The coronavirus pandemic has had an effect on many people in more ways than one, with a new study revealing two in five Australians have been drinking more alcohol since the pandemic started back in February. The Global Drug Survey Covid-19 Special Edition results were released on Wednesday.
The Australian sample of 1,889 people showed 39 per cent were drinking more compared to before Covid-19, whereas 37 per cent were drinking less. Meanwhile, 17 per cent reported no change to their drinking habits, while 7 per cent reported a mix of effects.
Looking at the reasons why people in Australia increased their drinking, 60 per cent said they turned to alcohol mainly due to boredom, 52 per cent said they had more time on their hands, while 40 per cent said they drank more because of their partner or household members. Meanwhile, 37 per cent credited their drinking habits to anxiety and stress, 30 per cent to loneliness and 29 per cent to depression.
However, those who increased drinking noted worse outcomes for physical health (55 per cent), mental health (36 per cent), work or study performance (30 per cent) and finances (26 per cent).
“Drinkers who reported having a diagnosed mental health condition were more likely to report increasing their drinking compared to February, before COVID-19 restrictions,” co-lead researcher Dr Monica Barratt from RMIT University said in a statement, according to The Guardian.
On the other hand, looking at the reasons why people in Australia decreased their drinking, 77 per cent said they had less contact with people they normally drink with, 67 per cent said they had less access to the settings where they usually drink, and 50 per cent said they don’t like drinking at home or when not out with friends.
The survey also found 49 per cent of people surveyed who used cannabis in the past 12 months said their use had increased compared to February. To break it down even further, 25 per cent said their use increased a lot, while 23 per cent said their use increased a little. Meanwhile, 34 per cent said their cannabis habits stayed the same, while 10 per cent said their use had decreased a lot and 7 per cent decreased a little.
However, other illegal drugs like MDMA and cocaine decreased due to the respondents having less contact with people who they do drugs with and less occasions where they usually use the drugs, while others said they don’t like using the drugs at home or during a pandemic.
If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800
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