People coping with a family member’s drug use, drinking or gambling have been hard hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a new survey from Adfam. Around 5 million people are thought to be dealing with the negative effects of loved one’s alcohol or drug use in the UK, with 85% of respondents to the survey saying the lockdown had made a ‘bad situation worse’. Many of these people will need urgent additional support as lockdown conditions ease, warns Adfam.

The charity that works to improve the lives of families affected by drugs or alcohol said half of the respondents to its families in lockdown survey said the situation had had a negative impact on their own mental health. In addition, 28% said they were experiencing more verbal abuse than usual and 13% admitted to being concerned for their safety. Nearly 5% said they had experienced more physical abuse during lockdown.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA) said it had faced a surge in calls from young people stuck in toxic and abusive households during the lockdown. NACOA is concerned about a lack of safety nets for vulnerable children whilst in isolation.

Addictions increase under lockdown

Almost 50% of responders to the Adfam survey stated that their loved one’s substance use or gambling had increased during the lockdown period. Just under one-third reported that the person had either relapsed or their recovery was at risk.

“At least one in ten of us are currently affected by a loved one’s drinking, drug taking or gambling problem”, said Adfam Chief Executive Vivienne Evans. “Our survey shows that this unrecognised and hidden problem has been made worse by the lockdown.”

When you are already isolated, fearful or in poor mental and physical health, lockdown takes an even bigger toll, says Ms Evans. When restrictions ease, people are going to need help and support to recover.

“Now more than ever, we need a national conversation about how we can help people to cope with the life-long impacts of a loved one’s alcohol, drug or gambling problem.”

If you are concerned about a family member’s drinking or drug habits, or require testing for the family law courts, AlphaBiolabs can provide a number of drug and alcohol testing solutions including continuous alcohol monitoring. For more information, please call 0333 600 1300 or email us at