Norway: More Youth Use Alcohol to Cope with COVID-19 Crisis
1 in 5 young Norwegians who say they consume alcohol report that they have been used alcohol to get their mind off the corona crisis. These are the worrying results of a new study by the alcohol awareness organization Av-og-till.
The survey was conducted by Respons Analyse and commissioned by Av-og-til in the period of March 25 to April 02, 2020. The sample is representative for Norwegian society and consists of 1035 respondents.
The new study shows that most people consume alcohol more or less as usual, and that many Norwegians choose to consume less alcohol than they usually do.
But young Norwegians stand out. Youth in the age group of 18 to 24 years are outliers in the survey results. There are more people in that age group who have changed their alcohol habits after the coronavirus outbreak than in the general population otherwise. More of the young people report higher alcohol consumption after the outbreak, while at the same time some peers in this age group have reduced their alcohol intake.
That some adolescents have reduced their alcohol use is not surprising because youth often consume alcohol in social contexts and due to social pressures when they are out and about. But during stay-at-home orders this has disappeared and thus alcohol consumption has declined.
But at the same time, a total of 21% of 18- to 24-year olds say they are using alcohol to cope with the current crisis. In the general population it is only 7%, according to Av-og-till.
Over a long period of time, we have seen that young people are ahead of the new trend of reducing or quitting alcohol use, either by choosing non-alcoholic alternatives or drinking lower alcohol content beverages. That’s a reason to cheer.
At the same time, many young people report that they have mental health problems, and some use alcohol to cope. In the worst case scenario, this could be the start of a bigger problem,” warns Randi Hagen Eriksrud, Secretary-General of Av-og-til.
Alcohol is not a healthy coping tool. There is a clear connection between alcohol use and mental health problems.
Alcohol does a bad job when it comes to coping with stress and anxiety.
On the contrary, alcohol can reinforce already negative feelings”, says Ms Eriksrud.
The World Health Organization has clearly adviced to not use alcohol for dealing with stress and anxiety during the current crisis. WHO while discussing coping mechanisms during the COVID-19 pandemic, has asked people to not use alcohol and other harmful substances to cope with the crisis. Instead they suggest activities which are promoting mental and physical health to support ourselves and loved ones during this time.