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Are we drinking through the crisis?

by Chris | Statistics

A week or so into lockdown, flicking through Twitter with one hand and supping a cold beer with the other, I was stunned to see this:

I know everything’s a bit strange and everyone’s doing whatever they can to cope, but please, please go easy on the drink. I know some people won’t like me saying this, and that’s fine, but I have to say something because this time last week my kids had a dad and now they don’t.

Hippolyta Loudbasket 🇪🇺 (@Loudbasket) March 31, 2020

I really like a drink. Recently I have become acutely aware of just how much. Our office is a short walk from my home, with the pub in between (on the way back anyway). Meetings gravitated towards the late afternoon, when it would be unbritish to not have a beer with the chat, and the diminishing evenings came with a treat for processing the kids.

I’ve had to teach myself ways to resist the temptation, including tracking my daily intake, as I have been for nearly two years now. A drink today, might mean no drinks tomorrow. It mostly works.

The rules around booze seemed to go out of the window with the rest of normality when lockdown started. Suddenly it was fine to drink at any time and, frankly, it felt heroic to succumb to booze before the rapacious virus could get me. Until I read Ms Loudbasket‘s words. I have two young daughters, and I want them to have a dad.

The truth about booze is that it is bad for you. Trust me, I really want it not to be and I’ve looked very hard for the thinnest shred of evidence. Myths about drinking in moderation being good for you, two days off cancelling out the other five, some foods being antidotes, craft beer and £10+ wine not counting… doesn’t change the fact that alcohol is poison, and a unit is a unit.

I admit, that won’t stop me drinking. I’ll carry on enjoying in as much moderation as I can manage, encouraging myself to abstain as much as possible. Never playing “catch up”. Since each unit is bad, I will make sure I enjoy it. If I’m not, I will stop. In fact, since that first lockdown week I have since cut down considerably, so it has worked.

We asked 18,000 of you “How much more alcohol are you drinking during lockdown?” on our Survey Draw. A worrying 30% of you are drinking more, and 11.5% at least twice as much. That figure is 18% for 25-34 year olds:

Brits drinking more on lockdown

When we asked “Why?”, a third of you said “Boredom”, while 22% cited Stress. Youngsters are more susceptible to both:

why are brits drinking more on lockdown?

I know that life is tough for a lot of you so please don’t take this the wrong way. It’s just something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, and agree with Hippolyta (I wish I knew her real name) that something should be said. I’d love to hear your feedback, even if you disagree, in the comments below. Perhaps one of you holds the key to eternal boozing. Until then, please be sensible and think about those who want you to stick around.

Stay safe

Chris