As the number of coronavirus cases continue to grow in Australia, people’s stress and anxiety levels have gone through the roof.
And while it may seem like the perfect time to reach for your favourite bottle of Shiraz, experts believe alcohol shouldn’t be a tool to help people get through the crisis.
Alcohol sales have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, with the Commonwealth Bank reporting that spending on alcohol surged once again last week, jumping a whopping 86% on alcoholic goods.
Professor Michael Farrell, Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales, called the rise in sales “extraordinary”.
“I read one quote that said it was busier than Christmas. It’s an international phenomenon,” he told Yahoo LIfestyle.
“It is quite striking. It’s the whole caveman mentality and people being locked down that generates that sort of response.”
According to Professor Farrell, the increase in people’s dependence on alcohol could stem from them being removed from their daily routines. Social anxiety around the coronavirus pandemic is also a vulnerability in its own right.
However, while people may turn to alcohol to settle their anxiety, he said “paradoxically it’s more likely to make the anxiety worse rather than better”.
Dr. Aiysha Malik, a technical officer at the World Health Organisation, also warned that alcohol is an “unhelpful coping strategy” in an interview with The Independent.
“With routines out of the window, we might well find ourselves reaching for a drink more often,” she said.
“It’s important that the government, alcohol producers and retailers keep reminding us that it’s best to stick to 14 units a week or less.”
Professor Farrell recommends people maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the pandemic, whether that be maintaining their physical and mental well-being or having structure in their day when they’re working from home and not working every hour of the day.
He also recommends a good diet, a regular sleep pattern and have a real focus on healthy living.
“That includes keeping an eye on alcohol consumption and making sure to have at least a few days of the week off,” he said.
If you’re having problems with alcohol or looking for somebody to speak with about your alcohol consumption, contact Alcoholics Anonymous on 1300 222 222
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