A staggering number of people are relying on alcohol at “high-risk levels” to cope with stress sparked by fears linked to the global health crisis, experts in England have warned, raising concerns that addiction support services may buckle under the pressure.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking excessively in June compared to 4.8 million people in February.
Research found that those between the ages of 35 and 54 were the most likely to be consuming more alcohol following the nationwide lockdown.
The World Health Organization has urged people to stay sober amid the health crisis, warning that heavy alcohol consumption only fuels the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, one of the most threatening complications of the novel coronavirus.
A recent survey of British adults revealed that 1 in 4 people reported feelings of loneliness during the pandemic as social distancing restrictions drove a wedge between colleagues, families and friends.
“Social isolation and a lack of a human connection is a big factor behind why some people turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, so clearly the pandemic continues to be really tough for many people,” Laura Bunt, deputy chief executive of the mental health charity We Are With You told the BBC.
Bunt added that Britain as a whole had been grappling with alcohol issues since before the lockdown, and she called on the government to take action.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it has increased funding for public health services including addiction.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that by the end of June, 13 percent of adults had started drinking alcohol to help cope with stress sparked by the health crisis or had increased their alcohol intake.