More people drinking alone in COVID

By Nicki Bourlioufas

Many people have turned to alcohol and other drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic after being forced to stay at home, while more people are drinking alone, according to the latest Global Drug Survey, the world’s largest annual drug survey.

According to the online survey, 43% of respondents reported increasing the frequency of drinking alcohol while one in four people said they drank less. Separately, 36% reported an increase in the amount of alcohol they drank on a typical day while 22% reported a decrease, compared to pre COVID-19.

The online survey of 55,000 people in 11 mostly rich countries was conducted over seven weeks in May and June. The total global sample size was 55,811, including in Germany (25,812), France (6,193), Ireland (4,518), Brazil (3,653), Switzerland (3,498), Netherlands (3,277), New Zealand (2,998), United Kingdom (2,136), Australia (1,889), Austria (1,108), and the US (729).

As the chart below reveals people were drinking alcohol more at home alone (39% during COVID-19 compared to 32% before) while many more were drinking alcohol at home during video and phone calls. Click here to go to a survey and tell us if you are drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: GDS

Not only did frequency increase for some, but 30% of respondents reported starting drinking earlier in the day, with women slightly more likely to say this as the chart below shows, compared to before COVID-19 and 42% wanted to drink less in the next 30 days.

Source: GDS

Of the 75% who were drinking alone at the time of the survey, 41% reported that they were drinking alone more often compared to before COVID-19 while 41% of people with a mental health or neurodevelopmental condition reported they were drinking more due to increased stress about COVID-19 compared to 21% of people without mental health or neurodevelopmental conditions.

The Australian sample of 1,889 people consisted mainly of younger adults (73% were younger than 35). Some 39% reported drinking more compared to before COVID-19, whereas a similar number (37%) were drinking less.

Last year GDS2019 asked people how often they got drunk. English speaking countries came out on top, reporting getting drunk an average of 50 times per year, with German speaking countries being more moderate in their excesses. While most of the occasions on which participants reported getting drunk were reported as being enjoyable, on about 20% of occasions the consequence was one of regret


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