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Alcohol Use Increases during COVID-19 Pandemic

April 24, 2020

According to a NANOS poll commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use, Canadians self-reported an increase in alcohol use while spending additional time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly those under the age of 54; 25% of Canadians aged 35–54 and 21% of Canadians aged 18–34 have increased their consumption of alcohol. Feelings of stress, boredom, along with changes to daily and weekly routines were cited as the top reasons for this increase. Other contributing conditions were loneliness related to physical distancing measures, and having more alcohol in the home due to purchasing larger amounts and stockpiling.

“COVID-19 has changed our usual routines and led to a time of uncertainty. With this, comes an opportunity to rethink some of our habits and ways of coping,” says Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paula Stewart. “Think about healthy ways to spend your time and to connect with people that increase your sense of well-being.”

The BounceBack program may help. This free program, for ages 15 and up, helps to develop coping techniques to overcome challenges and regain positive mental health.

Here are some tips to reduce potential harms associated with alcohol use:  

  • If you choose to drink, use Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to decrease the risk associated with alcohol use. Drink no more than: 10 drinks/week for women, with no more than 2 drinks/day most days; 15 drinks/week for men, with no more than 3 drinks/day most days.
  • Pace yourself. Have no more than one standard drink per hour. For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
  • Do not drink when: driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools; taking medicine or other drugs that interact with alcohol; doing any kind of dangerous physical activity; or responsible for the safety of others.
  • Alcohol can affect the healthy growth of the baby so avoid alcohol use if you are pregnant or planning to be pregnant.
  • Plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit.
  • Eat before and while you are drinking. This will help the alcohol absorb more slowly.
  • Plan ahead. Try to avoid people or places that lead you to drink more. If drinking at home is a problem, avoid having alcohol in the house.
  • Accept support from a professional, friend or someone else you trust.

Looking for additional supports? Check out our “Where to go for help” webpage.

The Health Unit has staff answering COVID-19 related questions and concerns for the public from 8:30am to 4:30pm every day at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2499. Public Health Inspectors are also available to discuss environmental health concerns. You can also get more information about COVID-19 by visiting www.healthunit.org/coronavirus or by connecting with LGLHealthUnit on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact

For media interviews, contact: Susan Healey, Communications Co-ordinator, 613-802-0550 or susan.healey@healthunit.org.