Drinking to forget

It’s now been around 15 months since we first went into lockdown in the UK. During that time, many of the alcohol support helplines have reported huge increases in the number of people reaching out for help.

According to research by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, nearly 8.5 million adults were drinking at high risk level in September, almost double the level last February before our first lockdown.

The Office for National Statistics have reported deaths caused by alcohol in 2020 were at the highest rate since their records began in 2001 – up almost 20% on the previous year.

This scares me. I would not wish alcoholism on my worst enemy. It terrifies me that millions of people are potentially on the verge of going down the dark road I did. Some of them may already be there.

The pandemic has been stressful for everyone. People have lost their jobs or been furloughed for long periods. People have been isolated. People have been lonely. People have been scared. People have lost loved ones. Alcohol offers a temporary escape from all of these things. So, people have turned to it.

My biggest concern is that alcohol is becoming a fixed part of peoples routines. That’s how it started for me.

I began drinking vodka every evening. It soon got to the point where that evening bottle of vodka was all I thought about all day. If I thought I was gong to struggle to get hold of a bottle on any particular night; I would have a panic attack.

That is how my journey to liver disease began. That was the first pattern of behavior that led me to lose everything. Those drinking habits emerged during the first year of the seven I ended up losing to alcoholism.

Having alcohol as a permanent fixture in your daily life can be dangerous. If that’s you, please, at the very least, have a conversation with someone about it.

It’s easy to brush high risk drinking under the carpet if it’s socially acceptable. As a society, things need to change. Otherwise thousands of people will be mourning the loss of a loved one who fell into to the hole, that is, alcohol addiction.

I’m currently making a documentary for ITV about this very subject. It’s a huge opportunity to shine a light on this ever growing issue, and with a bit of luck, help some people. It might even get the ball rolling for some real positive change.

As a part of it, we would like to hear from anyone who’s drinking habits have changed during the pandemic. Getting in touch does not mean you have to appear on TV if you don’t want to. We just want to hear what peoples experiences have been like.

If you want to share your story and tell us how the pandemic has affected your alcohol consumption, please email alcohol@itn.co.uk.

Thank you for reading and stay safe.


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