Been drinking less in lockdown? Turn that habit into lasting change

Date Published

21st August 2020




There is no getting away from the fact that, for many of us, life is challenging at the moment. And a lot of people use alcohol to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety, even to deal with a tough day.

Over the past few months Drinkaware has conducted research into the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s drinking behaviours, so we can understand more.

Our latest study revealed more than one in five (22%) of you have been drinking more since March, mostly from boredom and having more time. And a significant number of you are drinking more because you’re anxious, stressed and feel the need to drink to cope with the day.

One in seven of you are drinking less

But when asked how your alcohol drinking habits have changed since the lockdown began, about one in seven (15%) of you told us you’re drinking a bit or much less.

Interestingly, the reasons you give are mostly social. Almost a third (31%) of you say you’re drinking less because you have less contact with the people you usually drink with, the same number (31%) don’t like drinking at home and slightly fewer (29%) of you don’t like drinking when you’re not with your friends – this is actually the number one reason young adults are drinking less. In fact, if you’re aged 18 to 34, two-fifths (42%) of you told us you don’t like drinking without your friends.

Some of you told us that you’re drinking less to get healthier (22%). Good for you!

While the proportion of people drinking less is smaller than the proportion of people drinking more since the start of lockdown, it’s equivalent to more than seven million adults.

The question is, if you have been drinking less, will you continue as the restrictions on our daily lives continue to ease? With pubs, bars and clubs either closed, or with limited access, many of you have been seeing less of your friends and family in person and have found fewer reasons to drink. But as restrictions lift or people become more comfortable with social settings, albeit socially-distanced, if you’ve cut back, will you go back to pre-lockdown drinking habits?

The benefits of drinking less

Like many people who cut back on drinking, you might have benefited from better sleep, improved mood and productivity, brighter skin and more energy, not to mention fewer hangovers and – because alcohol can be calorific – a better ability to manage your weight. Your insides will have been grateful too, because drinking a lot of alcohol can irritate your stomach, lead to liver problems, increase your chances of high blood pressure and affect your fertility. Drinking too much can have long-term impacts as well.

Tips to stay on track

If you’ve cut back on alcohol and you’re keen to stay on track, here are our top tips:

  1. Try one of the many low alcohol or alcohol-free Whether you’re meeting friends or family in a pub or in your garden, venues and supermarkets have caught on to the demand for these drinks to cater for the thousands of people who choose not to drink – the choice of alternative beers, wines and spirits has never been better.
  2. Track your units with the free Drinkaware app to help you stay in control each week
  3. Stay within the low risk drinking guidelines of no more than 14 units a week, and include at least three drink-free days.
  4. Don’t give in to pressure if you know you tend to cave in when a certain friend or family member elbows you into drinking.
  5. Watch out for a change in your tolerance for alcohol. It may have decreased so be careful if you do have a drink as it may have an effect you’re not used to – drink plenty of water and make sure you don’t drink on an empty stomach.