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Alcohol use increases during COVID-19

1 September 2020

Alcohol use increases during COVID-19

With people spending significantly more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, alarming new trends are starting to emerge – causing concern for the health and wellbeing of many Australians.

When restrictions were first introduced in April of this year, panic buying saw a surge in alcohol sales, prompting retailers to apply limits to purchases. But the extended periods of time spent in lockdown – coupled with stress, boredom and isolation – has seen many Australians developing unhealthy drinking habits.  

Research is revealing that not only are more people drinking – they are drinking more.

A survey conducted by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) towards the beginning of the pandemic found that in households where the buying of alcohol had increased:

  • 70 per cent were drinking more alcohol than usual
  • 34 per cent were drinking daily
  • 32 per cent were concerned about the amount they, or someone else, were drinking
  • 28 per cent were drinking to cope with anxiety or stress
  • 20 per cent were drinking earlier in the day

Break the habit

It can take just 66 days to form a habit.

For most Australians, this is around how long lockdown lasted and for Victorians it’s happening all over again!

If your alcohol use is rising during COVID-19 – Break the Habit!

On Sunday 9 August 2020, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation launched a new national advertising campaign – ‘Break the Habit’ – encouraging Australians to consider their drinking patterns during recent COVID-19 lockdowns and help them recognise the problem signs and what to do to turn them around.

Break the Habit seeks to highlight that even small increases to the amount of alcohol you drink can become harder to shift over time. Importantly, the amount of alcohol you drink can take a toll on your finances, and relationships and have lasting impacts on your physical and mental health.

The message from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is simple – there's lots of help and support out there to help you kick the habit.

Go to for information on how to recognise problem signs around drinking and find out more about what to do to turn your little habit around.

Salvos back Break the Habit campaign

The Salvation Army is throwing its support behind the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s campaign, which encourages people to take control of their alcohol intake through COVID-19.

Kathryn Wright, The Salvation Army’s National General Manager, Alcohol and Other Drug Services, says “Alcohol is by far the most common presenting issue amongst people attending treatment services, and after tobacco, continues to represent the substance that causes the most harm in the community”.

As one of Australia’s largest providers of alcohol and other drug treatment services, Salvos assist more than 14,000 people each year through recovery programs across the country. Recognising the social, financial, physical and emotional cost of excessive drinking, Salvos services provide care and understanding to individuals on their journey to recovery and offer support for as long as it takes.

The Break the Habit campaign, which provides practical tips for Australians who want to change drinking habits that have crept in during home isolation, is a positive step towards addressing an issue before it becomes worse.

If you have concerns about your own drinking or other drug use – or that of a family member – please contact the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 for free and confidential advice.

For helpful tips about breaking your drinking habits go to:

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