A survey by With You has revealed the ‘huge impact’ of COVID-19 on alcohol consumption in Scotland, with 49 per cent of respondents saying the pandemic has led to them drinking more than usual.
The survey of almost 5,400 people also found that 30 per cent were consuming ten or more units ‘on a typical drinking day’, with the same proportion reporting using alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety. Researchers found that more than a quarter of respondents’ drinking fell into the increasing risk, higher risk or possible dependence categories, with a third reporting concerns about their drinking during lockdown. Almost a third of respondents said they were drinking more than four times a week, with a quarter also reporting that they were concerned about a loved one’s drinking.
While not representative of the whole population the size of the survey ‘provides a thorough snapshot’ of current drinking levels, says the charity, with respondents given a score based on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Almost 95 per cent of those who responded said they’d never accessed support for their drinking.
Although 2019 had seen a major year-on-year fall in alcohol-related deaths in Scotland, the pandemic has the potential to ‘undo this progress’, said With You’s director in Scotland Andrew Horne. ‘These are really tough times for everyone. Uncertainty and anxiety cloud our lives while the necessary restrictions to control the virus have left lots of people socially isolated. It’s no wonder many are drinking more as a way to cope. The number of people regularly drinking ten-plus units in a single session, often as a way of dealing with mental health issues, is concerning, as is the number of people judged to be at risk.’
‘As lockdown eases, it’s important people know that all our services are open and you don’t have to worry about placing extra strain on the NHS. A great start is talking anonymously to an advisor via our online webchat service at www.wearewithoyu.org.uk.’