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Spike in alcohol harm under lock-down feared

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CONTROLS to counter the coronavirus could spark a spike in alcohol-related harm, it is feared.

Although UK pubs, clubs and restaurants have been forced to close, off-licences have been deemed ‘essential’ and business is brisk on booze aisles at supermarkets.

Home drinking has been on the increase in recent years fuelled by pub closures and cheap supermarket prices causing concern over consumption.

Now it’s feared the ban on social contact to contain Covid-19 will lead more people to adopt home-drinking habits.

Experts are concerned that a prolonged isolation could cause a rise in alcohol-related health issues that account for 1.3m hospital admissions a year in England alone.

James Morris

Writing for the Society for the Study of Addiction, James Morris, a researcher at the Centre for Addictive Behaviours at London South Bank University, says it is difficult to predict the long-term impact but he’s not optimistic.

He said: “The impact of alcohol only being available for home consumption is unlikely to yield many positives beyond certain retailer profit.

“Rises in domestic violence, fires and potentially alcohol dependence are logical predictions in the wake of the Covid 19 outbreak.”

Mr Morris, suggested home drinking could become habitual, or that newly liberated drinkers might go on a booze binge once the lock-down lifts.

“For some, home drinking may become more embedded, potentially exacerbated by the further closure of already struggling pubs and bars,” he said.

“For others, the period could highlight how valuable public and social drinking settings are, resulting in a boom in drinking out to celebrate the end of isolation.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Humphreys is co-founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and a journalist for more years than she cares to remember. Ex-wife of an alcoholic, enthusiastic amateur musician and a passionate dog lover.

Responses

  1. Denying recovering addicts the social connection and the access to work and activities that are key to recovery, and spending massive amounts of time alone with your thoughts and not much else, are likely to be greater drivers of any spike in alcohol and other addictions than just drinking more at home during the lock-down. Though I accept Chris’s argument that the lock down may cause more people to take up home drinking (with some over doing it). The social isolation and too much time on your own are a real danger hidden in the lock down, especially for those of us living alone.

    1. Fair points doublezero, and the reason we launched this community now rather than later when we planned (which is why it is still a bit rough around the edge ) No forum, or even zoom chats – which we’ll be doing soon – can replace human contact but apart from those I’m not sure what the solution is. Social distancing and the lockdown are vital to curbing this virus (I know some disagree with that but I’m very much in the camp of this being a necessary evil – and I write from the perspective of someone living in Spain where we’ve been under lockdown longer than the UK – although at this stage I’m not sure the difference in length matters much – it’s bloody long fullstop for all of us!)