Published Wed, 2010-10-20 14:03; updated 35 weeks ago.
Is alcohol damaging childhood?
That is the big question being asked during this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week which is taking the theme of alcohol and childhood.
This theme encompasses the issue of alcohol use by young people, the impact on young people of parental drinking, and the influence of alcohol marketing on young people.
The annual week of action, promoted by Alcohol Concern which is the lead organisation for England and Wales, provides an opportunity to raise awareness of all alcohol misuse issues and to highlight gaps in alcohol policy, as well as to promote the work of alcohol treatment service providers.
Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from October 18-24, comes on the back of recent reports into the dangers of drinking too much.
The latest Local Profiles for England (LAPE) figures published by the North West Public Health Observatory show that alcohol-specific deaths in the West Midlands are significantly worse than the national average.
The ratio of male deaths per 100,000 population during 2006-08 stood at 16.77 in the West Midlands compared to 13.12 for England.
By local authority, it ranged from 8.62 per 100,000 deaths in Solihull to 32.21 in Wolverhampton, with 21.88 per 100,000 in Birmingham.
This followed a doubling in the rate of alcohol-related deaths in males across the West Midlands between 1993 and 2004, the third highest rate in England, with the biggest rise in men between the ages of 35-54.
And the same is true for alcohol-related hospital admissions, with the number of people admitted in the West Midlands with conditions such as chronic liver disease more than doubling in six years, from 46,610 in 2002-03 to 104,533 in 2008-09.
Deryn Bishop, West Midlands regional alcohol manager, said although the rate of alcohol-related admissions was rising slightly less steeply than other English regions, "substantial" numbers of people are still drinking above recommended limits.
And she added that alcohol-related liver disease was increasing, and being seen in younger people than before.
Alcohol Concern said national awareness week will focus on lobbying activities around three key issues – minimising harm where a young person attends A & E due to drinking; reducing the risk to children by training social workers and teachers to understand issues of alcohol; and protect children from alcohol marketing by introducing greater restrictions for all alcohol marketing on TV, radio, cinema etc.