People across Bath and North East Somerset who have turned to alcohol as a way of coping with the coronavirus pandemic are being reassured support is available to address their excess drinking.

New figures estimate that the number of people across the country drinking at high-risk levels almost doubled during the first lockdown.

During Alcohol Awareness Week, B&NES Council has been helping to raise awareness of the link between excess drinking and our mental health, and is encouraging people to seek support from local treatment services if they are struggling.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and in the midst of another lockdown, it’s not getting any easier. A poll by Alcohol Change UK, released earlier this year, showed that more than a quarter (28%) of people who have ever drunk alcohol thought they been drinking more during lockdown. As lockdown eased over the summer, two in three (66%) expected to continue drinking as they had been during lockdown (49%), or even drink more (17%).

What’s more, one in five (19%) of those surveyed said they had drunk alcohol as a way to handle stress or anxiety during lockdown. Of those who drank more heavily during lockdown (nine plus units on each drinking day), 40% had drunk as a response to stress or anxiety.

It’s a worrying trend that is growing. The Royal College of Psychiatristse stimates that in June, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8 million in February 2020.