Bonn · The number of young people requiring hospital treatment for alcohol poisoning has fallen nationwide. This continues the trend of recent years. Despite this, Bonn ranks third in the state's alcohol abuse statistics.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, fewer children and young people were hospitalised for acute alcohol poisoning last year than in the previous year. According to the state statistics office IT.NRW, only 2,355 young people between the ages of ten and 19 were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related behavioural disorders in 2022 - 5.5 per cent fewer than in 2021. Is this trend also reflected in Bonn?
"The trend confirms the development of recent years, in which the number of adolescent intoxications requiring hospitalisation has fallen," says Dr Ulf Thiemann, Head Physician at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at the LVR Clinic in Bonn. According to Thiemann, this also fits in with the picture of falling figures for excessive alcohol consumption among young people: "Young people start drinking later, drink less often and also drink less intensively to the extent that they require treatment."
Shifts in the substances consumed
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a shift in the types of substances consumed. Cannabis and alcohol continue to play a significant role, while the consumption of other substances, such as benzodiazepines or opiates, has increased, explains Thiemann. However, there are regional differences in the proportion of alcohol and illegal substances consumed - which of course also has to do with the respective availability of the substances.
Thiemann is unable to explain why Bonn ranks third in the state's alcohol abuse statistics after Soest and the district of Coesfeld, despite falling figures overall. In general, however, the child and adolescent psychiatrist points out that the development of figures is also linked to other factors, such as the importance of enforcing youth protection at the location of the survey and the educational programmes available there.
The figures are also declining at the GFO clinics in Bonn. As Dr Stephan Buderus, Head Physician of the paediatric clinic at Marienhospital, reports, the number of alcohol poisonings among young people has fortunately fallen significantly during the pandemic and has even halved. "However, we record a few more cases on special public holidays," says Buderus, for example on 11 November.
The situation is similar at Bonn University Hospital. Nadia Saleh, Senior Physician and Medical Director of the Children's Emergency Centre at the UKB, confirms that the number of patients presenting with alcohol poisoning has fallen significantly over the past three years.
Link between mental disorders and alcohol consumption
While acute cases of alcohol poisoning are presented at the University Children's Hospital and the children's clinics on the Venusberg and in Sankt Augustin, the LVR Clinic's services focus on counselling and treating young people with problematic consumption or mental disorders related to alcohol consumption. Although the numbers are falling, Thiemann emphasises: "This is and remains a highly relevant topic, because young people are highly vulnerable to excessive alcohol consumption." This significantly increases the risk of accidents or - in the cold season - hypothermia. It also increases the risk of experiencing sexual offences. Young people in particular react sensitively to alcohol: "Sometimes even small amounts are enough to get them into an emergency situation." Prevention work must therefore be continued.