Study finds one in five Canadians drinking more alcohol during COVID-19

Published On July 14, 2020 | By Kajal Pawar | COVID-19, News
Isolated young adults are drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kajal Mangesh Pawar)

Kajal Pawar

The pandemic isolation has led to increased intake of alcohol among a fifth of Canadians, according to a recent study.

The study by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found 20 per cent of isolated Canadians are drinking more alcohol during COVID-19.

Eight per cent of the findings stated on at least one occasion they were not able to stop once they started drinking, according to the study.

The survey of 1,009 Canadians found one in five are drinking more and that 29 per cent of Canadians aged between 18 and 34 were more likely to drink more often, compared to the 13 per cent aged 55 and older.

One in five Canadians staying at home more reported drinking more in May than in April, according to the survey.

Nanos contacted Canadians over 18 randomly by telephone between May 26 and 28. The survey reports a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20

Canadians consume more alcohol than the worldwide average. The 2017 World Health Statistics reported Canadians older than 15 consumed 10 litres of pure alcohol per capita — about 3.6 times more than the world average.

Bryce Barker, an expert in alcohol and low-risk drinking guidelines with the Canadian Centre of Substance Use and Addiction, said “in a lot of the research, what we see is that people under the age of 35 are actually increasing their drinking more than adults over the age of 55.”

The reasons given for increased consumption include stress, boredom, or lack of a regular schedule, he said via a Zoom interview.

Vulnerabilities regarding mental health issues were shown to be more pronounced among young adults during the onset of the pandemic, according to the press release by the Canadian Red Cross. 

The Red Cross cited a Pan Canadian study done by the Canadian Red Cross has concluded nearly half of young adults also reported feeling more anxious, restless or uneasy during the three days prior to the survey.

“It’s an odd time and people are social animals and with all the changes from the pandemic, a lot of people are feeling more loneliness, more stress, more anxiety,” Barker said.

He said “staying active, staying busy and connected with friends and loved ones” can be some positive ways of coping with these feelings.

Bryce Barker, Canadian Centre of Substance Use and Addiction, offered tips to help moderate drinking patterns. (Screen grab by Kajal Mangesh Pawar)

Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines and Knowing your limits by CCSA are resources people can use to understand limits with alcohol. 

“It (the resource) is always there,” Barker said. “So any month can be a month where you take some time off. For a lot of people, it can be helpful to re-examine their patterns with alcohol and rethink.”

He shared some practical tips to moderate drinking habits.

“Maybe you’re drinking alcohol but you would just be satisfied with a tea or another type of evening drink and it just became a pattern and a habit that you’re not even really enjoying,” he said.

Limited exposure to media coverage about the pandemic is important for healthy mental beings, he said.

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