Excessive drinking during COVID: a problem not a solution

Last updated: 28/06/2020

Excessive drinking during COVID: a problem not a solution

A recent Australian National University (ANU) survey found almost 20% of people drank more under lockdown than they usually did.

Almost one third of those people said they started drinking three to four more drinks per week and 26.4 per cent said they had upped their intake by more than five drinks per week.

IMPACT Community Services has programs that can help if you think that you might fall into this category.

In her work, Intensive Family Support (IFS) Manager Melissa Clarke encounters people who sometimes have a consistent abuse of substances, and it has only become worse during the COVID-19 restrictions.

IFS provides support to families who are experiencing multiple and complex issues to prevent the Department of Child Safety becoming involved.

“It's become very clear that there is an increased use of alcohol to cope with the extra pressure of living under lock-down,” Ms Clarke said.

Ms Clarke said there was a long checklist of reasons why people might reach for a bottle to alleviate the extra pressure of living under coronavirus restrictions.

“I've talked to a lot of fearful clients, who are not venturing out or leaving home for fear of kids contracting illness and kids with behavioural issues,” Ms Clarke said.

“And the kids being home often just stacks problems on top of problems.”

Ms Clarke said for those with a history of trauma or pre-existing mental health issues the problem was only exacerbated.

“Many reach for the bottle to cope because it's largely socially acceptable.”

“But for some, the problem becomes so great that it starts to affect the people around them,” Ms Clarke said.

“Children get neglected, food isn't making it onto tables – neglecting your responsibilities will be one of the signs you may be drinking too much.”

Other signs your drinking may be a problem could be an increase in aggression and violence.  Another big flag is that you seem to be building a tolerance to the amount you drink and it requires more to achieve the same result.

Ms Clarke said at IFS they looked at things holistically. “Not eating well, or exercising are signs of a life out of balance, and some treat alcohol as a way of filling some of these gaps,” she said.

“We encourage a more balanced approach, so we encourage people to walk, exercise, or get a free meditation app to help to ground themselves and help them to gain inner strength.”

And one of the most important measures one can take is to pick up phone and talk to people – friends and family.

A person needs honesty and the support of friends and family, but if the problem is advanced they need to see a professional. Be sure to reach out to your local drug and alcohol centre.

For those suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse, Ms Clarke's most important advice is to be honest with yourself, and reach out to those who can help.

For more about IMPACT's Intensive Family Support program go to https://www.impact.org.au/intensive-family-support-ifs

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