Women increased their alcohol intake more than men during the first lockdown and this time is likely to lead to MORE drinking due to darker, colder days, charity warns

  • Drinkaware found 26 per cent of people increased drinking during lockdown 
  • This was primarily driven by women who were more likely to drink over 14 units
  • The charity warns that the second lockdown will be worse for alcohol abuse 

During the first coronavirus lockdown women increased their alcohol intake more than men, and a charity warns the second lockdown will see more drinking.  

A study by alcohol education charity Drinkaware suggested 26 per cent of people in the UK increased their alcohol consumption between March and June 2020 and one in ten reported increased drinking over the entire course of the lockdown.

However, the report found that overall drinking had barely changed compared to previous years, with just over half of adults drinking at least once a week.

Most of the increase in consumption was driven by women, the charity discovered, adding that 14 per cent of women said they were drinking over 14 units per week. 

Drinkaware says it expects more people to suffer with alcohol abuse in the second lockdown because of darker days and colder temperatures. 

During the first coronavirus lockdown women increased their alcohol intake more than men, and a charity warns the second lockdown will see more drinking. Stock image

The team behind the research questioned people on their reasons for drinking more than usual during lockdown and most said it was due to having ‘more free time available’ 

When asked about drinking during lockdown compared to normal consumption, 27 per cent of women said they’d been drinking more compared to 25 per cent of men. 

The alcohol education charity chief executive, Elaine Hindal, said it was ‘unclear’ why the increase was slightly more marked among women, but that it was ‘very consistent with wine sales’.

She said that women were also generally better at accessing help for alcohol-related problems than men. 

It wasn’t all bad news in terms of alcohol consumption, according to Drinkaware, who found 27 per cent of adults claimed to reduce their alcohol consumption.

Those who consumed fewer units cited a lack of social occasions as the main reason, while others tried to improve their physical health.

Hindal said the primary reasons for people drinking more were job insecurity, poor mental health, a lack of daily structure and more free time.

Adding this was liekly going to be worse during a second lockdown, due to start this Thursday and last at least four weeks until December 2.

On Saturday British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four week lockdown that would see non-essential shops close and people urged to remain indoors. 

Hindal said: ‘We are concerned more this time because of the winter. I’m worrying that we are likely to see people going back to alcohol as a coping mechanism.

‘We are not questioning the reason for a lockdown, but it’s just recognising that people’s mental health and pressure people are facing haven’t gone, and will only be exacerbated by a second lockdown.’

She added: ‘People are drinking more because they are uncertain about their work or job, but that increases massively for people who are self-employed, so it’s really important that these people are given help and support from the Government.’

More than half of those surveyed said they intended to continue drinking at the same level as during lockdown even when measures were relaxed

Most people drank the same as normal during lockdown compared to previous years, but 26 per cent drank slightly more or much more in early lockdown and 14 per cent in later lockdown

The Drinkaware study, which was based on a YouGov survey of 9,046 UK adults aged 18 to 85 between August and September, warned there could be an increase in alcohol-related health problems.

The charity has called on the Government to prioritise the impact of alcohol harm and said the issue should be considered as a factor within mental health strategies.

Some 58 per cent of people surveyed found their drinking behaviours did not change during lockdown.

Drinkaware, which is funded by donations from UK alcohol producers, retailers and supermarkets, recommends a weekly alcohol limit of 14 units – the equivalent of six glasses of wine or six pints of beer.

They found 14 per cent of women reported that they had exceeded this amount on a weekly basis during lockdown, compared to 12 per cent of men. 


Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits.

It is organised into three categories: mild, moderate and severe. Each category has various symptoms and can cause harmful side effects.

If left untreated, any type of alcohol abuse can spiral out of control. 

Individuals struggling with alcoholism often feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol.

This can lead to a wide range of issues and impact professional goals, personal matters, relationships and overall health.

Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol abuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface. 

When alcohol addiction is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increases significantly.

Common signs of alcoholism include:

  • Being unable to control alcohol consumption
  • Craving alcohol when you’re not drinking
  • Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
  • Feeling the need to keep drinking more
  • Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
  • Behaving differently after drinking

Short-term effects of alcohol abuse can be just as dangerous as long-term effects. 

For instance, drinking can impact your reaction time, causing you to have slow reflexes and coordination.

That’s why drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. Getting behind the wheel of a car can alter your perception of speed and distance, putting yourself and others at risk.

Several short-term effects of alcohol abuse may produce:

  • Slow reaction time
  • Poor reflexes
  • Reduce brain activity
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness

Additionally, consuming too much alcohol can affect your long-term health. Some side effects may lay dormant for years before they surface.

Because of this, professional medical care is required for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Long-term health conditions caused by alcohol:

  • Brain defects 
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes complications
  • Heart problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Vision damage
  • Bone loss 

Treatment for Alcoholism 

There are different forms of treatment available based on frequency and severity of alcohol abuse. 

Recovering from alcohol addiction is a process that continues long after rehab. 

It takes commitment to practice and apply the techniques you learn in rehab, counseling, support groups and other types of therapy.

Although every individual will have their own recovery plan that’s tailored to their specific needs, treatment generally follows a structure.

Alcohol treatment is broken into three sections, consisting of:


The first stage in alcohol addiction recovery is detoxification. This phase should be completed with the help of medical professionals due to the potential for serious, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Many times, individuals are given a medication to help alleviate the painful side effects of a withdrawal.


There are two types of rehabilitation that help treat alcoholism: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehabs are intensive treatment programs that require you to check into a facility for a certain period of time, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. Outpatient rehab allows individuals to participate in a recovery program while continuing with their daily life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options to determine which form of recovery will best fit your needs.


The recovery process doesn’t end with the completion of rehab. Long-term sobriety requires ongoing therapy and may entail support groups, counseling and other recovery resources. These will make sure you maintain sobriety and continue on a happy, healthy path for months and years to come.

Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide

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