What happened to your drinking in lockdown? Mine intensified at an alarming rate. If I had ever worried about how much I drank before then that seemed like nothing compared to what I was drinking now. I know for a fact that I am not alone in this, a recent report from Channel 4 revealed that alcohol was responsible for more deaths in the last year than at any point in the past 20 years•
It was like we were suddenly on holiday and what do we do on holiday?. We drink of course. And what is the rule about drinking alcohol on holiday? Well, we can start at any time we like. Add to that the beautiful weather that we experienced and it was a perfect storm.
I used to watch a well-known celebrity on Instagram who would have a wine every day in lockdown at 4pm, it was treated like a hilarious joke that everyone was encouraged to join in with. Now, this wasn’t an issue for her, but for someone like me, it was like I was given permission to drink then too. Unlike her, I did not stop at one drink at 4pm. Nope, this was me kicking off my drinking for the day.
We would have work zoom calls at lunchtime on a Friday, where everyone would have a beer or a glass of wine and chat. I remember one of those calls went on for so long that I fell asleep. I was horrified that I had done this in front of colleagues, but I wasn’t the only one. I don’t think anyone could really remember the end of the call.
It was all treated as a jolly jape. Like some crazy adventure, we were all taking part in. People were bragging about how early they were drinking now. They were joking about how much alcohol they were getting through in a week. Our local bottle bank was littered with extra bottles. It was so bad that our local council had to issue a warning that if you were caught leaving bottles on the floor when the bins were full, it would be treated as fly-tipping and you would be fined. It wasn’t like our recycling collections had stopped. So these were all of the extra bottles that people were drinking at that time.
People started building bars in their gardens and stocking them like actual bars, with beer pumps and spirits mounted on the walls like you would have in a real pub. Again, it was the holiday feeling, we might be at home but look at us having fun! The problem with bars in your garden is that they never close. Therefore people were drinking more. The alcohol is cheaper too, so the need to be careful due to expense was removed.
For the first time ever my husband and I started buying our alcohol in bulk from Costco. We would buy 24 bottles of wine at a time and they would not last anywhere near as long as they should have.
We would do pub quizzes online, where everyone drank alcohol, it was all part of the experience. We were drinking to be sociable after all, nothing wrong with that was there?. The answer was a resounding yes. It felt like we had created a culture around lockdown and alcohol. The two were intertwined and we drank to get through it, it was dangerous. I had one friend who drank every single day in lockdown and he drank vast amounts. No one thought it was unusual, people said he was bored, what else was there to do?
It became much worse for me when I was furloughed. I would drink far too much at night and then spend most of the next day homeschooling, feeling awful and then lying in the garden until we could drink again. I gained loads of weight, gained health issues I had not experienced before and was generally a mess.
Luckily for me, I decided enough was enough during the lockdown and actually managed to give up alcohol for a month until we were free again. I knew that I couldn’t carry on like I was and I needed to put myself and my family first.
However, when the Christmas lockdown started my drinking went back to those levels again. I used the incentive of dry January and both my husband and I gave up for most of that lockdown too, with me eventually quitting for good in June.
We are now seeing the fallout of that crazy time. And the drinkers who were in the grey area before, but who due to loneliness, boredom, isolation or extra time on their hands, tipped over to much more problematic drinking. Can we really be surprised that alcohol deaths have soared in this country? The way we drank changed. We were drinking to get drunk, not to be sociable. Those new habits don’t change overnight.
All those ‘hilarious’ memes around drinking during lockdown, don’t seem quite so funny now that reality has struck.
Did your alcohol levels rise during lockdown? What can be done to help the current situation, are we doing enough? I’d love to hear your thoughts.