Drop in number of youths admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning
By Katrina Stokes, Health Reporter
June 15, 2015
AUSTRALIA – CAMPAIGNS against the so-called “coward punch” and the dangers of alcohol-fuelled violence have been credited with a sharp fall in the number of children being admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
Latest SA Health figures obtained by The Advertiser show 161 children were admitted to the Women’s and Children’s hospital last financial year, down from a high of 216 five years earlier.
Hospital admissions for adults has also fallen to their lowest in four years to 1980, according to the data.
Health authorities say publicity surrounding the tragedy of “coward punch” victims was hitting home with young people.
WCH nursing service director Monique Anninos said deaths and serious injuries had resonated with teenagers. “(It has) hit home a lot harder than just a pamphlet in the letterbox warning people of the dangers of alcohol,” she said.
“Some of these kids … involved in king hits, they’re young, sporting people that have their whole lives ahead of them (but) the consequence of being drunk and silly has ended in an innocent person’s death.”
She said the bulk of children admitted with alcohol-related issues were aged between 15 and 17 – and one as young as 12 – but having even one youngster in hospital for alcohol poisoning was concerning.
“Having 161 (children) is 161 too many,” she said. “They can present unconscious, and (some) have been found in the street or they have collapsed.
“They can come in, in a critical state that needs immediate resuscitation (plus) establishing a drip to rehydrate them.”
Sammy D Foundation co-founder Neil Davis, whose son Sam died after being coward-punched in 2008, is dedicated to educating young people about the dangers of alcohol-fuelled violence.
Since he and his wife Nat Cook launched the foundation in 2009, they have share their son’s tragic story with more than 50,000 children in 1200 schools, sporting and community clubs.
“There is no one else in South Australia talking to kids about what happened to their child on a night out,” Mr Davis said.
“People don’t believe it when you say it (but) I could be (speaking) in the poorest or richest suburb and we’ve never seen the kids be so quiet for so long.
“There’s often kids crying (because) I’m telling a true story of what happened to my son.”
Mr Davis said the message was simple: “take care of your mates … be aware of what alcohol and drugs can do your body … and you don’t have to drink to be cool”.
“That way you can have your friends for the rest of your life,” he said.
A police spokeswoman said alcohol-fuelled violence and binge drinking in public places was “one of the most pressing social challenges of our time”.
“Tackling this issue is not something that police can do alone,” she said.
“A change in culture and upholding acceptable standards of behaviour is needed. This is where the wider community must take action, and it starts at an individual level.”
A Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia spokeswoman said it was “pleasing” to see the number of hospital admissions for alcohol intoxication falling.
She said a range of strategies and changes to liquor licensing, including the state’s 3am lockout and restrictions to the availability of alcoholic shots, had reduced alcohol-related problems.
An SA Health spokeswoman said the State Government’s South Australian Alcohol and Other Drug Strategy aimed to reduce the rate of alcohol-related harm through regular social media campaigns and other initiatives.
Originally published as Finally, good news on kids and drinking