Lockdown sees a rise in the use of alcohol, drugs, & gambling

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During lockdown restrictions were placed on the sale of alcohol in many countries; some including South Africa and Greenland went so far as to temporarily ban the sale of alcohol altogether. But the numbers of individuals struggling with alcohol and addiction problems has still risen sharply.

In the UK, alcohol sales rose 30% in March alone; the USA reported that in the last three months sales of alcohol has risen 27%.

In Scotland there are growing fears that the drugs users are buying have been cut with increasingly more dangerous or even fatal substances by dealers, as demand has outstripped supply.
Whilst gambling on sports has dropped, mainly due to the restrictions on live sporting events, the numbers for those using online slot machines and poker sites has risen by almost 40%, and almost 60% of those deemed as problem gamblers have upped both their financial stakes and the time spent partaking.

Turning to addictive substances or behaviours is a typical “coping mechanism” for people dealing with the stress and isolation of lockdown, and the strange new world that awaits as lockdown eases.

Many of us like a little alone time but when it is forced on us for an unspecified length of time, being cut off from loved ones and family members, having to assume the extra responsibility of jobs that are normally covered by others - such as home schooling or housekeeping – all while living under the cloud of a life threatening disease, is cause enough for anyone to feel stressed and anxious.  

Or it may simply be a person’s way of dealing with boredom, loss of a job, curtailing of activities such as the gym or keep fit classes, and a complete restriction on socialising has left many with hours of the day to fill, and nothing to fill it with.

It is not a surprise that people have turned to substances and behaviours that give them a level of comfort; or at least they do to start with. The repeated excessive use of any addictive substance or behaviour can lead to addiction, and the initial numbers show a rise in reported problem cases.

The sad fact is all addictions, especially when they get out of control, go unchecked and are left untreated, invariably lead to greater anxiety, more stress and further isolation as the disease itself keeps people separated from those that care about them.

Hope is not lost. Throughout lockdown and continuing on afterwards (during the new “normal”) fellowship meetings such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics), and GA (Gambling), as well as many others, have sprung up on the internet using programmes such as zoom or google hangouts. And, despite some media reports to the contrary, addiction treatment centres and rehabs have continued to accept patients. Many also have the facility to provide online recovery programmes for those who simply don’t want to, or don’t feel safe to, travel.

If you think you or a family member has a problem with addiction contact our specialist team on their confidential helpline +34 685 582 150

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