DERRY’S teenagers are literally drinking themselves to death, a local charity worker has warned.
Connor McCafferty of Zest - Healing the Hurt said the city’s young people are sitting on a time bomb - and many will already have done irreparable damage to their bodies by the time they hit their early 20s.
“It’s fair to say that we will see increasing numbers of young people who will be terminally ill by the time they are 25. We are already seeing people in their mid 20s with cirrhosis of the liver or permanent brain damage due to alcohol misuse.
“Young people now drink to get drunk. Their livers are not mature, nor are their brains. They are literally poisoning themselves to death - loading their bodies with chemicals that their bodies cannot cope with.”
Mr McCafferty said alcohol also played a major factor in the city’s shocking self harm figures. “The most recent figures we have show that alcohol was a factor in 80% of self harm cases in Derry City.
“Young people tend to think of the buzz they get from drinking, but that’s only the first stage of intoxication. Alcohol is a depressant - if you are having a hard time it can be like releasing a pressure valve to drink - but in an uncontrolled and dangerous way.
“People always seem to remember the highs they get early in the night, but they forget the lows.
“In an uncontrolled setting people can turn to self harm or suicide attempts.
“Many of the people we see who have self harmed or who have attempted to take their own lives say they didn’t mean to do it. But alcohol causes you to lose control.”
More than 1200 people presented to hospital last year with self harm injuries - but Mr McCafferty said this is just the “tip of the iceberg”. Studies have shown that only 10-20% of people who self harm ever attend hospital for treatment.
“Derry is the self harm capital of Ireland - and alcohol misuse is a major factor,” he said.
Zest will be holding their annual ‘Walk for Hope’ tomorrow, leaving Sainsbury’s carpark at 11am. For more info or to take part call 71364175.