Increasing alcohol abuse among young people

An analysis of medical records has shown that alcohol abuse among young people has increased rapidly. In addition, there was a significant increase in mental disorders in young people under the age of 21.
Adolescents are increasingly suffering from alcohol addiction and mental disorders. The KKH alliance, in collaboration with the Hannover Medical School (MHH), analyzed 200,000 medical records for adolescents and young adults and has encountered a worrying trend: alcohol abuse and the number of mental illnesses have increased significantly among young people under the age of 21.

Alcohol abuse and mental disorders are increasing
The health insurance company KKH-Allianz has developed the current white paper on the health of adolescents and young adults in cooperation with the MHH. For this, the experts evaluated the medical history of 200,000 people between the ages of 12 and 21. The result is startling, as the researchers found that adolescents are suffering from mental disorders more and more and that alcohol abuse has increased dramatically.

Every sixth being treated for mental health problems
According to the study, more than one in six adolescents can be treated at least once a year for depression, stress, anxiety disorders or other mental disorders. This is an expression of the fact that an increasing number of young people no longer seem to be able to cope with the constantly increasing stress of everyday life. Previous studies have found that severe emotional and behavioral disorders are more common among adolescents than common physical problems such as asthma or diabetes. For example, the KiGGS study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) on the health of children and adolescents in Germany
from 2008 found that around 15 percent of German children and adolescents have an “increased risk of psychological abnormalities.” According to national and international studies, around one fifth of children and adolescents worldwide are considered to be “mentally abnormal”.

Alcohol cases increased by 166 percent
According to the statements of the KKH White Paper, the development of alcohol abuse among young people is even more worrying. Between 2000 and 2008 this increased by 166 percent in the cases examined. The cases of alcohol tripled in adolescents between the ages of 17 and 21 years.

In terms of federal states, Bremen has had the most admissions to alcohol abuse clinics, and the fewest in Hamburg. "The trend continues unabated in 2009," said the researchers' opinion on the current results compared to "FOCUS". Experts believe that the number of adolescents who have to be hospitalized for alcohol abuse has at least doubled in Germany since 1990. In particular, so-called intoxication has become increasingly popular among young people in recent years, with the average age of first consumption being around 14 years.

Since the organism of adolescents is not yet fully grown and alcohol can therefore have a far more fatal effect on health than that of adults, there is an urgent need for action not only according to the White Paper of the KKH. Education and prevention must be given an even higher priority so that the foundation for lifelong alcohol addiction is not laid at a young age. (sb, Nov 6, 2010)

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Image: Paul-Georg Meister /

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