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Call for restraint on alcohol use at home amid COVID-19 pandemic

Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse in Ireland, is encouraging the public to manage time spent at home or in self-isolation without alcohol, given that 50% of Irish adults cite ‘coping’ as motivation for their drinking habits[1].

Drinkaware has the following advice to help support people who find themselves isolated at home, without a routine, feeling anxious or under pressure and who are at risk of using alcohol as a means to cope:

  • Limit or cut out alcohol completely: If you catch yourself reaching for a glass of wine of bottle of beer to reduce stress or fill free time at home, make a change. Have plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives in the house and put them within easy reach. Store alcohol out of sight or remove it from your shopping list for now.
  • Create a list of activities to do instead: listen to a podcast, read a book or start a DIY project you’ve been putting off.
  • Talk and text: Check in with friends and family as much as you can by phone, video, text and social media. Keeping in touch can have a positive impact on your mood and ability to deal with problems.
  • Keep active: Get out for a walk in your local area every day. While we all need to practice social distancing and protective hygiene measures, we still need fresh air and exercise.
  • Cook a healthy meal: Take the extra time at home to try out a new recipe. A balanced nutritious diet is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health.

Adults living in Ireland aged 18-24 (64%) and 25-34 (58%) are most likely to report using alcohol as a way to cheer up when  in a bad mood or feeling stressed, as well as to forget about problems or because it helps when feeling depressed or anxious.

Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, commented: “Drinkaware supports the Government in strongly advising against house parties or similar social gatherings.

This pandemic is an uncertain time and people are naturally worried about their own health and the health of their loved ones.  We know that people often turn to alcohol as a way to deal with the stress and anxiety they are feeling. Half of Irish adults already report drinking alcohol to cope with problems and stress, and younger adults are more likely to use alcohol in this way. We are encouraging people to try some of our healthier strategies to manage these feelings to further reduce alcohol-related harm.

We also already know that home drinking is the new norm in Ireland and as recent images and media stories have shown, many people are stocking up on alcohol. Drinking at home presents unique issues including often unintended excessive drinking. We’re asking people to be especially mindful of their drinking and even explore their sober curious side over the coming days and weeks, even if boredom is likely to set in for many of us.

What we are facing right now is not about any of us alone, it’s about all of us. We must all do what we can to protect and support our communities and country, and that starts in our own homes.”

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