Baby boom addiction to booze increased during lockdown … and even more people are drinking their first drink in the morning, study suggests
- More of 55 to 74 year olds drink at a level that is ‘indicative’ of dependence
- A greater number drink for the first time in the morning and feel remorseful
- Psychiatrists warn that some drink the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day
Lockdown has led to an increase in alcohol addiction among the baby boom generation, a study suggests.
More of 55 to 74-year-olds now drink at levels “ indicative of likely alcohol dependence, ” researchers found.
A greater number of people drink for the first time in the morning and more feel guilty or remorseful about their habit.
Psychiatrists at King’s College London warn that some drink the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day.
Alcohol has served as a ‘comfort blanket’ in the face of health and financial concerns, social isolation and a lack of routine. But the tension of the past year has ultimately “ pushed them over an abyss, ” they add.
More of 55 to 74-year-olds now drink at levels “ indicative of likely alcohol dependence, ” researchers found. Picture: stock picture
The experts analyzed data from 366 patients aged 55 to 74 who had been referred to the NHS’s mental health services. Half were ordered before the first lockdown started and the other half afterwards.
Drinking at likely dependent levels – more than 50 units per week – rose from 19 percent to 28 percent over this period. The number of drinking four or more times a week has increased from 30 percent to 39 percent.
And those who drank at least once a month in the morning to get over a heavy session the night before more than tripled from 2 percent to 7 percent, according to the study published in the Journal of Substance Use.
Lead author Dr. Tony Rao said: “Alcohol acted as a comfort blanket for some people during lockdown as they struggled with social isolation, health and financial concerns, and a lack of routine.
In some cases, this drinking has gotten out of hand and they have floated over the edge of a cliff, with adverse effects on their health.
Before they locked up, they may have been drinking socially with friends, but now they only drink at home.
A greater number of people drink for the first time in the morning and more feel guilty or remorseful about their habit. Picture: stock picture
‘If they were in the pub, someone might notice that they were staggering or drinking too much and suggest that they have nothing left.
But if you drink at home, you don’t have those checks and balances, and it’s easier to drink problematically.
“They may no longer drink half a bottle of wine a day with meals, but a whole bottle every night.”
Dr. Katherine Severi, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: “Before the pandemic, so-called baby boomers were the heaviest drinkers, so it is worrying to see an increase in alcohol consumption in this age group.
“Older adults are at a much higher risk of developing alcohol-related chronic conditions such as breast cancer, colon cancer and liver disease.”
She added, “With the healthcare system grappling with Covid-19, having a healthy aging population is more important than ever.”
Matt Lambert, of the Portman Group, a trade association in the alcohol industry, said the majority of baby boomers drank responsibly in lockdown.
But he added, ‘The findings reinforce the incredibly worrying pattern that a small number of people who drink with the highest levels of alcohol harm seem to have further increased their alcohol consumption.
“Coming out of lockdown, we need to focus on these vulnerable adults and look at finding support for the complex, multifaceted problems they face.”