Alcohol and COVID-19

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2020 11:18am

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in a lot of changes to daily routines and way of life. Staying at home and not being able to socialise in the ways we are used to are just a couple of these changes.

How much and when we drink may have changed as well.

But drinking more alcohol does us more harm than good.

What happens when we drink more?

  • Our immune system is lowered increasing the risk of illness and infection. This includes infections such as COVID-19.
  • We may become anxious, depressed or agitated.
  • Our sleep can be disrupted and we are more likely to wake up during the night. This may include snoring and more trips to the toilet.
  • Drinking more alcohol over time eventually leads to needing more alcohol to feel relaxed. This can also lead to dependence on alcohol.

What are the other risks?

  • Sharing drinks can increase the spread of COVID-19.
  • Parents/carers may role model unhealthy drinking behaviour to children.
  • Drinking alcohol can decrease our level of patience and may increase the risk of arguments, misunderstanding and family violence.
  • Drinking alcohol can lead to an increase in accidents placing additional pressure on the health care system. Health care services will be stretched as COVID-19 spreads.

What can you do to look after yourself?

  • Try to stay within the NHMRC draft alcohol guidelines of no more than four standard drinks in any one day and no more than ten a week.
  • Avoid temptations to stock up on alcohol. Reconsider if you need to have alcohol home delivered (see ATDC delivering alcohol responsibly during COVID-19 for further advice).
  • Aim to have at least two consecutive days alcohol free.
  • Find other ways to relax, unwind or celebrate. Choose non-alcoholic drinks like sparkling mineral water, soda water, non-alcoholic wines and beers, milk and herbal teas.
  • Try to keep to normal work routines (e.g. avoid drinking alcohol during your normal work hours).
  • When catching up with family and friends online, try to vary plans so you are not always “catching up for a drink”. There are many online games you can play with your friends.
  • Be mindful of how you are feeling and try to avoid using alcohol to cope with boredom, loneliness or stress.
  • Look after your physical and mental health by exercising often, eating well, sleeping well and staying connected with family and friends.
  • Watch out for your friends and family and suggest other ways to celebrate and wind down.

Where to get help for yourself and others