THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic is driving us all to drink with more than four million over 50s binge drinking at least once a week during lockdown.
Restrictions to stop the spread of the virus are having a huge impact on adults and the amount of booze we are knocking back each day, a study has revealed.
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It comes after it was revealed that the number of boozers putting their health at high risk has doubled.
It leapt to 8.4million in June, from a pre-lockdown figure of 4.2million in February, the Royal College of Psychiatrists warns – and experts blame the stress of lockdown.
Today, new research from mental health charity With You, revealed that more than 1.9 million over 50s say lockdown restrictions lead them to start drinking earlier in the day, with 2.1 million saying it has affected their mental health.
A study from the Centre for Ageing Better found 32 per cent of people aged between 50 and 70 have been drinking more as a result of the pandemic.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also shows that people over 55 are most likely to drink at hazardous levels, with consumption among this group increasing in recent years while it decreases among younger age groups.
The research from With You claims that the issue of binge drinking will intensify over the next few weeks, with more than 1.3 million over 50s saying a second national lockdown will lead to them drinking even more.
If you're worried about the amount of booze you've been knocking back in lockdown then take the recognised test for alcohol-use disorders above, then follow the scoring guide below to see your level of risk and dependency.
Elaine Hindal, head of charity Drinkaware, previously revealed what the different scores mean for YOU, and we list some warning signs to look out for, ways to cut back and sources of help.
What your score means
0-7 = Low risk
Elaine says: If you drink fewer than 14 units a week, you’re at lower risk of dependence on alcohol and of health problems from drinking.
The good news is, if you sometimes drink more than 14 units a week it should not be too hard to cut back.
Be careful not to binge drink. It can lead to accidents and even alcohol poisoning.
If you drink 14 units a week, spread them out, with at least three drink-free days each week.
8-15 = Increasing risk
Elaine says: It’s important for you to know that your pattern of drinking could be dangerous to your health, because you could be drinking more than 14 units a week.
You could be at an increasing risk of developing some serious health problems and increasing your risk of alcohol dependence.
Now is the time to cut back on how much you have been drinking.
16-19 = Higher risk
Elaine says: Your drinking could be very dangerous to your health.
Regularly drinking much more than the low-risk guideline of 14 units a week causes serious harm – seven types of cancer (including breast), liver and heart disease, and high blood pressure.
You could be at high risk of alcohol dependence and should think seriously about drinking less and perhaps find expert support to help you.
20+ = Possible dependence
Elaine says: Your answers suggest you drink much more than the low-risk guideline of 14 units a week and your drinking is dangerous to your health.
It may already be causing problems to your physical or mental health – or both.
You could be at high risk of alcohol dependence. Please think seriously about finding expert support to help you to cut back or to stop drinking.
7 signs you're boozing too much… and how to stop
WARNING BELLS INCLUDE:
- Opening a bottle or can earlier in the day than you usually would.
- Finding it hard to stop at one or two drinks.
- Drinking out of boredom.
- Experiencing anxiety or depression, and drinking to cope.
- Feeling the need to drink more each time to get the same feeling.
- Finding the quality of your sleep, mood and productivity has declined.
- Experiencing sweating, shaking or nausea, which could all be symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (it is important to get professional medical advice or support if dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Stopping drinking completely can be dangerous to your health).
WAYS TO CUT BACK, FROM DRINKAWARE:
- Stick to drinking within low-risk guidelines – no more than 14 units each week.
- Have at least three drink-free days each week and replace drinking with an activity.
- Take the pressure off calculating units by keeping track of your drinking with our app.
- Experiment with alcohol-free drinks, there is an increasing variety on offer in the shops.
- Use smaller glass sizes for drinks and use a bottle stop to save wine for another day.
SOURCES OF HELP:
- For confidential advice, tips and online tools, see drinkaware.co.uk. You can talk to a professional adviser by online chat or over the phone or find a list of support services either online or local to you.
- Drinkaware urges anyone worried about their drinking, or someone else’s, to call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.
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