Addiction services in England could struggle to cope with "soaring" numbers of people misusing alcohol, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned today. Many adults are drinking more since the coronavirus pandemic began, data shows. 
 
The college estimates that in June, more than 8.4m people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8m in February. 
 
If you’re aware you’re drinking more, perhaps now is the time to stop and think about why, and we may have the answer for you. 
Are you drinking too much

Burying feelings with drink as a coping mechanism 

Cast your mind back to your childhood. If you were upset about something, were you distracted from it by a biscuit from your parent or carer ‘to feel better’? If that pattern of behaviour sounds familiar, or you watched an adult turn to drink to deal with a crisis, guess what? You have learned to replace your negative or sad feelings with something else. The sad or negative feelings didn’t go away, you were just distracted from them or buried them, and the energy from them was stored up inside. In times of upset or crisis, we turn to our old and learned ideas to deal with our feelings. 
 
We’re all grieving the loss of our normal lives, our safety, our health, and our families. Many of us are turning to our old and learned ideas with how to deal with our feelings! 
Numbing with alcohol

Numbing yourself during Lockdown 

Have you been hiding or burying your feelings during Lockdown under alcohol, and carried on drinking since? Other common short-term energy relievers are food, exercise, fantasy (films, books), isolation, online shopping, throwing yourself into work, cleaning, gaming… While these actions aren’t harmful in themselves, they can become harmful if you ‘keep busy’ with them for the long term, as they’re distracting you from dealing with how you’re really feeling. 

What to Do Instead 

We’re all human, so we deal with feelings of discomfort in the way we know how. We’re not telling you to feel bad about your drinking behaviour – it’s important right now that we be patient and compassionate with ourselves. But it is helpful to become aware of what you are doing. 
 
Feel free to share with us any behaviours that you’ve been using to ‘keep busy’ or write them down, or even tell a friend who you trust how you’re really feeling. Now that you’ve recognised your behaviours, you may catch yourself next time (“Do I really need a drink or am I just bored or feeling bad about something?”). You may still reach for the bottle, but maybe you’ll think about it first. The goal, of course, is to feel better – and chances are a chat with a friend will be more comforting than that glass of wine, gin, or beer. 
Tagged as: Global Events
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