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The UKs current alcohol situation

Posted by Martin Preston
on 12 Nov 2020

Number of people drinking at high risk levels nearly doubles during lockdown

Friends drinking cocktails and wearing covid masks

With England in its second Covid-19 lockdown, deaths from substance misuse and addiction are expected to rise.

Many poles have been conducted on the amount of alcohol we have been consuming during the lockdown period. The results of various studies on how much we are drinking during the pandemic are very mixed to say the least.

Whilst Public Health England’s WICH tool indicates:

  • That there is a rise in the proportions of both non-drinkers and higher risk drinkers
  • There are similar proportions of people drinking more than before and less than before (1)

The College of Royal Psychologists, who have intensively analysed PHE’s data, say that the effects of Covid-19 have led to more than 8.4 million people drinking at higher risk levels. This is a huge increased on the 4.8 million recorded in February just prior to the lockdown (2)

What is known about the UKs current alcohol situation is that:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic is causing a wider impact on those who already have a problem with alcohol or drugs.  
  • Covid restrictions are negatively affecting those who are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction due to very limited face to face meetings and their irregularity
  • The UKs most vulnerable problematic drug and alcohol users are experiencing difficulty accessing treatment and support through technology
  • Those who are alcohol dependent are currently receiving little or no treatment
  • Families and carers of those that are affected by an alcohol related illness are also receiving little or no support

At Delamere’s addiction treatment and behavioural wellness facility we are proud that we have been able to offer full inpatient treatment services whilst still adhering to covid safe measures. 

If you or a loved one would like to know more about how we at Delamere can help with a drug or alcohol problem, please call and speak to a member of our supportive team today.

Need help?
Call us confidentially at any time to speak to a member of our team.

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UK’s Alcohol Health Alliance’s survey paints grim picture for alcoholics

The Alcohol Health Alliance survey for August 2020 shows that a broad spectrum of people affected by addiction are struggling to access the support they desperately need. 

The limits imposed on free drug and alcohol treatment available are affecting not only those who need treatment for a drug or alcohol problem but also those who are in recovery. 

‘We need to get live meetings back. A lot of people in recovery need to be amongst like-minded people. Zoom meetings are not as supportive’ – participant in recovery quoted from UK Alcohol Health Alliance survey 

A participant who is trying to manage/reduce their drinking, specifically since the Covid-19 lock down also reported their experience to The Alcohol Health Alliances August 2020 survey. They said:

Quickly during lockdown I got in the habit of drinking every day. I’ve given myself a good talking to and now try to limit to weekends. I’ve noticed how it affects my mood negatively so am keen to cut back’ 

It is not only those that suffer from a substance misuse problem that are struggling to access help and support. A parent/carer of a child with FASD (3) (Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) was quoted by the Alcohol Heath Alliance. They said:

‘All services have withdrawn support which included resources; we desperately need OT (occupational therapy) / sensory equipment made available to us’’

Those who need treatment or support for a substance misuse problem have never felt more alone and abandoned. With treatment engagement levels down, drug and alcohol teams are very limited in the support that they can offer. 

addiction recovery group together

Substance misuse professionals express concern over lack of face to face support available

It has long been recognised in the addiction treatment field that those who need treatment and those who are in recovery benefit most from face to face therapy and support. Remote support simply does not have the same engagement levels or success in treating addiction.

Professionals working in the drug and alcohol treatment field are very concerned, not only of the long term implications of their limited services but also the effect covid-19 restrictions are having on those that need help urgently. 

Quotes from professionals working in the drug and alcohol treatment field, taken from the Alcohol Health Alliances August 2020 report included:

‘I work in drug and alcohol services and I was appalled to find out that no referrals to residential rehab were being considered by local councils even though the rehabs were open. 

Some people NEED residential treatment, but the government’s line is that community treatment is just as good. It really saddens me that they have this approach’ 

Another professional working in the substance misuse field was quoted saying:

‘Many service users do not have access to the internet or/and a suitable device to access ongoing support. This discriminates and puts the most vulnerable Service Users at a very distinct disadvantage. 

I realise that the pandemic has come around quickly… [however]… all need to be included if this is how

services intend to work in the future. We will be failing many in our communities if this is not dealt with


Further concern was expressed by another alcohol treatment professional around the lack of face to face services available for those that are most vulnerable. They said:

‘Working in an alcohol care team in an acute hospital it has been difficult to support people when community services are not seeing clients face to face despite pandemic moving into next phase’

Alcohol services will be overwhelmed post covid predict Royal College of Psychiatrists

Based on the data collated and analysed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, post Covid will see the true impact that restricted services have had on the UK’s most vulnerable problem drinkers.

They predict that drug and alcohol services and the NHS will be ill prepared for the new wave of problematic alcohol drinkers. 

Based on their statistics, the current services available will be unable to cope. This will only result in a worsening of the situation and undoubtedly a rise in alcohol related deaths.

At Delamere we are truly concerned how the ongoing pandemic is affecting those that suffer from a substance misuse disorder. Whilst our services are not free, guests who choose to undergo treatment with us receive a full range of bespoke face to face evidence based treatments. 

We know how important face to face therapy and treatment is when it comes to treating addiction. Unlike the NHS, we have implemented strategies to keep our guests safe whilst still delivering outstanding levels of care and treatment. 

We can only hope that the NHS start to implement more effective strategies to help those suffering in the community

Need help?
Call us confidentially at any time to speak to a member of our team.

Call us now: 0330 111 2015


  1. Wider impacts of COVID-19 on health monitoring tool [Internet]. GOV.UK. 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 2]. Available from: https://bit.ly/2SrR0Fp
  2. UK’s Alcohol Health Alliance Bulletin October 2020 – https://ahauk.org/october2020/Public Health England. 
  3. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder facts  https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/facts.html

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin created Delamere in order to provide exemplary care in first class facilities. Find out more about Martin on our team page.

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