More drink, more often as more lockdowns imposed—survey

    The frequency and amount of alcohol people consumed since the initial lockdowns across the world in 2020 had risen more as lockdowns extended, says an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey.
    The study observes that increased alcohol consumption reflects high stress levels.
    Domestic violence rose by 60 percent.

    PARIS — In a 7-week survey from May to June 2020, 60,000 participating individuals from 11 countries were subjected to questions regarding alcohol consumption during the time lockdowns were imposed.

    The findings OECD show that people tend to drink more in terms of amount and more often in terms of times in a day as longer lockdowns are imposed.

    Thirty-six percent said their alcohol consumption increased, while 21 percent said it decreased and 43 percent said it was unchanged.

    According to Stefano Scarpetta, director for employment, labor and social affairs at the OECD, alcohol sales at restaurants and bars dipped but drinking at home increased.

    Increased alcohol consumption possibly reflects high stress levels, Scarpetta observes.

    Meanwhile, domestic violence rose by 60 percent across European Union countries during the pandenic based on the increase in number of emergency calls recorded, the survey says.

    “Lockdown and stay-at-home orders exacerbated some of the negative behaviors associated with harmful alcohol consumption,” it says.

    The sales of alcoholic drinks and accompanying tax revenues grew by 3 to 5 percent last year from 2019 in some nations such as Britain, the United States, and Germany.

    The survey also shows the probability of binge drinking— which it defines as consuming over 80 percent of a bottle of wine or 1.5 liters of beer per drinking occasion. For 23 percent of the respondents, it increased; but for 29 percent it was reduced. Almost half said that it did not change.

    Since the outbrerak in Wuhan, a number of major cities imposed confinement measures such as hard lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus. The imposition forced restaurants and bars to shut down or close earlier than usual as people stayed at home.

    The reopening of the economy would mean that supportive/financial measures for pandemic-hit sectors and individuals will be lifted. According to Scarpetta, this move could lead to further bankruptcies and unemployment and place people at risk of engaging in “harmful patterns of drinking” to get rid of stress.

    “It is difficult to know whether these changes will continue when living conditions go back to normality, but the experience of previous crises suggests that we may see an increase in problematic drinking in the medium term,” he says.

    The data was collected from 10 OECD members—Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Britain and the United States—plus Brazil, a non-OECD member. (TC/The MiNT)

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