A wine a night thanks to COVID

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Nearly one in five Australians wish they had drunk less alcohol during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to new survey data out from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

The survey of 1,000 Australians aged 18-65 also found a similar number, nearly 20% want to reduce the amount of alcohol they’ve been consuming recently.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s new data shows that while 20% of Australians consumed less alcohol during the lockdown, a concerning number increased the amount they were drinking, with at least 12 per cent of people drinking every day during lockdown.

That includes mum of three Casey Bennett.

“I normally only have a glass of wine on the weekend, but when the first lockdown started, I noticed I started pouring a glass of wine with dinner on weekdays,” she said.

“I told myself at first that it was a ‘reward’ for getting through home-schooling three children aged under 10. Before I knew it, I was ‘rewarding’ myself almost every evening. It was always just one glass, but it all adds up. 

“One Wednesday evening, I went to pour my evening drink but there was no wine in the house. It was then I realised how much more alcohol I’d been going through than normal.

“Since then, I’ve made a conscious decision to go back to my usual routine of only having a drink on the weekends. Immediately my sleep improved and, ironically, I now have more energy to tackle home-schooling, which was stressing me out in the first place.”

Alcohol and Drug Foundation Chief Executive, Dr Erin Lalor, said that, given how tough this year has been, it’s not surprising people have looked for different ways to cope, including increasing their alcohol consumption.

“The last few months have been incredibly hard for everyone, particularly for those who have lost work, social connectedness and especially for those who have lost loved ones,” Dr Lalor said.

“We’ve all been trying our best under challenging, never-before-seen circumstances.

“Enough time has passed for behaviours picked up in lockdown to become entrenched. Now is the time for Australians to reflect on their recent drinking, so that little habits developed over the past couple of months, don’t turn into a big problem in the future. 

“The longer a habit is left to form, the harder it can become to change. If you want to reduce the amount of alcohol you’ve been drinking recently, you are not alone. Our new data shows that, overall, around one in five of us want to cut back.

“Half of the people who told us they drank more during this time said they want to reduce how much they’re drinking.

“The good news is there’s lots of practical support available right now on how to change behaviour. Even small steps such as introducing alcohol free days into your week, or having one less drink a day, can have a powerful impact.”

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