Only Britain drank MORE alcohol at the start of the pandemic, while other EU countries are avoiding alcohol
Britain was the only European country where people actually drank more alcohol at the start of the Covid crisis than before the pandemic, according to data released today.
Experts surveyed more than 32,000 people in 21 different European countries about how much booze they consumed last April.
The survey data provides a snapshot of drinking habits as the coronavirus spiraled out of control in Europe and lockdowns were imposed to contain it.
The results showed that the Irish and Germans drank the same amount of wine, beer and spirits as before Covid, but rates fell in 18 other countries surveyed.
Researchers couldn’t explain why the UK saw a rise, nor have they broken down the data to explain exactly how much drink percentages have risen.
But they said Britons – notorious for their high rates of binge drinking – may have turned to alcohol as a ‘coping strategy’ to get through the lockdown. People in the UK also drank more than those elsewhere before the pandemic.
Scientists gave each country a score ranging from minus one to plus one, based on the average change in alcohol consumption. They found that Britons had a score of 0.1, while the average for the rest of the countries was -0.14. Ireland scored -0.08 but was not considered statistically significant, meaning the average amount drunk in the country remained the same. Researchers found that drinking habits in Germany also remained the same
Affordability was not considered a major factor because adults with the highest incomes drank less than those without as much money.
Experts behind the study, at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, said other countries may have been drinking less because of the reduced availability.
This could be due to cafe, bar or shop closures, restrictions on social gatherings, or because they could no longer afford it.
Number 10 ordered the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants only on March 23 last spring, weeks after other European countries made the same drastic decision to close completely.
The European Alcohol and COVID-19 Survey surveyed participants about their alcohol consumption between April and July 2020 and compared their responses to those of April 2019.
It asked people about changes in how often they drank, the amount they consumed when they drank, and how often they drank.
Volunteers also revealed their pre-pandemic family income and whether they experienced financial difficulties or other pandemic stress.
Scientists gave each country a score ranging from minus one to plus one, based on the average change in alcohol consumption.
Despite pubs, bars and restaurants closed under Covid restrictions since March 20 last year, people in the UK were drinking more alcohol. Pictured: A bartender at a Wetherspoons pub in Leigh, Greater Manchester, last October.
They found that Britons had a score of 0.1, while the average for the rest of the countries was -0.14.
Ireland scored -0.08 but was not considered statistically significant, meaning the average amount drunk in the country remained the same. Researchers found that drinking habits in Germany also seemed flat.
People in Albania (-0.37), Greece (-0.2) and Finland (-0.19) experienced the largest drop in drinking.
One in five of those who completed the survey reported “significant” or “high” levels of stress due to financial difficulties, while more than half said they were stressed about the changes in daily life.
Charity Alcohol Change states that the average adult drinks 18 units per week, which is equivalent to nine pints of beer or six glasses of wine. According to NHS guidelines, adults should drink no more than 14 units per week.
Carolin Kilian, who led the study, told MailOnline that Britain is “a relatively heavy drinking nation compared to other European countries,” with some adults regularly exceeding recommended limits.
“In some ways, therefore, it is not surprising to see the self-reported increase in consumption in our study during the early phase of the pandemic,” she said.
“As the pandemic continues, we suspect that while some reduced or did not change their drinking habits during the lockdown, some heavy drinkers drank more and drank more often.
“As such, and given the self-selected nature of our sample, we may have picked up some early indicators of this worrying longer-term trend.”
DO YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL? THE 10 QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL YOUR RISK
A screening tool commonly used by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). The 10-question test was developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization and is considered the gold standard for determining whether someone has problems with alcohol abuse.
The test is reproduced here with permission from the WHO.
To complete it, answer each question and write down the corresponding score.
0-7: You are within the responsible drinking range and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.
More than 8: Mention harmful or dangerous drinking.
8-15: Average risk level. If you drink at your current level, you risk developing problems with your health and your life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider decreasing (see below for tips).
16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own can be difficult at this level, as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counselor.
20 years and older: Possible dependence. Your alcohol use is already causing problems and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reducing your drinking. You should seek professional help to determine your dependence and the safest way to quit alcohol.
Severe dependence may require medically assisted withdrawal or detox in a hospital or specialist clinic. This is due to the potential for severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours requiring specialist treatment.