Under 14 ... and hitting the bottle!

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MORE work has to be done to tackle the scourge of under age drinking in Fife.

That was the strong message following the release of shock figures which show that Fife’s two main hospitals treated almost 300 youngsters for consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol over the past three years – a third of whom were aged 14 or under.

Statistics have shown that 288 youngsters were admitted to Victoria and Queen Margaret Hospitals between 2008 and 2010 where the main symptoms or complaint related to drinking too much alcohol.

Worrying figures

Describing the figures as “very worrying”, Kirkcaldy MSP Marilyn Livingstone (pictured) urged more action to reduce the problem.

“These figures will be of great concern to parents across Fife,” she said.

“The Scottish Government must commit to ensuring our young people know about the dangers of alcohol as a way of preventing further increases in the number of young people admitted to accident and emergency suffering from its affects.

“As well as affecting our young people’s health, under-age drinking can be a direct cause of antisocial behaviour in communities across Kirkcaldy.

“Those who provide young people with alcohol need to realise that what they are doing is not only breaking the law but also putting young people at risk. Both the Scottish Government and Fife Council need to make clear the message that supplying young people with alcohol is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

A spokesman for NHS Fife said: “Alcohol misuse is a major health challenge throughout the whole of Scotland and a partnership response is required to address this complex issue.

Support offered

“Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership provides advice and support on the development of services for addressing drug and alcohol misuse issues.

“By intervening at an earlier stage when problems are not too serious, more positive outcomes are likely. Young people who have misused alcohol are thus encouraged into community-based services at an early stage.

“Support is provided which is appropriate to their age group, with specialist services for young people differing from the needs of adults.”

Facilities for younger people, include Clued Up and DAPL which runs an under-18s counselling service. Work is also done in schools to raise alcohol awareness, and a mobile unit, run through The Zone, takes services to rural areas.