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Did People Drink More Alcohol Due To COVID-19?

Posted on September 6, 2022

Did People Drink More Alcohol Due To COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed our lives, habits, routines, and coping mechanisms.

Many researchers have been eager to see how our drinking habits have changed as a result of the pandemic and if, in fact, people are consuming more alcohol.

If you feel you are struggling with alcohol and are unsure if your consumption is healthy, we recommend reaching out to our team for a free, zero-obligation phone call.

Together, we can discuss your options for treatment or the various ways you can reduce your drinking.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0800 088 66 86.

Why do we reach for alcohol during difficult times?

Man sitting on sofa drinking

Alcohol, for many people, is a coping mechanism. It can quickly become a crutch during times of difficulty.

In British culture, alcohol is often used as a celebratory tool. Consuming alcohol after a hard day at work or as a way to socialise is often encouraged and seen as the norm.

Coping mechanisms, like alcohol, are often outweighed by negative effects creating issues in relationships, health, and an overall dependency.

Many people use alcohol to cope with boredom, stress, grief, depression, trauma, and anxiety.

However, what starts as a controlled consumption can quickly spiral into dependency for some people.

Therefore, when faced with a global pandemic, it’s easy to see how many people struggle with alcohol-related issues.

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Alcohol is a depressant that alters chemicals in the brain. This means that it helps to block feelings of anxiety; however, this is only temporary, and the cycle will begin again.

Alcohol is then seen as a reward by the brain during times of stress and worry. This can lead to a routine of dependency.

Alcohol works to slow down the central nervous system, which is why users describe alcohol as creating relaxing feelings. However, it also reduces the ability to remember and leads to poor judgement.

Because of this, alcohol can quickly become a way to distance oneself from problems going on in the world and your own life.

Avoiding these issues essentially creates further problems in the future and can lead to a severe dependence on alcohol.

Therefore, it is easy to see why so many people reach for alcohol, especially during anxious and uncertain times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, the way we socialise, and the way we live.

Moving to a home-working and being unable to visit people places a massive strain on how we typically live.

In-person meetings and meetups with friends have been replaced by video calls which can be very isolating for those who depend on that daily human interaction.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0800 088 66 86.

What does the research suggest?

Bottles in a window

Since the pandemic began, there has been a lot of research into alcohol and its increasing consumption by people around the globe.

A survey conducted by a UK-based organisation has shown that around one in five drinkers have increased their alcohol consumption and began drinking more frequently since the pandemic started. [1]

This means that if people begin drinking at worrying levels, they face future problems in almost every aspect of their life.

Alcohol also significantly affects an individual’s mental health, which is very dangerous during a global pandemic.

The survey also found that one in 14 people admitted that alcohol increased the tension in their homes during lockdowns.

This equates to around 3.5 million adults living in households where alcohol creates issues.

This is a very worrying statistic and shows the effect alcohol can have on families, creating further problems in an already anxiety-inducing time.

A UK government study published very recently also showed that in 2020, there was an increase in alcohol-related deaths such as:

  • A 20% rise in total alcohol-specific deaths
  • A 20.8% rise in alcoholic liver deaths
  • A 10.8% rise in deaths from mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol
  • And a 15.4% rise in deaths from alcohol poisoning [2]

These rates started to increase from May 2020, shortly after the first lockdown began.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0800 088 66 86.

What can we do to change this?

Woman in the bath reading a book

The best way to stop alcohol use from increasing is to adopt healthier coping mechanisms. [3]

Whilst alcohol can feel like a great crutch at the time, it can result in extreme damage to your physical and mental health and your personal and working relationships.

Instead of reaching for a drink at a time when you feel upset, stressed, or anxious, why not try the following?

Emotion-focused coping mechanisms:

  • Exercise. This doesn’t have to be an intense workout; even practising yoga or breathing exercises can help regulate your heartbeat.
  • Take a bath. Taking a soak can help to stimulate your nervous system whilst relaxing your muscles.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Talking down to yourself or speaking to yourself negatively can impact the relationship you have with yourself and destroy your self-esteem.

Begin mindfulness or mediation:

  • These are both easily accessible nowadays with free apps, videos, and books to help you find a healthy headspace.

Reach out for help:

  • If you are struggling with alcohol consumption, reach out for professional help. At Rehab Recovery, we can help source inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and home detoxes for you.

Set healthy boundaries:

  • If you have friends or co-workers who are encouraging you to engage in unhealthy habits such as excessive or binge drinking, begin to put your boundaries in place. Explain why you no longer want to drink and how it makes you feel.

Create a routine:

  • Whether you write it down or compartmentalise it, creating a healthy life routine can help you avoid partaking in unhealthy activities.

It is said that it takes up to 6 weeks for a habit to form, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t immediately find any of the above easy to pick up.

Sticking with a new hobby or healthy coping mechanism will help you in future times of difficulty.

If you are struggling with alcohol consumption and would like help from a friendly team of professionals, call Rehab Recovery today on 0800 088 66 86.


[1] Drinking during the lockdown: headline findings

[2] Monitoring alcohol consumption and harm during the COVID-19 pandemic

[3] Coping Mechanisms


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