Wild Boozing Teens on Rampage in U.K.

Health officials describe Britain's booze culture as "a time bomb."

ByABC News
May 22, 2008, 9:40 AM

LONDON May 22, 2008— -- A British government report on the consumption of alcohol is the latest study to raise alarm over what experts depict as a nation with a serious drinking problem that is getting worse because of the availability of cheap beer and the acceptance of teenage boozing.

According to a National Health Service (NHS) report released today, hospital admissions linked to alcohol have increased by 50 percent since 1995.

Prescriptions for treating addiction to alcohol have jumped by 20 percent in the past four years, according to the NHS.

The NHS report comes on the heels of a study by the U.K.'s Home Office that worried over statistics that indicated that the next generation of Brits will be even heavier drinkers.

The study said kids were starting to drink at a younger age and were drinking more than the previous generation. The Home Office study found that by the age of 13, most youngsters have already drunk alcohol. Some of them even drink at school or in other public places.

A government crackdown in 24 towns during the fall of 2007 grabbed the equivalent of 6,500 pints of alcohol from minors within only four weeks.

"It is time to send the message that it is no longer acceptable for children to drink in public places," U.K. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told reporters. "Their alcohol will be confiscated."

Brian Hayes who works as a paramedic at the London Ambulance Service said that he and his colleagues are often called to pick up drunk teenagers.

"We have got a particular problem with youngsters who have never been out before," Hayes told ABC News. "They drink too much and are left behind."

This problem affects even the highest ranks of the British society. In 2000, Prime Minister Tony Blair's son, who was 16 at the time, was found alone drunk in London's West End, apparently abandoned by his friends.

According to Hayes, whose team picks up around 125 drunk people in London every night, the habit of binge drinking is deeply rooted into the British way of life.

"It seems to be a culture in this country that it's fashionable to get drunk," Hayes said. "There's quite a bit a bravado about it."