Only one in five harmful drinkers received the professional support they needed before the Covid-19 crisis
By Ian Hamilton; @ian_hamilton
One of the safest predictions you could have made about the way we’d try to cope with Covid-19 is that we’d drink more alcohol.
This drug is so embedded in our society and psyche that we don’t think of it as a drug at all. Of all the drugs available to us, including illicit ones such as heroin and cocaine, alcohol ranks as one of the most dangerous to us individually and as a society. We’d rather have the gratification of a drink today than go without in order to protect our long-term health. This short-term thinking was also reflected in government priorities when they classified off-licences as “essential services” so they could ensure the nation’s need for alcohol wasn’t threatened. Not a single government minister has talked about the risks alcohol poses to health during the coronavirus outbreak.
Alcohol is a sneaky drug; most of the health problems, such as liver disease, take time to develop. A physical or psychological dependence on the drug also takes time, unlike crack cocaine or opiates, where dependence can take hold in weeks rather than years.