We're drinking more to cope with lockdown, survey finds

More than half of Irish adults are now drinking every week, with 25% drinking more during the Covid-19 crisis, a new study has found.
We're drinking more to cope with lockdown, survey finds

More than half of Irish adults are now drinking every week, with 25% drinking more during the Covid-19 crisis, a new study has found.

A large majority (88%) said that they drank at this time 'to help relax and unwind’ as almost half (47%) of survey respondents said that tensions in their household had increased in the past 30 days.

However, the study also found that as many respondents who reported a rise in alcohol consumption also reported drinking less since the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions.

One-in-four said they now drink less and 31% reported making positive changes to their drinking habits during lockdown.

The survey carried out by Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, has published findings from new research on behaviours, attitudes and motivations driving alcohol consumption among adults in Ireland since the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions.

The study, which focused on the 30-day period until 24th April 2020, found:

  • 52% of adults are now drinking alcohol on a weekly basis compared to 44% of adults surveyed last year.
  • those who drink are also drinking more, 14% of adults reported drinking four or more times each week in the past 30 days
  • a further 24% consuming alcohol between two and three times a week.
  • one in five (19%) said they had noticed an increase in consumption among other adults in their household

This nationally representative research, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of Drinkaware, is the first to look in-depth at drinking behaviours and attitudes since government restrictions were implemented.

Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, said the research shows how the new norm is changing drinking habits and attitudes.?

"For some it’s a time to reflect and to change their alcohol consumption.? For others alcohol is a coping and stress relief at a difficult time.

"The use of alcohol to relax or unwind is not new but it is concerning, and at 88% almost universal.

"As we enter the first phase of easing restrictions, we need to renew our efforts to explore alternative and healthier coping strategies that don’t involve consistent and potentially harmful drinking."

The Drinkaware website had almost 90,000 visits in April alone, which shows that people are concerned about their drinking habits at home during isolation and proactively seeking information and tools to help, Ms Horgan said.?

"There is clearly an appetite for and willingness to change among Irish adults, with almost one-third having already made positive changes to cut down or cut out alcohol over the past month.

"So, the more troubling evidence that includes more frequent drinking (4+ times every week), sits alongside positive findings regarding attitude and behaviour change.

"The real value of this new research is that it allows us to dig deeper to understand what is driving this increase, and also the positive shifts in behaviour where some are choosing to drink less."

John O’Mahony, Behaviour & Attitudes Director, said that gathering data on alcohol consumption is now crucial so that we can learn from the impact disruptive events like a global pandemic can have on public attitudes and behaviour.

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