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Since the countrywide lockdown the UK has seen an excessive rise in alcohol consumption but how could this affect your business?
The Global Drugs Survey1,one of the UK’s longest running data sets, has reported big rises in drinking during the Covid-19 pandemic. The figures show that out of those who do drink, almost half reported drinking earlier in the day, more than half reported consuming alcohol on more days of the week than usual and a third reported drinking excessively or binge drinking on occasions. This is not the only study to reveal an increase in alcohol consumption over the last few months. According to the Policy Institute at King’s College London2 nearly a third of individuals, 29% are reporting that they have drunk more alcohol than they normally would.
Recent figures from June 7th 2020 show that approximately 8.9 million individuals across the UK have been furloughed and with a countrywide lockdown, there are more people grounded within their homes than ever before. So even though individuals have more time, they are severely restricted in what they can do and consequently, it would seem that many are turning to drink in order to combat the boredom. In addition, and where this may impinge on those returning to the workplace, alcohol can be seen as a coping mechanism for individual’s experiencing levels of stress, anxiety and depression. These are all factors that have been considerably impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, offering another explanation as to why we have seen this level of increase in certain people’s drinking. The data set reports that there has been a decrease in pleasure from drinking, suggesting that alcohol is no longer having the desired effects for individuals and therefore, they are likely to consume more, a circuitous route that could lead some to alcohol dependence. Therefore, with a significant portion of the UK population negatively changing their relationship with alcohol, this could cause implications both at home and within the workplace.
Colin Drummond, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry3 at King’s College London said: ‘There is extensive evidence that the level of alcohol consumption is highly correlated with health harm. So with a substantial increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect in due course a surge in alcohol related ill health including alcohol-related liver disease admissions and deaths.’ He goes on to explain that ‘alcohol consumption and mental health are also intimately linked and therefore, an increase in alcohol consumption is likely to increase the prevalence and severity of mental disorders.’.
This will have a significant impact on the workplace, as an employer may have 4 in 10 employees reporting various degrees of poorer physical health and/or decreased mental health, potentially leading to greater absenteeism and poor work performance as well as longer-term effects which could see an increase in people seeking treatment.
On the plus side, employers can counter this by actively educating their employees on the benefits of reducing their alcohol consumption. Prof Adam Winstock, a consultant psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist and founder and director of the GDS survey, said ‘we see real significant benefits of drinking less, this is not about being sober and not getting tipsy, just drop a day or two’s drinking to see a difference.’ This mirrors the advice from the NHS to have at least two consecutive days a week without alcohol.
Therefore, if you are a business owner, there has never been a more opportune time whilst re-onboarding or back-to-work interviewing staff, to have that advice available. Conversations around Drug and Alcohol use can sometimes be perceived as uncomfortable or complex but by following D.tec’s simple mantra of Policy – reinforcing your Drug and Alcohol policy, Educate – explaining the importance of the policy within the workplace, Deter – screening your employees as a deterrent and Detect – catching any potential Drug and Alcohol users, you are able to severely reduce the risks of drink driving within your workplace.
Call or contact the team at D.tec if you have any questions or need further advice.
- The GDS special edition on Covid-19 was developed as part of a global effort to understand the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives, with a specific focus on the use of alcohol and other drugs, mental health and relationships. The majority of participants tend to be young, experienced with the use of illicit drugs, and employed or in education. There have been about 55,000 participants globally to date. The interim report is based on data from 12 countries. https://www.globaldrugsurvey.com/wp-content/themes/globaldrugsurvey/assets/GDS_COVID-19-GLOBAL_Interim_Report-2020.pdf
- Policy Institute at King’s College London in partnership with Ipsos MORI. The study is based on 2,254 interviews with UK residents aged 16-75, and was carried out online between 20 and 22 May 2020. Some of these latest results are compared with findings from a similar survey conducted between 1 and 3 April 2020.
- Colin Drummond, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London