In the webinar researcher Jürgen Rehm, presented the first results from a study of alcohol consumption during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. The study participants consisted of citizens from 22 countries in Europe. In total, more than 40,000 people participated. The survey responses were combined with sales data to provide as accurate a picture of the situation as possible.
Previous research has discussed how alcohol use could increase during the pandemic as people use alcohol to cope with the trauma. Researchers have expressed concerns that this could further foment the public health crisis that is alcohol harm. Reports from around the world are showing a trend of increasing alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in certain demographics. Considering the prolonged nature of the pandemic experts warn that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the alcohol epidemic.
Meanwhile across Europe alcohol availability has declined as bars, restaurants and pubs are either closed, or have limited operating hours. As Movendi International reported some countries have specifically implemented restrictions on serving alcohol as part of the efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Another aspect affecting consumption is pay cuts and job loss which would reduce income and therefore, reduce money spent on alcohol.
These effects raise the question as to whether alcohol consumption has increased or decreased during COVID-19 and results from some countries in Europe such as the UK have been mixed, showing both a decrease in alcohol consumption by low-dose consumers and an increase for heavy alcohol users.
According to the results presented by Jürgen Rehm, in Europe the pandemic and resulting reductions in availability and affordability have led to an overall decrease in alcohol use.
In total, there has been a significant reduction in alcohol consumption during the first months of the pandemic,” said Dr. Jürgen Rehm, lead researcher of the study, as per Accent.
Frequency, as well as quantity and number of intoxication occasions have decreased.”Jürgen Rehm, Senior Scientist, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
According to the results, most people have not changed their consumption, but those who have either reduced substantially or are consuming a little more alcohol.
In conclusion, the results indicate that the natural experiment offered by the pandemic supports that alcohol policy measures at the population level are effective in reducing alcohol consumption.
For Europe, the region with the heaviest alcohol intake in the world, these are promising results building a case to strengthen alcohol policy solutions action across the region.