Drinking in corona time: better not to

January 11, 2021 / Topical / Corona

Before you took a break, it was corona time. Unfortunately, Dry January is still dominated by the health virus. What influence does corona actually have on our drinking behaviour?

The measures that are being taken and the fear of the new coronavirus have consequences for alcohol use in the Netherlands. For some it leads to an increase in alcohol consumption and an increased risk of alcohol problems, while others drink less. The corona outbreak raises many questions, for example about the extent to which alcohol consumption affects the course of the COVID-19 disease. And whether it is wise to stop drinking.

Has alcohol consumption changed during the corona crisis?

Most people appear to drink as much alcohol during the crisis as they did before the crisis (estimates range from 55%-69%). Some of the people have started drinking less (17,7%-22,1%). There is also a group of people who have just started drinking more (11%- 21,2%). It is striking that a large part of the group that started drinking more during the lockdown, indicated that they still continued to drink more than in the period before the corona crisis. Much is still unclear about this group. For example, it is not clear how much more this group has started drinking and to what extent there is problematic alcohol use.

In the coming years, we will face the emotional, social and economic aftermath of the corona crisis. It is unknown how alcohol consumption will change in the months and years after the corona crisis. Based on previous pandemics, it is expected that a group of people will develop a pattern of problematic alcohol use. For example, during periods of economic recession, an increase in heavy alcohol use is often seen, especially among people who have become unemployed. On the other hand, in general less alcohol is consumed during recessions.

Is it a good idea to stop drinking now?

You are now in your break time, so not drinking is your new normal for now. Should the health crisis continue, what to do with your alcohol consumption? For most people it is wise to stop or cut down on drinking alcohol, especially during this COVID-19 epidemic. It is important at this time to be as fit as possible.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises not to drink alcohol during this COVID-19 epidemic, as alcohol weakens the immune system. Heavy drinking, in particular, undermines the body's ability to fight off infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

Stopping or cutting back on drinking alcohol reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Both chronic conditions are related to a greater chance of a serious course of the coronavirus.

We also have to say: especially during corona it is wise not to drink. So pour yourself a nice spa red, tea or ginger ale and stay home & stay safe!

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