Data from a new survey in Flanders, the Flemish Region in northern Belgium, show 1 in 5 Flemish people consumed more alcohol during the COVID-19 lockdown. At the same time, 1 in 4 reported reducing their alcohol use.
The Flemish Alcohol and Other Drugs Expertise Centre (Vlaams Expertisecentrum Alcohol, VAD) surveyed 1000 people in Flanders, Belgium about their alcohol use during the COVID-19 lockdown. Here is what their survey found:
- 1 in 5 people consumed more alcohol.
- For those with a degree in higher education, alcohol consumption increased even more.
- 28% of people with a university degree consumed more alcohol compared to 17% of people who do not hold such a degree.
- There is an age difference in alcohol consumption during COVID-19.
- 27% of respondents between 35 to 54 years, 19% of respondents between 18 to 34 years and 17% of respondents over 55 years of age reported that they consumed “a little more” or “a lot more” alcohol than before the lockdown.
- A quarter of respondents reported consuming less alcohol.
- Over a third of respondents have consciously monitored their own alcohol consumption
The report states that people who have started to consume more alcohol during lockdown often struggle with negative emotions such as stress, loneliness, boredom or family-related tension.
The Expertise Centre has said that some people use alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions. The VAD cautions that the current pandemic and related lockdown measures can lead to host of negative emotions including stress and anxiety due to health concerns, switching to work from home, full-time care of children or elderly, pay cuts and threats to job security. The VAD warns that using alcohol to cope can lead to alcohol problems in the future.