Belgium: Alcohol Use Falls Under COVID-19 Lockdown
The COVID-19 lockdown in Belgium has lead to a reduction in alcohol use, according to a new survey.
A team of researchers at the University of Louvain conducted the online survey among 10,000 Belgian adults. The results showed:
- Over 49% are consuming the same amount of alcohol as before the lockdown,
- 29% are consuming less alcohol than before,
- Of those who are consuming less alcohol the decrease was about 10 doses of alcohol, per week which translates to about 10 glasses of wine, and
- The reduction in alcohol use was more common among men and those in the 20 to 40 years age group.
The researchers say the results contradict the widely held idea that alcohol use would increase during the crisis.
The survey findings also showed those who were consuming more alcohol were experiencing higher stress and anxiety levels than others.
Interviewees who have increased their consumption under the lockdown are more anxious about the risks of losing a stable income or their job because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic, and family stress also appears to play a role as respondents with children tend to [consume] more,” said the researchers, as per The New York Times.
Health professionals who have to continue to work are specifically at higher risk of consuming more alcohol due to stress and anxiety of contracting the novel coronavirus themselves or infecting loved ones.
Use of alcohol is not a healthy coping mechanism to deal with the challenges of the pandemic as the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated. Alcohol harms the body physically and weakens the immune system making a person more susceptible to the virus and its complications. Furthermore, alcohol is known to increase stress and anxiety. WHO recommends other healthier ways of coping such as sharing worries with loved ones.
More resources to support people
There are many online tools and help available for those who want to stay sober or quit or reduce their alcohol use during the crisis.