Today (Wednesday 21 October) Drinkaware is launching a new campaign to encourage the nation to consider the different ‘excuses’ we make to drink alcohol, and take more drink-free days.
With the challenges of the pandemic and the lockdown, research reveals that many people found themselves drinking more than they usually would[i]. And some displayed worrying patterns, such as drinking earlier in the day, drinking to cope with stress or anxiety and drinking on more days of the week.
Now, as we continue to face uncertain times, Drinkaware’s ‘No More Excuses’ campaign urges people to take charge of their health by having more drink-free days each week.
Drinkaware Chief Executive Elaine Hindal said: “It can be easy to find an excuse to drink. Anything from ‘it’s been a hard week’ or ‘it’s Monday’, to ‘I deserve it’ or ‘we may as well finish the bottle’. But if the excuses add up, so can the drinks, and so can the risk to your health.
“If you’re drinking more than usual we’d urge you to swap ‘excuse days’ for drink-free days instead. While it’s not always easy to change your mindset, support is available to help you cut back – our website has lots of advice and information.
“The fact is, the more you drink, the more you’re at risk of harm from alcohol. And as a nation, our health has never been more important. Cutting down on alcohol has many positive health benefits – physical and mental. Importantly, drinking less can help get our bodies into shape to fight illness.”
Research from Drinkaware[ii] revealed that the top five reasons people gave for drinking more alcohol over lockdown were:
- Boredom (29%)
- More time to drink (28%)
- Spending more time drinking with partner/household (24%)
- As a reward to cope with what’s going on (22%)
- Feeling anxious (20%)
Drinkaware is concerned drinking habits formed over the lockdown period could become ingrained and that further uncertainty, along with more time at home or isolated, could exacerbate people’s feelings of anxiety, leading some to drink more than they usually would. Over the long-term many more people could be at increased risk of health harms from drinking.
The more alcohol people drink, the greater their risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as seven types of cancer.
By targeting those most at risk of health harms from drinking, the campaign encourages people to reduce the amount they drink in order to reduce their risk of alcohol related health harms.
The Chief Medical Officers’ recommend drinking no more than 14 units a week, and if you do drink as much as this, to spread the units evenly, taking at least three drink-free days each week.
A simple way to remember 14 units is that it is equivalent to about six pints of beer, or six medium glasses of wine.
Drinkaware’s online quiz can help people to see how their drinking compares against the rest of the UK, as well as highlight any potentially harmful drinking habits that have developed during lockdown. Use Drinkaware’s free DrinkCompare Calculator to review your drinking.
For anyone worried about their drinking or someone else’s, Drinkaware has an online self-assessment that can help identify whether someone should be concerned about how much they drink. For confidential advice, head to Drinkaware.co.uk where you can talk to a professional via chat online or over the phone (0300 123 1110). Or find a list of support services either online or local to you.
[i] In the United Kingdom 22% of people polled said they were drinking more since the lockdown began; this equates to around 11.7 Million people over the age of 18. Research was conducted by Opinium on behalf of Drinkaware, surveying 2,001 nationally representative UK adults aged 18 and over from the 3 to 7 July 2020.