Alcohol, drugs and isolation

May 2020

NCETA’s Professor Ann Roche was recently featured in the media highlighting the increased health risks of people using more drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety and boredom during COVID-19-related self-isolation.

She stated that “The drinks we serve ourselves at home tend to be larger and stronger than those from licensed premises – so it’s easy to drink more and not notice it.”

Professor Roche noted that excessive drinking will make physical isolation worse because it can increase stress and anxiety, disturb sleep patterns and reduce the immune system’s effectiveness in fighting illness. This not only impacts the individual but equally importantly the family members living in close contact with each other.

Ann also discussed the importance of people looking after themselves physically and mentally and offered the following helpful tips to people during this difficult time:

  1. Drink less not more at a time of stress
  2. Use stress reduction strategies such as exercise, meditation, laughter, etc
  3. Maintain close contact with friends and loved ones
  4. Have 2-3 alcohol free nights a week
  5. Stick to less than 10 drinks a week
  6. Limit the time of day that alcohol is used
  7. Don’t bulk buy or panic buy alcohol – there is never going to be a shortage
  8. Avoid drinking when cooking and doing household maintenance to reduce risk of injury
  9. Focus on eating really healthy meals
  10. Increase your intake of water.