Germany and COVID-19: Third of Adults Consumes More Alcohol

A new study by the Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim in cooperation with the Nuremberg Clinic has found that a third of adults in Germany is consuming more alcohol during COVID-19.

Early on in May 2020, Movendi International reported that alcohol retail sales had increased in Germany. Along with the increase in alcohol sales, addiction experts were already receiving more calls about substance use problems.

Germany: Rising Risk For New Addiction Wave

The Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim in cooperation with the Nuremberg Clinic surveyed over 3000 adults on their alcohol consumption.

  • 35.5% of the survey respondents reported consuming more or much more alcohol than before COVID-19.

The research is not representative, but gives an insight into alcohol consumption of Germans during COVID-19. Risk factors given by the ZI for increased alcohol use were:

  • Change in work status such as switching to work from home and
  • The stress and doubts about the ongoing pandemic.

Those who experienced high-stress from lower socio-economic groups were at a higher risk of increased alcohol use.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has adviced that alcohol should not be used as a coping tool during COVID-19. Despite this, as warned by health experts before, Germans tend to use alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism to face COVID-19 related challenges such as increased stress due to working from home, caring for children and elderly parents as well as anxiety from pay cuts and threats to job security. The ZI have also expressed similar concerns about Germans using alcohol as a “short-term relief”.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also revealing alcohol problems among people.

Corona has forced people who have previously hidden their [alcohol use] behavior – for example, on the way to work, at work, in the pub – to [consume alcohol] at home,” said Peter K. from Alcoholics Anonymous, as per ZDF.

Anne Koopmann from the ZI says that people can use this time to be mindful about their alcohol use in order to avoid use disorder and dependency. She says anyone could observe their alcohol use behavior closely, document it with the help of a diary, and maybe entrust themselves to a doctor or a counseling center.

Not only in Germany but worldwide there are reports about rising alcohol harm and addiction due to COVID-19. For example, the Global Drug Survey found that around 44% respondents reported consuming more alcohol. Experts have warned that the pandemic may have exacerbated existing alcohol-related harm and called on governments to take necessary action to address this problem.

For further reading:

COVID-19 and Alcohol – Consumption Data Strengthens Case for Ambitious Alcohol Policy

Sources:

RP Online: “A third of adults have been drinking more alcohol since Corona” [Translated from German]

ZDF: “Germany in the corona frenzy?-Every third person has been drinking more since the crisis” [Translated from German]