Alcohol & Lockdown

This January is Dry January, brought to you by the charity Alcohol Change UK. Over the course of the month, you're challenged to 31-days of going booze free; join Nicola Coward, PACT HR Senior HR Business Partner as she explores the many benefits of Dry January and how to support those in the workplace suffering from alcohol abuse.

Alcohol & Lockdown

Author: Nicola Coward, Senior HR Business Partner

Date: 4th January 2021

As I sit here and write I’m also reflecting on the last 9 months, it’s been one hell of a year! If you’re the same as me, then 2020 has to be one of the most difficult years in memory. For lots of different reasons, both personal and professional and how do we cope when our normal routines are thrown into disarray and life feels tough?

In truth we all cope differently. Some throw themselves into a new or old hobby such as going for a long run or walking the dog. Others might cope by speaking to friends and family regularly and then some might say “oh well let’s have a little drink, it’s been a tough old slog and a drink will relax me”. But when that little and occasional drink turns into a bottle a night, do we notice? Do we worry?

I’m writing this on 11th December, and I’m thinking…Can I do a dry January? 31 days without an alcoholic drink, do I have enough will-power? Will my friends say I’m boring? Can I break the routine I have with alcohol?

So many questions but so many positives too!

Alcohol is a depressant; do you know that if alcohol was introduced new to us now it would be banned due to the negative effects and the strain on the NHS due to issues caused by alcohol? Yet it is still completely legal. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that it should be illegal but here are some stats!

  • More than a quarter of people have drunk more during lockdown
  • One in five have drunk more due to stress and/or anxiety
  • The Charity, Alcohol Change, reported a 242% increase, in people accessing their advice and support pages between 23rd March and 23rd June 2020.
  • 25% of A&E admissions relate to alcohol

With stats like that you can see that alcohol can cause many issues. The NHS has now updated its advice around alcohol, previously stating that there were health benefits to a regular moderate drink; not anymore!

Supporting Others

A person doesn’t have to be dependent on alcohol for it to have a negative impact on their life, but if someone has issues with alcohol or you suspect that to be the case don’t ignore it!

Talk to your staff. Engage with them about their health and don’t be afraid to approach someone who you think may be struggling. Life is not an easy ride for most of us and being able to support your staff through those difficult periods will always be appreciated.

Encourage them to seek help, whether that is professional help by talking to GP or a therapist or more informal support from a friend or family member. The first step is a recognition that somethings not right and then the desire to change.

Now what are the negatives of going booze free? (If you struggle to think of any then perhaps join me…Let’s do a Dry January together!)

For more information on how we can support your organisation with any of the themes explored in this article contact the PACT HR helpdesk via phone 01274 436644, or email