When the UK entered lockdown earlier this year and were encouraged to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, people were left with very little to do. This, alongside the closure of pubs and restaurants meant there was a sudden high demand for alcohol as people panic-bought and stocked up on alcoholic beverages.
Whilst sales of alcohol typically rise as the weather gets warmer, with 27% of Britons drinking more alcohol over the Summer months, there was a sharp increase in the number of people drinking alcohol as well as the frequency at which they were drinking it. According to a study conducted by BMJ, in the week of 21 March, alcohol sales were up by 67%.
Not only were people buying more alcohol, but over a study by Alcohol Change UK revealed that a quarter (28%) of people agreed that they had drunk more alcohol than usual during lockdown. In the same study they found that one-in-five of the respondents said they were drinking more frequently than they did before. In addition, PHE found that the number of people drinking at high-risk levels doubled to 8.5 million between February and September 2020.
Why Did We Consume More Alcohol During Lockdown?
Whilst the lockdown itself may not be the direct cause of people drinking more, there is a correlation between the two. Of course, other factors that could potentially contribute to the rise in figures and people drinking more may be financial worries, job loss, stress, illness and bereavement as a result of the virus and lockdown.
Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism against these negative feelings, having a drink at the end of a stressful day or using it to ‘numb the pain’. Unfortunately, in periods of high stress and unhappiness, the use of alcohol to cope becomes more frequent and individuals can eventually become dependent on the substance in order to function, otherwise known as an addiction.
Others may be more likely to use alcohol to fill the void that lockdown presents. Whereas people were once able to go to work, socialise with friends, go out in the evenings and at weekends and enjoy hobbies, they are no longer able to do these things, leaving them with more free time and nothing to do with it. For those who live alone, this time would have been even more difficult.
This is because humans are social creatures who rely on socialising to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing. Without their usual levels of social interactions, many people were left feeling isolated and alone which they tried to remedy by drinking. Similarly, some people use hobbies and exercise as a method of reducing stress and improving their mental health but without these methods available to them, they may resort to drinking instead.
For those already struggling with alcohol addiction, lockdown has proved to be an incredibly difficult time. Without their usual routine such as going to work or school, there was no routine in place for which they needed to remain sober. Bulk buying alcohol is also dangerous for those with an addiction as it offers a greater temptation to drink more when it is all in front of them.
Even those in the process of recovering from alcohol addiction have struggled during the lockdown period. Without the usual schedule that is enforced by rehab, those in recovery were left to their own (or limited) devices. Without attending regular support meetings, individuals may have been misled into a false sense of recovery. Unfortunately, this can sometimes make them believe that they are ok and “one drink won’t hurt” when in reality, one drink can cause a relapse and reverse weeks of progress.
Over lockdown, many rehabilitation centres saw a sharp increase in calls as people found themselves struggling to control their alcohol consumption. Here at Acquiesce, we received a great number of calls from people who were struggling with addiction, largely as a result of their mental health declining during lockdown. A percentage of these calls were from people who had been clean for many years but unfortunately relapsed and had to come back into treatment.
Support with Alcohol Addiction
At Acquiesce, we have continued to work to help people recover from alcohol addiction throughout the first lockdown and continued to do so in the second lockdown. Our treatment consists of 3 programmes: detox, rehab and dayhab. For those with an alcohol addiction, detox is the essential first step to recovery.
Rehab or Dayhab are the next steps in which we use a range of approaches such as psychological, physical, spiritual, social and holistic, focusing on the 12 Steps and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. We offer both residential rehab and dayhab as options for your recovery as we understand that you may have familial or work responsibilities during the day that you must attend to that prevent you from taking part in residential recovery.
If you think you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free, confidential consultation. For more help either give us a call on 01204 771940 or visit our advice centre here.