COVID-19 has created great uncertainty for many Australians, particularly in relation to our health, well-being, general feelings of stability and financial security.
DrinkWise spoke with our Ambassador, Dr Andrew Rochford, about the dangers of excessive drinking during self-isolation and under times of extreme stress. Dr Rochford said that some people may be tempted to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, but that it won’t help and may make the situation worse. He emphasised the importance, for those who choose to drink, of drinking in moderation.
Dr Rochford also reminded us that with schools closing and kids at home for extended periods, it is essential that parents continue to be good role models, particularly if choosing to consume alcohol in front of their children.
Dr Rochford features in a series of three videos:
- Drinking in moderation during COVID-19: acknowledging that the implications of COVID-19 can create stress and anxiety, encouraging people not to use alcohol as a short-term fix and reminding Australians to reach out to support one another.
- Parental influence: reminding parents about the importance of being a good role model for their children, especially during social isolation. You can get further information here.
- Australian alcohol guidelines: addressing the importance of moderation during uncertain times, reminding Australians about the alcohol guidelines and urging them to seek help if needed. The recently proposed Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol recommend that Australians should only consume 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks during any one day.
Keeping track of your drinks is important, as alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and serving sizes. This can be harder when having a drink at home, where we often ‘free pour’ rather than using standard measure pours like at pubs and restaurants. You can use the DrinkWise Standard Drinks Calculator to help keep track of how many drinks you have had.
If you are looking for ways to reduce your drinking, there are a number of concrete measures you can take, such as:
- setting yourself limits and sticking to them
- drinking a glass of water or something non-alcoholic between alcoholic drinks
- choosing low or zero alcohol drinks.
If you are concerned about your drinking, or that of someone you know, there are telephone and online counselling services listed here.
The Federal Government’s Head to Health website provides advice about maintaining good mental health during COVID-19.
Beyond Blue has created a dedicated COVID-19 Mental Wellbeing Support Service, funded by the Australian Government. This free service, which includes a 24-hour helpline (1800 512 348), is available to support all people in Australia to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health and wellbeing.
For further information about COVID-19:
- visit the Australian Government Department of Health website
- download the Australian Government mobile app – search “Coronavirus Australia” in the Apple App Store and on Google Play
- access the Australian Government’s WhatsApp alerts by messaging +61 400 253 787 or go to http://aus.gov.au/whatsapp in your web browser.
The Australian Government National Mental Health Commission provides tips for maintaining our mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19:
DrinkWise has also worked with Dr Andrew Rochford to create a series of videos aimed at answering common questions around alcohol consumption during COVID-19, such as:
- Is drinking more in isolation normal?
- Does alcohol weaken your immunity to COVID-19?
- Is it normal to miss the pub?
- Will the kids really take any notice if we are drinking more during isolation?
In addition to this activity, DrinkWise has partnered with the New South Wales Police Force to create resources which acknowledge that while Australians are facing the uncertainty of COVID-19 and potential stress and anxiety of self-isolation, consuming alcohol as a coping mechanism is not the answer.
Through messaging on social media and NSW radio stations, we are encouraging anyone who is concerned about theirs or others’ drinking, to seek help and advice from organisations such as Beyond Blue (1800 512 348), 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) and the Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491).