Have you been drinking more since lockdown? If so, you are not the only one…
With pubs being forced to close amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many of us have enjoyed an extra tipple or two at home. However, many of us will not have properly considered the long-term consequence of this, including the negative health issues that come with increased or excessive alcohol consumption.
When it comes to sorting life insurance cover, the cost depends on a few things, including information related to your general health and lifestyle. Basically, the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper life insurance will be for you, but issues related to alcohol can impact this.
For the following article, we collaborated with Andrew Kinder, Head of Mental Health Services at Optima Health, Tai Ibitoye, Registered Dietitian at Tai Talks Nutrition and Christine Wright, Founder of Habit Breaker, to discuss the impact of lockdown on the nation’s alcohol consumption, the health implications of excessive drinking or alcohol addiction, as well as sharing expert advice on reduce your intake and what the long-term benefits of doing so are. Read on to find out more.
According to Alcohol Change, more than one in five (21%) adults who drink alcohol are drinking more often since lockdown and nearly one in five (18%) daily drinkers have further increased the amount they drink. The findings suggest that 8.6 million adults in the UK are drinking more frequently since lockdown.
An editorial published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlighted that alcohol dependence will be triggered by bereavement, job insecurity, or troubled relationships.
Research by DrinkAware also found that 36% of furlough workers have increased their alcohol consumption since the start of lockdown, versus the nationwide average of 24%. The BMJ research also found that, before COVID-19, only 1 in 5 harmful and dependent drinkers got the help they need; the proportion is now expected to be even lower now.
The implications of excessive alcohol consumption
Andrew Kinder explained that “alcohol use and misuse is linked to a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, insomnia, anxiety and it's even a factor in suicide rates. Ultimately, alcohol is a depressant and it changes the chemical balance of the brain. The more we drink, the more damage we can do and if we drink heavily and regularly, we start to develop symptoms of depression”.
Alongside contributing to feelings of depression, alcohol can affect mental health in several other ways, including:
- Memory loss
- “Alcohol slows down the processes in the brain, which means we can forget the things we get up to when drunk. Frequently drinking too much can cause more permanent damage to the brain”
- Suicide and self-harm
- “Research shows that more than half of people admitted to hospital because of deliberate self-harm and injury confessed to drinking immediately before or while they’d done it”
- Relationship breakdown
- “Although alcohol can help to build relationships, it can also lead to arguments and bad behaviour that contributes to relationship breakdown”
- Poor sleeping habits
- “Whilst some people claim to sleep better when they’ve had a drink or two, alcohol disrupts the regular sleep cycle, so we feel tired, irritable and dehydrated the following day, often craving unhealthy foods”
As well as impacting mental health, Tai Ibitoye adds that “excessive (more than 14 units a week) and prolonged drinking can lead to chronic medical conditions including certain cancers (like mouth, throat, and breast cancer), liver disease, brain damage stroke, cardiovascular disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and damage to the nervous system”.
Reducing your alcohol consumption during lockdown
Tai added 8 practical tips on how people can reduce their alcohol consumption during lockdown:
Long term benefits of reducing alcohol consumption
Christine Wright explained that “excessive alcohol consumption can cause chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, mental health issues and digestive problems”.
Christine continued that “the benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption include: reduced chances of getting liver cancer, or cirrhosis of the liver; better long term physical and mental health; weight loss; increased energy; improvement in sleeping pattern; and relationships will improve.
“The lesser known benefits include: healthier skin; improved sex performance; gain a healthier digestive system; improved dental health, as alcohol is the second cited reason for tooth decay and ulcers; and monetary savings”.
Tai added that increased self-awareness and the monetary aspects are other unexpected benefits – regularly buying alcohol can be expensive, and so not buying alcohol as often can surprisingly help you save money that you can use for something more beneficial to you
At Cavendish Online, we offer various options to help you find the best insurance for you. You can apply for a policy online yourself, in just a few minutes. Alternatively, you can choose to speak with one of our specialists over the phone, who can guide you through the process and help you choose the best cover for you and your family.
For help with your new life insurance policy, call one of our consultants on 01392 241 850.
Disclaimer: The tips in this article are not intended as a substitute for medical advice and should not replace the relationship that exists between a patient and their existing healthcare provider. Cavendish Online are not liable or responsible for the accuracy of the advice provided by third party experts, nor for the content or operation of any third party websites, webpages, or resources which have been linked to within this article.