(Image: Unsplash/Guillermo Nolasco)

A quick glance at the latest stats may show a staggering increase in alcohol consumption in Australia, or, in simpler terms, paint a picture of a country drinking itself silly. 

According to a poll carried out by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, 70% of Australians admit to drinking more alcohol than they would have prior to the pandemic and 34% say they are drinking alcohol every day.

Most of us noticed fewer packets of toilet paper in the shops, then came panic buying of cupboard carbs. Next, we started to notice our fellow Australians looking like they were en route to hosting a music festival, given the amount of alcohol in their trolleys. 

Data from around the time the coronavirus lockdown started from Commbank shows alcohol sales in supermarkets grew by 20%, while alcohol sales in bottle shops grew by a whopping 36.8% during the first few weeks of lockdown. 

This corresponded with a 6% drop in spending on alcohol served at pubs and hotels, as venues across the country started to close their doors.

According to Commsec, alcohol sales from bottle shops rose by 25% over the last six weeks and have been consistently increasing since the beginning of May. 

FARE, which polled 1,045 Australian residents over the age of 18, found: 

  • 32% of respondents are concerned about the volume of alcohol either they or someone else in their home is drinking
  • 28% of respondents say they drink alcohol to deal with anxiety and/or stress
  • 28% of respondents say they have been drinking alcohol on their own more than they would have previously
  • 20% of respondents say that they have started drinking earlier in the day. 

While figures have not been released on exactly how much Australians are drinking on a weekly basis, the fact that one in three find themselves drinking on a daily basis, and almost one-third of Australians drink to cope with emotional distress, does not paint a positive picture for the state of alcohol consumption in Australia. 

Guidelines set out by the National Health and Medical Research Council advise Australians to have no more than 10 standard drinks per week. (A glass of wine, 100ml or under, counts as one standard drink, which likely comes as a shock to the majority of us).

Australians are also advised to have at least one alcohol-free day per week. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously affected our alcohol consumption but it may have also changed the way we view alcohol. Once a social lubricant, it seems for some, alcohol is now being used as a means of dealing with the fact we can’t be social at all. 

If you are concerned about yours or a loved one’s alcohol consumption, visit DrinkWise for helpful resources and who to contact. 

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