Over half of Irish people drinking to "cheer up", according to new report
“With all the uncertainty at the moment it can be hard to look to the future."
Over half of Irish people are drinking to "cheer up" while dealing with stress, a new report has shown.
Drinkaware has published a new booklet, Alcohol and Your Mental Health, to help people manage their alcohol consumption amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The publication includes statistics from a new report, that shows the use of alcohol as a coping mechanism has increased since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to figures from 2020's Alcohol & Covid-19 Barometer, 54% of people report drinking "to cheer up when in a bad mood or stressed" - a 12% increase compared to 2018.
34% of people also report drinking "because it helps when I feel depressed or anxious" versus 29% in 2018, an increase of 5%.
New questions also reveal the main motivations for alcohol use during Covid-19, the majority of which are linked to mental health and coping. 23% of people report drinking "because they feel lonely", while 28% drink "to help sleep" and 32% use alcohol "to help manage social distancing and isolation."
Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, says that the charity developed the new booklet in a bid to help Irish adults cope with the isolation and unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With all the uncertainty at the moment it can be hard to look to the future," she says. "But that is exactly what we must do.
"For many, alcohol use is rising, as people turn to alcohol to help them feel better (...) Alcohol is a depressant that disrupts how the brain functions. It affects our thoughts, feelings and actions.
"Drinking alcohol regularly, and particularly excessive or binge drinking, can worsen and contribute to the development of new mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Rather than negating anxiety or stress, alcohol can exacerbate both."
Horgan points to mindfulness and meditation as useful relaxation techniques for those who find themselves turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
She also suggests having alcohol-free alternatives in your home and removing alcohol from your shopping list. "If it’s not in the house, you can’t drink it," she says.
If you have been affected by any of the details in their article, you can visit Drinkaware's Alcohol and Covid hub here.