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A strong reminder of the damage alcohol is doing to individuals, families and communities.

Alcohol Awareness Week is a strong reminder of the damage alcohol is doing to individuals, families and communities.

Most worrying is the impact that alcohol is having on our children and young people - their lives and their futures.

Here in the North East we have the highest rate of under 18 alcohol-specific hospital admissions in England. In 2009/10 we had approximately 660 under 18s treated for alcohol dependency, 320 of whom were under 16.

As treatment providers we see this damage on a daily basis. It is upsetting, it is frustrating and something needs to be done before more young lives are ruined at the hands alcohol.

While undoubtedly more investment needs to be made in treatment services, prevention is equally important. Education is key, as is encouraging parents to speak to their children as early as the age of 8 about the risks of drinking early and drinking too much.

We also need to change the world our children grow up in. We currently live in a pro-alcohol culture and environment – change is needed if we are to set a good example to young people.

This is why we are backing a campaign, launched this week by Balance the North East Alcohol Office.

The campaign is calling on Government to ban alcohol advertising on TV, online and through sponsorship. It aims to prevent the alcohol industry from recruiting a new generation of drinkers.

Alcohol advertising plays a huge role in making drinking at an early age and consuming vast quantities acceptable and normal. The UK alcohol industry spends £800m each year on marketing to encourage consumption - we need to stop these adverts from reaching our children.

We would urge anyone reading to take a few minutes and sign Balance’s petition to protect our children from alcohol by going to This is a positive first step towards our goal of supporting young people and helping them make the right choices that will effectively shape their futures and the generations that follow.

David Messenger, Health Education Lead Advisor, Alcohol Education Service
Kevan Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Engagement into Recovery from Addiction Foundation

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