Alcohol, COVID-19 and you.
COVID-19 has created big change to our usual lives. It’s understandable if you are feeling stressed or anxious.
Some people are telling us it’s tempting to drink more alcohol to deal with the stresses that have resulted in day to day life due to COVID-19. That’s a concern because more drinking means more problems for our health and the health and safety of our whānau. Not only does alcohol weaken our immune system, so we’re less able to fight off COVID-19, it can also worsen our mental health and increase our risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer.
Drink less so you can stay as healthy as you can.
The links below contain more information about the effects of alcohol on your body and your health.
- What happens when you drink alcohol.
- Alcohol and its effects
- Alcohol related health conditions
- Impact on existing health conditions
It might seem tempting to drink more during this stressful time, but it’s not recommended. Alcohol reduces our body’s ability to fight disease (including COVID-19), reduces quality of sleep and can increase your fears and anxieties.
At the moment, it’s important to stay as healthy as possible for ourselves and our families.
Visit the Is your drinking OK? webpage to see if the amount you are drinking is affecting your health and for information on where to get help.
Drinking alcohol will not protect you from catching COVID-19. See Covid19.govt.nz for information on how to protect yourself and others.
The COVID-19 situation has posed extra challenges for most of us, but especially whānau who are affected by harmful alcohol use, whether it is their own or someone else's.
There is concern that the combination of availability of alcohol online and the unusual conditions of lockdown would mean people would drink more and so be at greater risk of alcohol related harm.
We all have a role to play in reducing alcohol related harm and getting through this together. Avoid the temptation to share alcohol related memes which promote alcohol as a way of coping through COVID-19. Reach out and connect with your loved ones with alternatives to these activities.
Te Hiringa Hauora commissioned Nielsen to undertake an online survey to look at the impact of Alert Level 4 conditions on people’s alcohol consumption. The survey was conducted from 7 - 13 April 2020, which corresponded with Alert Level 4 lockdown days 13 to 19.
For information about alcohol licensing during the Covid-19 epidemic notice period please visit our Alcohol Licensing page.
Managing stress, anxiety, or low mood without alcohol
Feeling anxious, stressed, lonely or a bit down after the challenges presented by COVID-19 are normal feelings that most of us will feel over the coming months. Now more than ever we need to stay healthy, look after ourselves and the people around us. Find alternatives to de-stress and to keep mentally well.
- The Getting Through Together website has great tips and advice on how to cope with the stress of COVID-19.
- Check out the Living Sober site for support and ideas about being sober during COVID-19.
- You can find information about wellbeing online include Depression.org, the Lowdown website for youth and the Mental Health Foundation.
- See the COVID-19 website for general tips on looking after your mental wellbeing.
The relationship between alcohol use and mental health is somewhat complicated as heavy or problem drinking can cause some mental health conditions and, conversely, some mental health conditions may cause problematic drinking.
If you’re stressed, anxious or bored try alternatives to drinking alcohol like talking to friends, going for a walk or ringing a support line.
If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with someone close to you. You can also talk to a health professional, such as your GP or your Māori health provider. You can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.
Don't stock up on alcohol. The more you have in the house, the more likely you are to drink. Increased access to alcohol also increases the risk of young people drinking. Monitor your thinking. It's easy to think: "What does it matter if I have an extra one or two?" but any changes to your drinking habits now can become a pattern in the future.
If you or someone you know needs support or treatment to reduce their alcohol intake, contact the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, visit their website, or free text 8681 for confidential advice. Your GP practice can also provide you with advice and support about alcohol use, or you can check out the Living Sober site for support and ideas about being sober. To talk to a health professional, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.
Our "Is your drinking ok?" tool can help you find out more about your level of risk from your drinking, how this affects your health and for information on where to get help.
If you or someone in your household decides to use alcohol or to change their use during this period, look at this information on how to stay safer, manage withdrawal symptoms, support others, and maintain recovery. If you feel unsafe in your home, reach out to someone or visit this website to find the right organisation to call. In an emergency call 111.
Alcohol and Drug services
Alcohol and Drug Helpline (0800 787 797 or text 8681)
Kaupapa Māori treatment providers
Alcohol and drug support operated by the Salvation Army (0800 53 00 00)
Lifeline and other mental health helplines
Depression.org (0800 111 757 or text 4202)
NZ mental health & addictions helpline: free text or call 1737
Thelowdown.org.nz (0800 111 757 or text 5626)
Women’s Refuge Crisisline: 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
Shine Family Violence Helpline: 0508-744-633