Britain faces a surge in alcohol-related health issues after COVID-19
Britain is facing a surge in alcohol-related health problems following the coronavirus pandemic due to an increase in alcohol abuse during lockdown, medical experts warn
- Tackling harm from alcohol post-lockdown must be a priority, the experts wrote
- Before lockdown, sales of alcohol were seen to shoot up by around 67 per cent
- People with pre-existing problems with alcohol and those on the brink are at risk
- Experts warned alcoholic liver disease cases will have increased post-lockdown
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Britain is facing a surge in alcohol-related health problems following COVID-19 due to an increase in alcohol abuse during lockdown, medical experts have warned.
Tackling harms from alcohol — which could have knock-on effects for a generation — must be an ‘integral’ part of the nation’s recovery, they said.
Before the United Kingdom went into lockdown, alcohol sales shot up by around 67 per cent, with many subsequently drinking at home in isolation.
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Britain is facing a surge in alcohol-related health problems following COVID-19 due to an increase in alcohol abuse during lockdown, medical experts have warned
The warning was written in an editorial in the The BMJ penned by Baroness Ilora Finlay, chairwoman of the Commission on Alcohol Harms, and Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance.
‘Now, as signs emerge of some control over new cases of COVID-19, it is increasingly clear that if we don’t prepare for emerging from the pandemic, we will see the toll of increased alcohol harm for a generation,’ they wrote.
They added that the pandemic ‘has the potential to be an exemplar of our ambivalent relationship with alcohol and its consequences.’
People with pre-existing problems with alcohol and those on the ‘brink’ of dependence are at particular risk, they warned.
For these vulnerable people, they added, ‘dependence will be triggered by bereavement, job insecurity or troubled relationships.’
‘Before COVID-19, only one in five harmful and dependent drinkers got the help they need; the proportion will be even lower now.’
The number of people with alcoholic liver disease was increasing before the crisis, and will rise further as a result, the experts predicted.
Alcohol treatment services will also see a surge in demand, they said.
Before the United Kingdom went into lockdown, alcohol sales shot up by around 67 per cent, with many subsequently drinking at home in isolation
The duo also raised concerns around how alcohol consumption is linked to domestic violence, highlighting the increase in the number of calls to domestic violence charities at the start of lockdown.
‘Tackling alcohol harms is an integral part of the nation’s recovery,’ they concluded.
The editorial was published in the journal The BMJ.
WHAT IS ALCOHOLISM AND HOW IS IT TREATED IN THE UK?
Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits.
It is organised into three categories: mild, moderate and severe. Each category has various symptoms and can cause harmful side effects.
If left untreated, any type of alcohol abuse can spiral out of control.
Individuals struggling with alcoholism often feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol.
This can lead to a wide range of issues and impact professional goals, personal matters, relationships and overall health.
Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol abuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface.
When alcohol addiction is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increases significantly.
Common signs of alcoholism include:
- Being unable to control alcohol consumption
- Craving alcohol when you’re not drinking
- Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
- Feeling the need to keep drinking more
- Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
- Behaving differently after drinking
Short-term effects of alcohol abuse can be just as dangerous as long-term effects.
For instance, drinking can impact your reaction time, causing you to have slow reflexes and coordination.
That’s why drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. Getting behind the wheel of a car can alter your perception of speed and distance, putting yourself and others at risk.
Several short-term effects of alcohol abuse may produce:
- Slow reaction time
- Poor reflexes
- Reduce brain activity
- Lowered inhibitions
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty breathing
Additionally, consuming too much alcohol can affect your long-term health. Some side effects may lay dormant for years before they surface.
Because of this, professional medical care is required for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Long-term health conditions caused by alcohol:
- Brain defects
- Liver disease
- Diabetes complications
- Heart problems
- Increased risk of cancer
- Vision damage
- Bone loss
Treatment for Alcoholism
There are different forms of treatment available based on frequency and severity of alcohol abuse.
Recovering from alcohol addiction is a process that continues long after rehab.
It takes commitment to practice and apply the techniques you learn in rehab, counseling, support groups and other types of therapy.
Although every individual will have their own recovery plan that’s tailored to their specific needs, treatment generally follows a structure.
Alcohol treatment is broken into three sections, consisting of:
The first stage in alcohol addiction recovery is detoxification. This phase should be completed with the help of medical professionals due to the potential for serious, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Many times, individuals are given a medication to help alleviate the painful side effects of a withdrawal.
There are two types of rehabilitation that help treat alcoholism: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehabs are intensive treatment programs that require you to check into a facility for a certain period of time, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. Outpatient rehab allows individuals to participate in a recovery program while continuing with their daily life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options to determine which form of recovery will best fit your needs.
The recovery process doesn’t end with the completion of rehab. Long-term sobriety requires ongoing therapy and may entail support groups, counseling and other recovery resources. These will make sure you maintain sobriety and continue on a happy, healthy path for months and years to come.
Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide
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