Millions of people could be worried about the drinking habits of someone they know during the lockdown, a survey suggests.
Boredom, loneliness and anxiety are all major reasons why Brits have been hitting the bottle over the last two months, the study claims.
Research carried out by YouGov for the drug and alcohol charity We Are With You found 12 per cent of people surveyed – the equivalent to 6.3 million adults across the UK population – were either very or extremely concerned about the drinking habits of someone they know during the coronavirus restrictions.
Boredom, loneliness and anxiety are all major reasons why Brits have been hitting the bottle over the last two months, the study claims
When asked why they thought people may be drinking more alcohol during the lockdown, 80 per cent said boredom was to blame and more than half suggested loneliness or anxiety (both 53 per cent).
We Are With You’s research also found that 60 per cent of adults were less likely to seek help from their GP or other non-emergency services for all conditions during the current restrictions.
More than half (54 per cent) of those said they were concerned about putting extra strain on the NHS, with only 19 per cent saying their reluctance was because of a fear of catching Covid-19.
The figures have raised concerns about fewer people accessing alcohol treatment after public health experts expressed fears of an overall increase in drinking.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, previously warned the lockdown may have consequences for years to come, including in alcohol-related illnesses.
We Are With You is a drug, alcohol and mental health charity which offers support across the UK, either by a referral from a GP or through self-referral.
The figures have raised concerns about fewer people accessing alcohol treatment after public health experts expressed fears of an overall increase in drinking
The charity found that all alcohol referrals to their services have fallen by by 72 per cent during the lockdown, compared to January 2020.
Sammie, a volunteer for the charity who is now in recovery, said: ‘Alcohol made me feel confident and dulled my anxiety but once I started I struggled to stop, with serious consequences for myself and my family.
‘The current restrictions are tough for people like me who are in recovery.
‘Isolation, boredom and anxiety are big factors which lead to people drinking more. And without work or other obligations to keep people in check, some people may go into spirals of drinking like I used to.’
The charity has stressed their services are still available without the need to go to a GP for a referral.
Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England medical director for primary care, urged people to access support from their GPs and other primary care providers when they need it.
Speaking at Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference, she said: ‘I want to reassure people who are listening and watching today that your primary care services are still there for you.
‘It might feel a little bit different; you might have more telephone calls or online consultations.
‘You might see somebody dressed in PPE as I was yesterday in my surgery, but you must know that your NHS is still here for you, so please come and contact us if you need advice or support over the coming weeks and months.’
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