Young people more and more often in the hospital because of alcohol abuse
Alcohol abuse among young people continued to increase in 2009. In many federal states, adolescent-related admission to hospitals has reached its highest level to date. Health experts believe that the numbers will continue to rise. Against this background, politicians are also calling for stricter measures against parents.
The German Employee Health Insurance Fund (DAK) has published its figures for cases of alcohol abuse among young people for 2009. This shows that more and more adolescents have to be treated in the hospital after massive alcohol consumption. Alcohol-related hospital deliveries by adolescents peaked throughout Germany in 2009, even though the numbers declined slightly in some federal states. The so-called "binge drinking" is still extremely widespread among adolescents, as the information provided by the DAK shows.
Alcohol abuse increased the most in Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony
The most dramatic is the increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions in Rhineland-Palatinate (1,664 cases in 2009, plus 11 percent compared to the previous year) and in Lower Saxony (2,685 cases in 2009, plus 10.3 percent compared to the previous year). Even in the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, seven percent more adolescents had to be hospitalized after a binge (a total of just under 6,500) than in 2008. In Bavaria (5,316 cases, plus 3.5 percent) and Baden-Württemberg (4,028 cases, plus 1.7 percent), the number of alcohol-related hospital deliveries has also continued to increase, albeit less rapidly than in Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate. In Berlin, 408 adolescents had to be treated for alcohol abuse in the hospital, which corresponds to an increase of six percent. All of the federal states mentioned so far have reached unpleasant highs with increases in alcohol abuse, which show that coma binge drinking is still very widespread among young people. The DAK therefore warns that binge drinking is often the first step in lifelong drug addiction. "Addiction careers usually begin with alcohol or nicotine," Frank Meiner, psychologist at the DAK told the dpa news agency.
Less alcohol abuse in some eastern German states
In the federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, however, the current DAK figures appear at first glance to represent a turning point in alcohol consumption among young people. In Brandenburg, for example, 407 adolescents had to be hospitalized in 2009 for massive alcohol abuse, which corresponds to a decrease of 7.1 percent compared to the previous year. According to the DAK, the number of juvenile binge drinkers in Saxony even fell by 15.8 percent compared to the previous year, so that in 2009 928 alcohol-related hospital admissions were still required. In Saxony-Anhalt, too, the number of hospital admissions fell by 12.2 percent to 704 cases in 2009. The DAK press spokesman Rüdiger Scharf emphasized, however. "That does not mean that the problem has decreased." Because in the federal states mentioned, the number of young people has already decreased due to the decline in births and emigration.
Alcohol consumption among young people is alarming
Overall, according to the DAK, the development is extremely worrying. In some federal states, the number of alcohol-related hospitalizations among young people has almost doubled within ten years, as the current DAK figures show. The so-called “binge drinking” is still more widespread among boys than among girls, but compared to 2003 the girls grew disproportionately. "The current figures are alarming," emphasized Michael Hübner, the DAK head of state in Rhineland-Palatinate. Frank Meiners, the DAK psychologist, explained that the careless handling of many young people with the legal drugs of beer, schnapps or wine must be addressed more strongly in schools and companies than before. The adolescents have to understand that "excessive drinking (...) is not a way out to balance requirements at work or school", emphasized the expert. Michael Hübner also said: "We urgently need to put the topic on the timetable." The DAK press spokesman Rüdiger Scharf emphasized that the DAK therefore wants to continue its poster campaign "colorful instead of blue" against binge drinking in schools and has already written to 11,000 schools had been. In its statements, the DAK refers to the numbers of the regional statistical offices for the group of ten to 20 year olds, which have not yet been evaluated for all federal states. The DAK has not yet been able to provide any information for 2010.
Participation in emergency room costs required
As early as mid-December, the CDU health expert Jens Spahn asked parents to contribute to the hospital and transportation costs of drunk children and adolescents. In an interview, the politician pointed out that the number of hospital admissions has almost tripled in the past eight years. The ten- to fifteen-year-olds now represent a fifth of the adolescents admitted. Here, the parents would violate their duty of care and supervision, warned Spahn. For this reason, parents should at least share in the costs. So far, this position has not been able to assert itself within the coalition.
In most cases, addiction is recognized too late
Overall, there is an increase in alcohol consumption in Germany. According to the German Center for Addiction Issues, Germans generally drink far too much alcohol. According to studies, adults between 18 and 64 years of age drink around twelve liters of pure alcohol per year. In terms of health, however, only a quarter of the amount is acceptable. Alcohol is often used to compensate for stress, grief and worries, especially in professional life. However, because regular consumption is also socially recognized, addiction is usually treated far too late. According to the Association of Addictions, it takes around twelve years before an addiction is treated .. "A lot had gone wrong by then," said the Federal Government's Drugs Commissioner, Mechthild Dyckmans. Body and mind have been severely damaged in this long time. Therefore, relatives and parents should take a closer look and intervene before it is too late. A contribution from the clinic costs should not help here. Rather, it is important to rethink society. (fp)
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