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North East schoolchildren have highest drinking rates in England

Newly published data from the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) reveal that the North East of England has the highest proportion of pupils who have ever drunk alcohol.

Combined figures for 2011 and 2012 produced in this year's Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England survey indicated that over half (51%) of pupils aged between 11 and 15 in the region have ever drunk alcohol. The North East also tops the table for the highest proportion of pupils who drank alcohol in the last week (14%).

The national picture shows an increase in the number of units of alcohol consumed by pupils who drink in 2012 compared with 2011. 11 to 15 year-olds who drank in the last week drank on average of 12.5 units (mean) in 2012, an increase of 2.1 units on the previous year, when an average of 10.4 units was consumed.

Other key findings include:

  • Half (50%) of pupils who had drunk alcohol in the last four weeks said that they had been drunk at least once during that time. Although 61% said that they had deliberately tried to get drunk, 39% said they had not.
  • 43% of pupils said that they had drunk alcohol at least once. Boys and girls were equally likely to have drunk alcohol. The proportion of pupils who had drunk alcohol increased with age from 12% of 11 year olds to 74% of 15 year olds.
  • 10% of pupils had drunk alcohol in the last week. Similar proportions of boys and girls had drunk alcohol in the last week. The proportion increased with age from 1% of 11 year olds to 25% of 15 year olds.
  • Under half of pupils who drank alcohol (44%) said they bought it. Pupils who had bought alcohol had usually done so from friends (53%), someone other than family or friends (34%), off-licences (32%) or shops or supermarkets (24%).
  • Pupils who drank alcohol were most likely to do so in their own home (54%), someone else’s home (48%), at parties with friends (47%), or somewhere outside (18%). Since 2006, there has been an increase in the proportion of pupils who usually drink at home or in other people’s homes or at parties with friends, and a reduction in the proportion drinking outside.

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England surveyed 7,590 pupils in 254 schools in the autumn term of 2012. You can access the report in full from the HSCIC website.