As the UK once again experiences lockdown measures being implemented, and with it appearing to be quite a while before these stay-at-home orders are reversed, a lot of people’s mental health has been negatively impacted of late.
Not being able to socialise, see friends and/or loved ones, or engage in physical activities and outdoor hobbies took a huge toll on people’s mental health in 2020, and it appears that, sadly, 2021 will not prove much different for a lot of people.
And, as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic sees the UK, and certain other parts of the world, return to national lockdown, this also means that a lot of people have been turning to binge drinking as a coping mechanism to handle the daily stress of the current global situation.
In fact, a worrying study that was recently published in Frontiers In Psychiatry found that “just after stay-at-home orders were issued in Washington [an] estimated 14% of survey respondents said they drank more alcohol than the week prior and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety.”
However, while a lot of people have been using drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism, the Royal College Of Psychiatrists has warned that this could have damaging effects on many areas of your life.
In a statement, the college wrote on their website, “Drinking alcohol might seem like a way of relaxing or taking your mind off the constant stream of news about COVID-19. But if you drink more than 14 units a week, it can negatively affect your health and make you more at risk from the effects of COVID-19.”
Alcohol Consumption Can Actually Make You More Anxious And Depressed
Though a large portion of people will turn to binge drinking as a coping mechanism for the stresses of the world around them, there is strong evidence to show an increase in anxiety and depression after binge drinking.
The Drink Aware website warns, “Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with symptoms of depression, although it can be difficult to separate cause and effect. […] What we do know is that alcohol affects several nerve-chemical systems within our bodies which are important in regulating our mood.”
Furthermore, what helps to initiate and propagate the cycle of addiction is that when someone’s depression and/or anxiety is accentuated as a result of binge drinking, then that may use alcohol again as a coping mechanism for depression, only furthering the cycle of addiction.
Certain studies have also shown that people may be turning to binge drinking much quicker than the experts thought, which is a real source of concern.
The lead author of the study and a scientific operations manager at Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Ally Avery, explained, “We expected that down the road people might turn to alcohol after the stay-at-home orders were issued, but apparently it happened right off the bat.”
He also went on to claim that, “[This dangerous precedent] shows the need to make sure there is more mental health support since it had an impact on people right away.”
In a time where people are stuck in the house, worried about your own health and that of your loved ones, and when hours can seemingly drag out endlessly throughout the day, turning to a glass of wine, spirit, or beer can seem very appealing.
And, while it may feel like it is helping to calm you down, this daytime drink may start coming earlier and earlier, and the number of units you’re consuming can quickly begin to snowball.
Men And Women May Have Been Differently Affected By Binge Drinking In Lockdown
While we have all been feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in our everyday life, a study into daily lifestyle habits conducted in the UK during the lockdown in April of last year suggested that women, I particular older women, may be more at risk of developing unhealthy binge-drinking habits.
Julia Breslin, a spokesperson for one of the UK’s leading drug, alcohol and mental health charities, We Are With You, explained that “Often the extreme domestic pressures of the current time such as homeschooling children, adapting to new ways of working and falling household income can fall disproportionately on women’s shoulders.”
Ms Breslin then went on to explain that their extensive research showed that women aged 50 and over wreathe most likely to have fallen victim to repeated binge drinking.
While this is something that a lot of people should be very aware of at this time, this is not the only worrying statistic about alcohol consumption based upon gender that was uncovered during lockdown.
Even though women were shown to have more frequently given to binge drinking tendencies, a study of over 1000 people across the UK showed that men were more likely to consume higher, and more dangerous, amounts of alcohol in one sitting, as Sky News reported of the first UK lockdown.
And, while these statistics are useful for identifying specific dangers to watch out for dependent on factors such as your gender or age, the fact remains that a staggering amount of people across the UK have been drinking more due to lockdown, and this is something that we ALL need to be unified in our combatting of.
There Are Growing Concerns That The UK Is Facing An Increased Public Health Crisis Due To Drinking In The Second Lockdown
Drink Aware’s UK 2020 alcohol consumption statistics showed that “one in 10 [adult] drinkers – [equivalent to 4.6 million individuals] – drank more than their normal throughout the overall lockdown period.”
When reviewing these statistics just before Christmas 2020, Drink Aware’s chief executive stressed that “As a nation, we must wake up to the health impact of drinking so much alcohol. [It] is crucial that we do not sleepwalk into the winter months and ignore these lockdown lessons. Otherwise, the UK could face a huge wave of alcohol-related health issues.”
If you are concerned about your driving habits, then reach out to Addiction Advocates today and our dedicated staff may be able to offer advice about taking advantage of professional help available to you during the lockdown.