A research revealed that Britons drank alcohol more than usual during the lockdown, but there was a rise in the number of people who gave up smoking cigarettes.

Drinking to cope

One in six people admitted to excessive drinking at least once a week in April 2020, which was considered the darkest days of the pandemic. The proportion of people who turned to alcohol four or more times a week also increased from 14% to 22%.

During the lockdown, members of the public were banned from meeting anyone who did not live with them, and massive chunks of the workforce were furloughed, while restaurants, pubs, shops and gyms were all closed.

The findings of the research were based on surveys of more than 27,000 Brits, the research was done by the University of Glasgow.

They say people consumed alcohol to alleviate the distress of lockdown and have urged ministers to consider this when rolling back restrictions this winter, according to The Guardian.

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However, while Britons are drinking more, it also shows that they are smoking less. Around 20% of smokers gave up the habit in April 2020, possibly because people with respiratory issues were highlighted as being most at risk of COVID-19, which attacks the lungs.

Overall across all age groups, binge drinking increased from 10.8% to 16.2%. The study did not differentiate between the type of alcoholic drinks that were consumed or their strengths.

But the research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found the biggest increase in was seen in those aged 25 to 44.

Before the pandemic, about 12% of people in the age group admitted to binge-drinking weekly. This increased to almost a fifth by the last week of April.

There was also a sharp rise among 44 to 64-year-olds, with 18% admitting to bringing on booze at least once a week in April compared to 13% prior to the crisis.

The rate remained stable in the youngest age group, aged 18 to 24 years old, and only increased slightly over those who are 65 years old and above, according to The Daily Mail.

Mental health

The increased alcohol consumption coincided with a rise in psychological distress, according to the data. Almost a third of people struggled with their mental health in the first month of lockdown, compared to 19% the previous year.

This increase was most pronounced among working-aged people, with rates rising from 23% to 37%. During the strictest days of lockdown, people were deprived of social contact, and hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost, which fueled the rise in mental health problems and looking for ways to cope.

As for the Asian minority ethnic groups, they also experienced a massive increase in psychological distress, from 18.7% to 34.9% over the same period, although the reasons for this psychological distress in the Asian community are unclear.

Dr. Claire Niedzwiedz from the University of Glasgow's Institute of Health and Well-being said that understanding the health impact of the lockdown is important, as further periods of physical distancing are likely to be necessary in many countries for some time, especially as the risk of further waves of infection remains.

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