During lockdown, many people are missing their usual outlets for stress, boredom and frustration. It isn’t possible right now to visit the gym, meet friends at the cinema or go on holiday and relieve the tedium of daily life – making addictive outlets like alcohol and junk food much more difficult to resist.
According to new statistics shared by Alcohol Change UK, one in five people (21%) say they are drinking more during the pandemic, suggesting that around 8.6 million UK adults have increased their average alcohol intake in response to the stress of being stuck indoors.
Research shows that people tend to drink more during an economic crisis or major disaster. Alcohol is used as a way to destress and disengage from difficult realities, often without regard for the harmful psychological and physiological impact of drinking too much. In fact, when the lockdown was just setting in, alcohol sales leapt by 22%, topping £1.1bn in just four weeks in the UK.
If you find yourself drinking more often than normal during this period, it is important to understand what is considered an acceptable level of consumption, and what should be a cause for concern.
Signs That Indicate You May Be Developing An Alcohol Problem
Drinking To Cope Rather Than For Fun or Relaxation
If you feel your stress levels cannot be managed without alcohol, or if you are increasingly turning to alcohol to relieve feelings of frustration, loneliness, boredom or other negative emotions, you may be developing an unhealthy alcohol dependence that needs addressing.
Needing Alcohol To Help You Go To Sleep
Many heavy drinkers and borderline alcoholics experience a reliance on alcohol in order to help them relax enough to go to sleep. If you find yourself always reaching for a bottle of wine, beer or a bottle of spirits at the end of the evening, and an occasional nightcap has become a nightly occurrence, this is a sign of alcohol dependency.
Lack Of Motivation To Work, Do Chores Or Complete Daily Tasks
Those who suffer from alcohol reliance or alcoholism often experience a lack of motivation when facing chores, work or tasks to complete. If you find that a drink helps you to focus in on the task at hand, this is a sign that your body has become accustomed to associating alcohol with productivity and can lead to excessive consumption of significant quantities on a regular basis.
Are you feeling more anger or are you simply more irritable after consuming alcohol? This could be harmful not just for you but for your family or friends living with you, and you must consider reducing your alcohol consumption drastically or even stop it altogether.
Growing concern from friends and family
While it may be difficult at times for you to recognise that you may have a problem with alcohol if your loved ones are noticing changes in your behaviour due to alcohol or if it is beginning to affect your relationships adversely, it is a clear sign you need to cut down on your drinking.
Constructive Ways To Manage Alcohol Problem or Reliance
Track Your Alcohol Consumption Patterns
Start noting down the frequency and quantity of your alcohol intake. There are a number of apps like drinkware that help you to track your intake, identify patterns, and achieve measurable goals to moderate your drinking.
Try Not To Associate Drinking Alcohol With Lowering Your Stress Levels
Try not to think of alcohol as a method of controlling stress and anxiety levels. It is important that alcohol does not become your default coping mechanism every time you feel your stress levels rising. Try to find more healthful and positive outlets for negative emotions, such as exercising, cooking a healthy meal or spending time with loved ones.
Share Your Worries With Your Loved Ones
If you are beginning to wonder whether there is a reason to worry about your alcohol intake, do not keep your worries bottled up. Speak to friends and family. If you are staying alone, it can be all the more unnerving, so it is important to reach out to someone you feel comfortable with and discuss your worries.
Channel Your Energy Into Positive Action
Rather than turning to alcohol to help you manage stress or blow off steam, try channelling your energy into positive action with exercise, meditation, or other interesting tasks. When you find healthy, positive methods of distraction, your stress levels will reduce and your dependency on alcohol to cope will also reduce.
Speak to a mental health professional
If at any point you feel your alcohol consumption levels are reaching dangerous levels that could be affecting your physical and mental wellbeing, our specialist team of alcohol problem therapists, psychiatrists, and counsellors are here to help. Psymplicity provides affordable and accessible online therapy services that can help you manage your alcohol consumption levels during this difficult lockdown period.