of abuse exposed, it is a fundamental need to keep these facilities available to the youth.

The unit, more specifically treats 11-17 year olds, expressly with severe addiction and behavioural problems. In addition these children may have been referred to by ‘the youth justice system, health boards and primary care trusts, and drug action teams.’

There has been a previous slow down in the number of referrals back in 2004 as the number of beds in the dwelling was reduced from nine to five.

Similarly the number of referral has slowed again; there are now only 2 residents. Thus income has dropped dramatically. It is understood that the centre charges per person, per week the sum of £3,620. The course lasts 12 weeks.

According to Middlegates Chairman, Chris Robertson, stated, “They were “haemorrhaging” funds. “If referrals do not start coming in the next week or so we will face closure,”

In addition with reference to the Times, “Mr Robertson blamed the Government’s ‘target-driven approach’ to drug addiction, which, he claimed, rewards local authorities for treating people in the community. “Young people in the community can be given methadone three, four, five times and become addicted to that instead. We can get them detuned and back into society.”

Mr Robertson further justifies Middle gates fees by stating that they actually compare in a favourable way to secure accommodation for a troubled youngster costing on average £4,500 per week.

Essentially, the director of the facility, Fred Henry, claims that they have dealt with very vulnerable children, he says, “Most come from broken homes, where they have been abused by their father, or have parents who are users,”

Nonetheless, he adds, “A lot of the girls are prostituting themselves to feed their habit. When you get them to detox, you find the real reasons, usually some sort of trauma in their life. But it takes a lot of very intensive therapy to get to that point.”

Finally he argues that some of the children would be dead, had they not been fortunate enough to attend Middlegate.

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