Number of underage drinkers seeking treatment trebles.

The number of underage drinkers seeking treatment for alcohol addiction rose from eight in 2000 to 24 in 2002 in the Southern Health Board region. According to a new report the figure has more than trebled in three years in Kerry and Cork. Figures for the Southern Health Board show the total number of people receiving treatment for alcohol abuse was more than twice that for all other drugs, illegal and legal combined.The report published by the drug misuse research division of the Health Research Board highlights the high level of alcohol addiction in the region. Alcohol treatment accounted for almost two thirds of all treatment cases in Kerry and Cork. 40% of those reporting alcohol miss use were treated previously. The report also noted an increase in the number of new female cases in the region.According to the report part of the overall increase was due to greater availability of services by the Southern Health Board. Nationally consumption of alcohol around the country rose by 46%, between 1989 and 2000, the largest increase in the EU. Alcohol related problems including crime, road accidents and lost productivity cost the country 2.4 billion in 1999.