Real Life

22 August 2019

New figures show most teenage alcohol comes from the home

We all want the best for our kids – and a common myth among North East parents is that giving our kids a bit of alcohol helps them to handle it better when they’re older.

However, a new survey of pupils aged 11-15 gives some food for thought – and  suggests too many children are already seeing the ill effects of alcohol and risking their health.

The survey of kids aged 11-15 from NHS Digital [1] found:

  • One in five pupils (18%) thought it was OK to get drunk once a week.
  • 1 in 10 (9%) of pupils aged 11-15 had  been drunk in the previous week – equating to around 12,000 pupils in the North East.
  • 4/10 pupils who’d been drunk reported feeling ill or sick and over 1 in 5 had vomited.  There have been tragic reported cases where young people have died from choking on their own vomit.
  • More North East girls are drinking than boys, and girls are more likely than boys to be drinking wine and spirits which are stronger and carry added risks. Around 14% of North East girls aged 11-15 had drank alcohol in the previous week –  the joint highest rate in England.
  • Drinking alcohol is a risk factor in starting to smoke, and children from affluent families and where parents drink are more likely to drink.
  • 11% of pupils aged 11-15 had drank alcohol in the North East in the week before the survey – around 15,000 pupils

The survey found that pupils who obtained alcohol were most likely to have been given it by parents or guardians (71%), given it by friends or taken it from home with permission (48%).

What is clear is that thousands of children in the North East are getting drunk and too many are ending up in hospital, in A&E or with real problems in their lives because of alcohol. And with most of the alcohol coming from home, parents with the very best of intentions may be unknowingly helping to enable this.

We want the best start in life for our children and evidence is clear that the longer we can delay drinking alcohol in their lives, the better.


[1] The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2018 is a major nationwide survey monitoring smoking, drinking and drug use among secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15. Figures for 2018 were published in August 2019.

A new survey of pupils aged 11-15 suggests too many children are already seeing the ill effects of alcohol and risking their health.