Parents ‘twice as likely’ to be drinking more heavily since lockdown

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Parents are twice as likely to be drinking more often since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research by alcohol charity Balance.

Among people who drink, 38 per cent of those with children under 18 living at home said they were drinking more often compared to just 18 per cent of non-parents.

The survey of over 900 people also found that more than 30 per cent of parents were likely to be consuming more units on a typical drinking day compared to 17 per cent of non-parents. Parents were also more likely to admit to binge-drinking, with 44 per cent saying they did so at least monthly and 4 per cent on a daily ‘or almost daily’ basis. Almost half of the parents surveyed were increasing-risk or higher-risk drinkers, compared to 37 per cent of non-parents. 

The NSPCC has also revealed that the number of people getting in touch with concerns about drug or alcohol misuse among parents is up by 66 per cent since April 2020, at almost 1,200 contacts a month compared to 700 a month during January to March of last year. 

Balance director Colin Shevills
Balance director Colin Shevills

‘These are worrying figures which clearly show that families and parents with children at home are feeling the pressures,’ said Balance director Colin Shevills. ‘Parenting is stressful to begin with but add in home schooling, juggling work with childcare and worries about the pandemic and it is a perfect storm. We are seeing a pattern where many thousands in our region are now drinking in a way which could impact on health, impact on family and put them further down a road towards daily drinking and alcohol addiction.’

‘These findings from Balance are worrying. We know the effects of alcohol use in the family can go well beyond the direct effects on the person who is drinking,’ added Adfam chief executive Vivienne Evans. ‘Even when someone is not classed as dependent, children can find it worrying and unsettling if they see a parent binge drinking or drunk. Alcohol can lead to rows and family tension. Children also copy their parents and what they see at home might also shape their own behaviour around alcohol in the future.’