UNDERAGE drinking is something that has been and unfortunately will probably always be a problem in communities throughout the UK but it wasn’t until her own child was found drunk and unconscious in sub-zero temperatures that an Eyemouth mum was shocked into taking her concerns further.
Patricia Houliston experienced what she described in her own words as one of the most frightening nights of her life when she received a call to say her 15-year-old son had been rushed to hospital after he was discovered lying close to the old Eyemouth High School on Coldingham Road.
And having admitted to ‘The Berwickshire’ she felt ashamed of herself for not doing more to try and tackle the drinking culture indulged in by some of the town’s teenagers until it impacted on her family, Patricia has taken her grave concerns to Eyemouth Town Council and community police officer PC Kirsty Nash.
Acutely aware that under-age drinking is problem in Berwickshire, the police will have a strong presence at senior dances at both Eyemouth and Berwickshire High next week.
Officers will be using alcohol dip strips, widely used for testing soft drinks and hand-held breathalysers in an effort to stop the consumption of alcohol at the events.
And PC Nash said the most worrying trend about the current binge drinking culture amongst youngsters was the fact it’s children from good homes with supportive families who are being sucked in more and more.
“The youngsters who are coming to our attention aren’t necessarily bad kids but for one reason or another they’re making bad decisions,” she commented.
“Peer pressure has a lot to do with it I’m sure. They are scared they’ll be ostracised by their friends if they don’t have a drink. They’re not mature enough to know when they’ve had enough and don’t realise the serious health implications of their behaviour.”
Over the past few years police in Berwickshire have been successful in stamping out the sale of alcohol to minors in licensed premises and off licences but PC Nash said it was much harder to police youngsters when they’re at home.
“When myself and our locality officer PC Jamie Stewart go into schools to give talks on alcohol awareness the youngsters are generaly very receptive so it’s frustrating to find out some of them have been round the back of a derelict building on a Friday night pouring loads of booze down their necks.
“Unfortunately there is no quick-fire solution to the problem we can’t go into people’s houses and tell them what to do.
“Neither are we asking parents to police their kids 24/7, just asking them to be more aware of what they’re up to.
“My son can’t tell me why he did what he did,” Patricia added.
“He only knew something was wrong when he woke up in hospital attached to a drip. I’m ashamed of myself because I knew from what he said that there was underage drinking going on in the town but until it landed at my door I didn’t do anything about it.
“My son had a massive fright as did we all. I’m just grateful we still have him; things could have turned out very differently.
“I’m not trying to preach to anyone but I don’t want there to be a death for the community to sit up and takes notice.”
Any parents who suspect their child may need support in relation to misuse of alcohol can contact face2face at email@example.com or (01896) 668811.