Ireland: Surge in Daily Take-Home Alcohol Sales
Ireland sees a worrying surge in daily take-home alcohol sales. A significant number of Irish people report increased alcohol consumption, especially younger adults. Alcohol-related violence is also rising, prompting calls from affected communities to limit the amount of alcohol that can be purchased during the current public health crisis. Community leaders and public health experts express grave concern about a new tsunami of alcohol problems in the wake of COVID-19.
New data show a surge of €6 million in daily take-home alcohol sales in Ireland during COVID-19 lockdown.
According to Nielsen data,
- The four weeks from April 6 to May 3, 2020 saw take-home alcohol sales reach €184.5 million – the highest spend in three years of data.
- A total €342.5 million was spent on alcohol during lockdown, over the full eight weeks of COVID-19 restrictions. From March 9 to May 3, at-home alcohol consumption rose by 43% or €102 million more than the same period last year.
- Alcohol sales in shops rose by 13% during lockdown compared to 8% in 2019.
There is a threat that rising alcohol use at home will maintain as a trend even when the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
The Nielsen data align with Central Statistics Office survey data from earlier in the month which show 22% of Irish people have increased their alcohol consumption during lockdown. The rise was sharpest in younger adults with more than 30% in the 18 to 44 age group reporting a rise in alcohol use.
Tsunami of alcohol related problems in the wake of COVID-19
Communities and public health experts are warning that the Irish economy, health and social services will face a tsunami of alcohol related problems in the wake of coronavirus.
Already the HSE Drugs and Alcohol helpline received 1,150 calls in March and April 2020 – a surge of 41% on the same two months in 2019 from Irish people looking for help with alcohol problems.
The World Health Organization has advised people to avoid alcohol during COVID-19 and advised governments to restrict access to alcohol due to alcohol harm which can interact with the COVID-19 pandemic and cause even more loss of life and health system burden.
Science suggests there is an elevated risk of developing alcohol addiction by using alcohol during COVID-19 lockdown and the physical distancing measures. Rising addictions will add to the mental health problems which are predicted to rise due to the pandemic and resulting problems such as physical isolation, disruption to normal routines, economic downturn leading to pay cuts and job loss.
An investigation from Alcohol Action Ireland reveals calls to domestic violence services have risen by as much as 300% during the pandemic. Many callers are reporting alcohol use by their abusers.
Other data about rising domestic violence include,
- 25% increase in calls to police for callouts on domestic violence,
- 60% rise in activity at Women’s Aid helpline,
- 300% rise in calls at the Male Advice Line from men reporting abuse during the lockdown, and
- 50% rise in calls to Men’s Aid.
Mary McDermott of Safe Ireland called to revise physical distancing rules to protect vulnerable women and children from becoming captive in their homes.
Eunan McKinney of Alcohol Action Ireland called on the Government to restrict the amount of alcohol people can buy to limit the repercussions of heavy alcohol use during the COVID-19 crisis.
We’ve seen a significant spike in the level of alcohol being poured into Irish homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
People need to be aware that temporary habits can easily become permanent.
It will also have repercussions for the health system,” said Eunan McKinney from Alcohol Action Ireland, as per Irish Mirror.