27 May 2020

Can lockdown drinking lead to alcohol addiction?

A woman drinking beer at home
The British are no strangers to heavy drinking. Be it office cocktails, a beer festival, or bottomless brunches, alcohol is as much a part of our culture as queueing and Sunday roasts. But as the days in lockdown drone on, you may feel a compulsion to reach for a drink more often than usual.

Whether you are a parent simultaneously juggling meetings and childcare, or you are on furlough and desperate for something to do, binge drinking can become a routine crutch to deal with stress, boredom and uncertainty.

According to the office for national statistics, off-licence alcohol sales have risen by 31.4% since the Coronavirus lockdown. So, you’re not alone if your drink intake has increased in the past few weeks. Social media has fashioned various drinking games and quizzes to create a feeling of solidarity, and off-licences were even added to the list of ‘essential retailers’ in March, allowing them to remain open during the lockdown. So unlike toilet paper and flour, alcohol is always fully stocked and ready for shoppers.

When can drinking become a problem?

Of course, getting tipsy occasionally to get through this strange time is no cause for concern. But if you find you are craving alcohol to make you feel at ease, you drink at the same time each day, or you have built up a tolerance and need more servings than usual to feel a buzz, you could be at risk of alcoholism. There are currently around 600,000 people in Britain who struggle with alcohol dependency, and it can be difficult to identify, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

two men drinking wine at dinner
If you are worried about alcohol abuse or recognise the start of cravings, then you should attempt to avoid settings involving alcohol and set yourself a limit for how much you are going to drink. Remember, the recommended number of servings is no more than 14 units per week.

The stress of social distancing and constantly remaining positive for each other can also take a toll on your mind, and you may want to sit with a drink to relax and keep the smile on your face. If you don’t have physical cravings for alcohol but you have developed an emotional or psychological need for it, such as to relieve your anxiety, or you don’t think you can do a task well without it, then this also counts as alcohol addiction. In this case, you would benefit from understanding more about addiction to decide what you want to do next.

When should I seek help?

Isolation gives us a great excuse to stay in pyjamas all day and skip hair washing days. But it also provides a dangerous seal behind which you can hide your alcoholism.

image of a woman drinking alcohol at her dark kitchen
If you attempt to tackle the urges but find yourself pouring another glass to satisfy your cravings, it’s a good idea to open up about your concerns to someone you trust so that they can help you through the process. Starting a conversation about alcoholism can be a daunting prospect, but nobody is judging you. Being brave enough to take control is a hard step to take, so if you don’t feel comfortable disclosing this to loved ones or you don’t have anyone to confide in, give us a call or use our live chat platform to get any thoughts off your chest and seek reliable advice.

We may have been told to stay in our homes for a few more weeks and continue social distancing, but if you want to tackle an addiction then there is no better time than now to seek help, ready for when things get back to normality.

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If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment program, we guarantee you'll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment.

Our patients’ health takes priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and our doors remain open. To read about our commitment to patient and staff safety and how to keep yourself safe during the lockdown, click here!