The number of Britons with alcohol consumption considered dangerous has increased sharply since the start of the pandemic, according to government figures published on Monday, raising fears of entrenched habits for a long time.
The government’s Office for Improving Health and Inequalities has used data from pollster YouGov to determine how many people in England drink harmful wine, beer and spirits considered high risk .
Based on a sample of 1,700 people, 18.1% of adults – representing nearly eight million people – were subject in October 2021 to such consumption during the previous three months.
This concerned only 11.9% of the adult population – or around five million people – in October 2019, and 12.4% – six million people – in February 2020, just before the first confinements in Europe.
This level of consumption is determined according to the quantities of alcohol ingested, but also the frequency, the feeling of guilt or the consequences on social activities.
This excessive consumption concerns more men than women, but the increase is in greater proportion among the latter (increased from 1.6 to 2.3 million, against 4 to 5.5 million among men).
According to Julia Sinclair, chair of the addictions section of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, alcohol consumption rose sharply during the pandemic because “we were limited in what else we could do”, but also because “some people who never drank, except when they went to the pub, took up drinking at home” due to their closure.
The problem ? It has now “become a habit”, and “certain habits are taking hold”, she warned, very pessimistic about a return to pre-pandemic levels. “So far, the data suggests that people who started drinking at home are continuing and drinking on top of that” in bars.
This is compounded by the fact that, unlike the pub, drinking at home “can go on for hours,” the researcher added.