From statistics showing the growth in the purchase, sale and consumption of alcohol to dismay among the public with talks of potential alcohol restrictions this lockdown, are we throwing a blind eye over a greater problem within our society?
The second national lockdown is well underway and it’s an opportunity to reflect on our alcohol habits – old and new. Drinkaware published a report in May of this year highlighting that over a quarter of Irish people drank more during lockdown. This may be a rather attractive figure in comparison to the 50% increase of alcohol consumption reported in a study conducted by The Journal and the Global Drug Survey.
Equally worrying were statistics published by Nielson in the Irish Times in April showing a 40% increase in the purchase of alcohol by Irish consumers. It’s clear that lockdown changed our relationship with alcohol- with headlines over the last few months reading “I was hammered for the first month of lockdown” and “I became alcoholic during lockdown”. However, despite media reports, I don’t have to look any further than myself to realise that I reflect some of the reported statistics.
Whether it was boozy binge drinking with the sister whilst Leo made his speech in the background, or a casual Chardonnay with dinner, and sometimes lunch, I can definitely say that I drank more and more frequently during lockdown.
Before lockdown, alcohol was mainly confined to social events – binge drinking was reserved for college nights out during the weekend. Now, it has become more of a quotidian event. In the current context, everyone should be aware of and examine their behaviours with alcohol.
Recently, politicians are calling for stricter restrictions on the purchase of alcohol including reduced off-license hours and purchase limits. Aside from having social implications which pose a threat to our progress against the fight of Covid-19, Drinkaware CEO, Sheena Horgan, added “Alcohol doesn’t have to be part of the weekly shop and don’t stock up on it. By having alcohol in the house, by having it easily available to you, it’s feeding into these habits and triggers”.
These government suggestions published online were generally not well-received by the public; with social media comments on the topic of the nature of “Whose business is it what’s in the next man or woman’s trolley?!” and “This isn’t even about a virus anymore it’s about control”.
But what do these reactions say about our society? Moreover, what does people sitting in the cold on makeshift outdoor seating, drinking Guinness mixed with rainwater whilst they savour a substantially dissatisfying meal say about our relationships with alcohol? Are we that dependent and or willing to do anything for drinks?
We’re not the only country facing the issue – this week in South Africa, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala warned of imminent action regarding recent “reckless trading in alcohol,” whilst Scotland on Friday encountered new, highly restricted regulations regarding the sale, purchase and consumption of alcohol.
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month and thus Drinkaware is calling for women to recognise the consequences of the over-consumption of alcohol in increasing chances of developing breast cancer. They recently recommended: “Have at least two alcohol-free days in the week. Don’t binge (6+ standard drinks in one sitting) as the liver can only process one standard drink per hour.”
Eve Moore- Reporter
If any of the information in this article has affected you, there are a number of support services available, should you need them.
Gov.ie In This Together campaign
Advice, tips and activities on how you can look after your mental wellbeing, stay active and stay connected.
Alone operates a COVID-19 support line for those living alone
Call 0818 222 024 (8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday)
Irish Cancer Society
Phone and online support for anyone undergoing cancer treatment and is concerned about Covid-19
Cancer Nurseline 1800 200 700 (9am to 8pm, Mon to Thurs, 9am to 5pm, Fri to Sun)
Online enquiry form
Information and support to anyone over 18 about issues relating to their own mood or the mood of a friend or family member, or who experiences depression or bipolar.
Freephone Support Line 1800 80 48 48 (from 10am to 10pm every day)
Phone and text-based support counselling for people who are suicidal or engaging in self-harm
Freephone 1800 247 247 (any time, day or night)
Text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
Ireland’s youth information website created by young people, for young people.
Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280