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19th May 2020

Study shows more people are drinking during lockdown to deal with the stress

Anna Daly


Is this you?

Lockdown ain’t easy. People are feeling cooped up, irritated by their housemates, and just generally stressed about the state of the world.

People are dealing with their stress in different ways but a study by Drinkaware shows that one significant way that people are handling their stress is by drinking more.

According to the study, one in four adults is drinking more since the Covid-19 outbreak. 14 percent report drinking four or more times every week and the main reason given for that – at 88 percent – is to help them to relax and unwind.

47 percent of households in Ireland report increased tensions in their house, so those feelings of stress, anxiety, and irritation are all alive and strong. But it’s important to find a healthy way to deal with those feelings.

Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine every once in a while, but if you find yourself drinking more than you usually would or using that drink as a way to deal with negative emotions such as stress or irritation, it’s worth trying to find an alternative stress-coping mechanism.

Recently, our very own Cassie Stokes talked to Kate Bee, founder of the Sober School, to discuss attitudes towards alcohol in Ireland and look at some good ways to cut down on our alcohol consumption and to make sure we’re not relying on it for fun or to fix our negative thoughts.

Make yourself confront your relationship with alcohol – do you rely on it? Do you think you have a healthy attitude towards it? Maybe you do, and that’s great, but maybe you, like others, have found yourself turning to it more than usual over the last few weeks.

Drinking more during lockdown is not inevitable – in fact, the Drinkaware study shows that 31 percent of people report making positive changes to their drinking during lockdown. Really, it’s the perfect time to find other ways to spend your time, to discover new hobbies and new things that make you happy.

Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, commented:

“This new research shows how the new norm is changing Irish drinking habits and attitudes.  For some, it’s a time to reflect and to change their alcohol consumption.  For others, alcohol is a coping and stress relief at a difficult time. The use of alcohol to relax or unwind is not new but it is concerning, and at 88% almost universal. As we enter the first phase of easing restrictions, we need to renew our efforts to explore alternative and healthier coping strategies that don’t involve consistent and potentially harmful drinking.

That said, there is clearly an appetite for and willingness to change among Irish adults, with almost one-third having already made positive changes to cut down or cut out alcohol over the past month. We can see in real-time from the Drinkaware website which had almost 90,000 visits in April alone, that people are equally concerned about their drinking habits at home during isolation and proactively seeking information and tools to help.  So, the more troubling evidence that includes more frequent drinking (4+ times every week), sits alongside positive findings regarding attitude and behaviour change.”

So, next time you reach for that drink, ask yourself: “Would I be having this if I wasn’t in lockdown?”

For more information or for help on cutting down your alcohol consumption, visit the Drinkaware website