During the pandemic years there were hardly any parties, clubs were closed and large celebrations were postponed. This had a positive impact on alcohol consumption among young people: the number of hospital treatments for the effects of intoxication fell to its lowest level since 2001. How has the situation developed since there have been more opportunities to drink again? The Federal Statistical Office will publish the latest figures this Friday.
In 2021, according to information from January this year, around 11,700 children and young people between the ages of 10 and 19 were treated as inpatients in hospital for acute alcohol abuse. That was 4.4 percent less than in 2020 and 42 percent less than in the pre-Corona year 2019. The number of cases was therefore lower than ever since 2001.
Despite the falling number of cases, the risk of alcohol poisoning is particularly high among young people, as shown by per capita figures for various age groups. There were 15 to 19 year olds in 2021,247 cases per 100,000 inhabitants - in the 50 to 54 age group there were only 110 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Motto “Know your limit”
The proportion of non-drinkers is also growing. In a study by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), only 57.5 percent of 12 to 17 year olds said that they had drunk alcohol at least once in their lives. 20 years ago it was 87 percent. Under the motto “Know your limit”, the BzGA provides extensive information about the consequences of alcohol consumption.
According to the BZgA, young people react more sensitively to alcohol than adults. This is mainly because organs and especially the brain are still developing. “At least until the age of 21, important restructuring processes take place in the brain that can be disrupted by alcohol,” says the BZgA. "During this time, alcohol, even in small quantities, can cause considerable damage. Therefore, any alcohol consumption is particularly unhealthy in this age group."
The German Center for Addiction Issues (DHS) warns: "Alcohol causes harm with every sip. It is a cell poison." When presenting the “Addiction Yearbook 2023,” DHS managing director Christina Rummel called for political measures in addition to prevention campaigns, for example in schools. “This is mainly about three points: raising alcohol prices, restricting the current 24/7 availability and regulating alcohol advertising,” said Rummel.