(Pixabay)

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

A recent survey of about 1,000 Canadians suggests heavy drinking is highest among younger people and those worried about personal finances due to the pandemic.

The survey conducted between May 8 and 12 and commissioned by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health shows nearly 30 per cent of those between 18 and 39 reported heavy episodic drinking at least once in the previous week.

A Statistics Canada report in 2018 reported similar data, saying the highest proportion of heavy drinking was among those aged 18 to 34, with almost 29 per cent of people in that age group reporting binge drinking.

In the CAMH survey run by research firm Delvinia, nearly 24 per cent of the total number of respondents reported heavy episodic drinking, or binge drinking, which for women is considered four or more drinks on one occasion and five or more drinks for men.

Those who are very worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their personal finances were more likely to report binge drinking at 28 per cent, than those who were “somewhat worried” at 25 per cent.

Researchers at the centre say the findings from the recent online survey of English-speaking Canadians can’t be to attributed to COVID-19 and participants were not asked about their pre-pandemic consumption of alcohol.

Dr. Hayley Hamilton, senior scientist with the centre’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, said it’s likely that younger survey respondents had pre-existing issues involving alcohol considering previous findings related to their age group.

But she said alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic, creating unprecedented uncertainty about their future work prospects.

She said the impact on their social lives, with summer activities such as concerts being cancelled, could also be a factor for those who may be lonely and drinking more.

However, she said it’s important for anyone who may be self-medicating by drinking excessively 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 while it’s not known if survey participants’ alcohol consumption changed during COVID-19, it could be assumed drinkers are having their pints and cocktails alone at home, in keeping with physical distancing restrictions.

She said that could be problematic for those who are also unemployed.

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

Buckley said there are no data to suggest drinking at home versus pairing alcohol with regular activities, such as meeting with friends, could become habitual.

Women, parents and younger adults are more likely to feel anxious and depressed during COVID-19, according to the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

It suggests disadvantaged groups, including those that have borne the social and economic burdens of the pandemic, are faring worse than others.

Health-care workers and others who have a job that exposes them to a higher risk of getting COVID-19 are more likely to report feeling lonely compared with other groups, according to the survey.

It suggests those who have switched to working from home are more likely to have moderate to severe anxiety levels compared with others.

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read