Family and friends are main source of alcohol for under 18s

More than half of the 15 and 16 year olds in St Helens are drinking alcohol provided for them by an adult – while one in five are binge drinking (consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion).

The findings emerged from the latest survey carried out by St Helens Council’s Trading Standards Officers into the attitudes of young people towards alcohol and tobacco.

The survey, carried out every two years in partnership with local schools and Trading Standards North West (TSNW), also revealed that one in five 15 and 16 year olds smoke - with 39 per cent (an increase of six per cent on 2009) buying cigarettes from off-licences.

A total of 523 young people took part in the anonymous survey, which helps to shape policies towards young people and target resources to priority areas.

“These are worrying statistics,” said Councillor Alison Bacon. “Young people who drink to excess are more likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour, criminal activity or become a victim of crime themselves.

“Health officials tell us that young people under the age of 18 who drink are more likely to have a range of health problems, than those who don’t.

“The results of this very important survey are shared with our partners in the health sector, community safety and Merseyside Police, so we can all work closely together to tackle the serious problems which underage drinking and smoking cause in our communities and to the health of our young people.” 

According to the study, 61 per cent of 15 and 16 year olds claimed friends or family members over 18 were their key source of alcohol. Ten per cent bought alcohol themselves from shops, while three per cent said they bought it from supermarkets.

Young people concerned about their drinking can get help and advice from the Young Peoples Drug and Alcohol Team on 01744 675605.