Alcohol issues among Northumberland’s young people

The trend for under 18s' alcohol-related hospital admissions is downward.
The trend for under 18s' alcohol-related hospital admissions is downward.

Nearly 80 pupils have been excluded from Northumberland schools for drug and alcohol incidents since the start of the 2013/14 academic year.

The information forms part of a report to this month’s Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board on alcohol misuse among the county’s under 18s, which begins by emphasising the fact that ‘the majority of young people in Northumberland do not drink alcohol’.

It follows a report to the health and wellbeing board in December on the impact of alcohol consumption on Northumberland’s population which sparked a request for information specifically relating to young people.

In terms of the school exclusions, around 40 per cent of the 77 since September 2013 were specifically alcohol-related and for those cases where the substance was not specified, it is estimated that, in the majority of cases, alcohol has been a factor.

In the current academic year, there has been a decline in reports of exclusions, potentially due to the provision of training for parent and school staff.

According to the report, colleagues from Sorted, which provides specialist substance misuse support for under 18s, and the education service ‘are currently launching a new exclusion pathway, which has involved meeting with senior managers in all schools to ensure full co-operation, raise awareness of the pathway and the support that is available when a drug or alcohol exclusion occurs. Responses from schools so far have been very positive’.

The report also contains information about people accessing the services with Sorted.

In 2014/15, 136 young people in Northumberland accessed the service citing problematic alcohol use, of whom the majority (51 per cent) were 16 or 17. Another 40 per cent were 14 or 15 and nine per cent were 13 and under.

The report is clear that many young people receiving specialist support have a range of vulnerabilities with the most frequently observed being self-harm, offending or anti-social behaviour, mental-health problems and being affected by others’ substance misuse.