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Battle with the bottle: Covid led to huge spike in alcohol problems

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The number of calls to alcohol support services in 2021 was triple that made before the Covid-19 pandemic.

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A new report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education blames the surge on higher levels of stress and anxiety, as well as boredom and isolation during lockdown.

Parents, the unemployed or people with insecure jobs were all more likely to drink during the pandemic.

The report released on Friday shows Australians made 25,000 calls to the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline last year, compared to about 7800 calls in 2019.

Research director Luke Hutchins said the psychological impacts of coronavirus had been linked to more risky drinking.

“The demand for help will not go away just because restrictions have eased,” Hutchins said.

“The effects of the pandemic have been felt deeply at all levels of our community and will continue to be felt for years to come.”

The report points to an Australian National University study from 2020 which found about one in five people had increased how much they drank.

About one in four actually decreased the amount they drank while about one in two Australians drank the same amount.

The foundation urges further monitoring of how people are drinking, as well as keeping a close eye on the use of online booze delivery and the boosting of women’s support services – with alcohol a dominant factor in domestic violence.

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