Problem drinking is soaring the UK under lockdown, say addiction experts.
Problem drinkers are consuming far more alcohol than usual because they are so stressed at being isolated and deprived of support under the lockdown, say doctors. Yet they are struggling to get help because the NHS is so busy dealing with patients with Covid-19, and because specialist treatment services for addicts have been cut.
“Alcohol services across the UK are seeing that some of their clients are drinking much more and becoming even more chaotic in their lifestyles,” said Dr Emily Finch, an NHS addiction psychiatrist and the vice-chair of the addictions faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Online support groups for alcoholics on the rise during lockdown
Upset at no longer being able to see relatives and friends, people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are drinking even larger quantities of cheap alcohol, such as white cider, strong lager and wine, than they consumed in pre-Covid times, she added. Plunging into such dangerous habit’s risks damaging both their physical and mental health.
Doctors fear that people could be drinking so much alcohol during the coronavirus lockdown that a ‘second health crisis’ is on the way.
There are an estimated 587,000 dependent drinkers in England.
Scientists at the University of Portsmouth have launched a study to understand how many people are turning to alcohol to handle the stress, anxiety, and boredom of being isolated at home. The research comes after data suggested that sales of alcohol have increased by 291% during the pandemic.
Eight tips to help you cut your drinking during lockdown
1. Go for smaller sizes
Instead of having a large glass of wine, have a small glass instead.
2. Consider different drink options
Opt to have a non-alcoholic, or low-alcohol drink. You can also stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water, juices, and smoothies.
3. Speak to friends, families, or someone that you trust
Let your friends and family know (via telephone or other means of communication if they do not live with you) that you are trying to reduce your alcohol consumption, so that they can support you.
4. Be mindful when drinking
Sip a drink slowly so it lasts longer. Also, consider the reasons why you are drinking. If it is related to stress, worry and anxiety then it is important you seek support from friends and families or from alcohol support services.
5. Reduce intake of snacks high in salt
Snacks high in salt like crisps and salted nuts can make you feel thirstier and you may feel like having an alcoholic beverage. Instead, opt to have foods that have high-water content like fruits (watermelon, melon, strawberries, and blueberries) and soups, juices, and smoothies
6. Change your environment
Consider getting rid of alcoholic drinks in your house so that it is out of sight, or buy less of it so that you can consume less.
7. Do something else
Consider fun and healthier ways to get yourself active and busy so that you are not thinking about alcohol. This may be going for a jog, workout indoors, dance around the house or choose a new hobby.
8. Challenge yourself
To take a break from regularly drinking alcohol. Challenge yourself to have at least two or three alcohol-free days each week.
I am a trained addiction therapist with over 20 years’ experience working with individuals and families who have been affected by addictions.
Call me for a 10-minute free consultation at JDJ Counselling on: 07541 872 474 to talk over any concerns that you may have regarding this blog.