Binge-drinking and job anxiety up among Canadians due to coronavirus

A recent survey suggests that heavy drinking is most prevalent among younger people and those who have anxiety about financial instability due to COVID-19.
Collin Jones The Post Millennial

A recent survey of close to 1,000 Canadians suggests that heavy drinking is most prevalent among younger people and those who have anxiety about financial instability due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The survey, which was conducted between May 8 and 12 and commissioned by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), revealed that close to 30 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 39 reported having a heavy drinking episode at least one time within the past week, according to CP24.

A Statistics Canada report released in 2018 depicted similar data, with the highest proportion of heavy drinking being among those aged 18 to 34, with nearly 29 percent of those in that group reporting binge drinking.

In the CAMH survey orchestrated by research firm Delvinia, almost 24 percent of the total number of respondents reported heavy episodic drinking, or binge drinking, which is considered four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men.

Those who were extremely worried about the impact of the viral disease on their personal finances were more likely to report binge drinking at, 28 percent, with those only "somewhat worried" hovered around 25 percent.

However, researchers at the centre say the results from the recent online survey of English-speaking Canadians could not be chalked up to COVID-19, adding that respondents were not asked about their pre-pandemic drinking habits.

Dr. Hayley Hamilton, senior scientist with the centre's Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, said that the younger respondents likely had pre-existing drinking issues.

She added that alcohol could also be used as a coping mechanism for those who have had their careers put on hold due to the pandemic, creating uncertainty for the future.

Hamilton also said the impact on social lives, with summer activities such as concerts being cancelled, could possibly be a factor, which results in people drinking more than they usually would.

Hamilton made it a point for those who are coping with alcohol to reach out for help.

"If binge drinking continues there are greater concerns because of all the harms associated with alcohol. And we have to think of those harms when we're beyond the epidemic."

Dr. Leslie Buckley, the centre's chief of addictions, said that while it is not known if respondent's drinking habits have changed since the pandemic, it could be assumed that many are drinking their pints and cocktails at home in order to maintain compliance with physical distancing protocols.

She added that this could be a problem for those who are currently unemployed.

"Someone who's not working now, all of a sudden, has seven-day weekends and may have difficulty structuring their time," she said.

Dr. Buckley said there was no evidence to suggest that drinking at home versus drinking while doing regular activities such as hanging out with friends could become habitual.

Women, parents, and younger adults are reported to be more likely to feel anxious and depressed during COVID-19, which comes with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

This suggests that those who have borne the social and economic hardships of the pandemic fare worse than others.

Healthcare workers and others who work a job that exposes them to a higher risk of contracting the virus are reported to feel more lonely compared to other groups.

This means that those who have had to switch from in-office work to at-home work may experience moderate to severe anxiety levels compared with others.

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Collin Jones
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