Millions in the UK Are Drinking Harmful Levels of Alcohol

Is it due to switch to drinking at home during Covid?

Experts have warned that millions of British citizens are causing themselves “silent harm” through harmful drinking at home. Figures reveal that “higher risk” alcohol consumption levels have escalated during the pandemic.

This phenomenon has been observed all over the UK.

The switch to drinking at home rather than in pubs during the Covid pandemic is partly to blame

Covid-related rise in alcohol consumption

Eight million people in the country are drinking so much alcohol that it is hazardous for their wellbeing, according to data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. There has been a massive rise in the number of persons drinking at levels considered to be dangerous.

Professor Julia Sinclair, the chair of the addictions faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the shift to drinking at home during the Covid pandemic was part of the reason. Drinking sessions now last several hours longer than in a pub.

Figures based on YouGov surveys indicate over 18% of adults in England were drinking at “higher risk” in the three months ending October 2021, which means 8 million people.

This is much higher than in February 2020, prior to the pandemic, when about 12% (6 million people) drank at these levels. In October 2019, nearly 12%, or about 5 million people, were drinking at the same level.

According to the NHS recommendation, adults should not consume more than 14 units of alcohol weekly. Professional test for alcohol dependency, which include asking clients about people’s drinking habits. It considers how often people drink, how many units per session if they feel guilty and whether they sometimes miss out on obligations due to drinking.

Sinclair said the latest data suggests that more than twice as many men as women drink alcohol at dangerous levels, indicating that people were still affected by Covid-associated anxiety. At the same time, some had developed alcohol-related habits.

Is this the new normal?

When asked if current drinking levels could be termed the “new normal”, she said: “The most pragmatic scenario is that the higher-risk drinkers go back to everyday risk drinking. But people won’t just suddenly jump back to where they were, it may be a gradual though definite process. 

“We’re going to see that some people who were perhaps drinking at a higher level of risk but were not physically dependent will have pushed themselves into a severe addiction. They’re not the group that can suddenly rewind from this stage.

“What was clear was that just nine months of drinking, as seen in 2020, was enough to push many people over the edge. 

Sinclair said some people who did not drink except when they went out with friends were now drinking at home. 

Sinclair said the current data shows that people were continuing to drink as much at home and then drinking in larger quantities. 

Many people may not yet have realised they have a problem and are therefore causing themselves “silent harm”, she said. Drinking at home “can go on for hours,” as people do not tend to keep track of their measures. 

Sinclair said patients were entering hospitals in a “much more severe” condition. “We’ve had more patients going into delirium tremens, which is life-threatening, who land up in intensive care,” she said. “I have seen more people in our hospital in that state during the pandemic than I have seen in the six years before that.”

Get support

It is best if you seek help before it’s too late. Professional services for detox and continued remote therapy is available. So instead of getting drunk, get sober at home!

If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol-related issue, call Freephone 0800 140 4044

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