People across Bath and North East Somerset who have turned to alcohol as a way of coping with the coronavirus pandemic are being reassured support is available to address their excess drinking.
New figures estimate that the number of people across the country drinking at high-risk levels almost doubled during the first lockdown.
During Alcohol Awareness Week (Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd November) Bath & North East Somerset Council is helping to raise awareness of the link between excess drinking and our mental health and is encouraging people to seek support from local treatment services if they are struggling.
A poll by Alcohol Change UK, released earlier this year, showed that more than a quarter (28%) of people who have ever drunk alcohol thought they been drinking more during lockdown.
As lockdown eased over the summer, two in three (66%) expected to continue drinking as they had been during lockdown (49%), or even drink more (17%).
One in five (19%) of those surveyed said they had drunk alcohol as a way to handle stress or anxiety during lockdown. Of those who drank more heavily during lockdown (nine plus units on each drinking day), 40% had drunk as a response to stress or anxiety.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that in June, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8 million in February 2020.
Councillor Rob Appleyard, cabinet member for Adult Services and Public Health said: “It’s been an incredibly challenging year and many of us have used alcohol as a crutch, a way to help us cope with our worries, stress and anxiety, but too much alcohol can have a damaging effect on our physical and mental health.
“In the midst of a pandemic it’s more important than ever to look after our bodies and minds, so Alcohol Awareness Week is a great opportunity to talk about alcohol, how it affects our lives and those around us and to change our drinking habits.
“We have fantastic support services in Bath and North East Somerset, provided by DHI (Developing Health & Independence) and I’d urge anyone who wants reassess their relationship with alcohol and address their excess drinking to get in touch.”
DHI has treatment services in Bath and Midsomer Norton. For more information, click here.
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, added: “Many of us are under an unbelievable amount of stress due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re seeing that those of us who are drinking more heavily are at real risk of worsening our mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, along with many other health conditions, as we turn to alcohol to cope.
“The good news is that being in control of our drinking can improve our mental health, and there are plenty of techniques out there for taking control if your drinking has got a bit out of hand, including our free Try Dry app.”
Alcohol Awareness Week provides an important opportunity to:
- Talk about the issues around alcohol and mental health, helping us make more informed choices about our drinking.
- Tackle the stigma associated with drinking, which can be significantly worse for those struggling with mental health problems as well as drinking problems
- Call for action to help those most in need, including the 200,000 children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer
- Help those struggling to seek support
To take part in this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, visit the Alcohol Change UK website.