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Figures from the health charities Alcohol Focus Scotland and Alcohol Change UK suggest that more than one million adults in Scotland are drinking more than they were before lockdown measures were introduced. Alcohol sales have jumped by 31% across the whole of the UK.

Across Scotland, almost one-third of people who drank alcohol four or more times per week have increased their intake, while just one-fifth of this group have reduced their intake. In contrast, half of those who drank once a month or less have cut down.

One in five of those who have been drinking more in the last few weeks reported the negative impact that this is having on their lives. Almost one-third said that it has made their mental health worse.

Conversely, around a third of those who have cut down say it’s helped their mental and physical health. A similar level said their energy levels and sleep quality have improved.

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Many people drink alcohol to relax, forget their problems and combat feelings of stress, but as many people are seeing, it’s not always the best coping mechanism. As well as affecting our sleep, drinking alcohol can make it more difficult to manage our negative thoughts and feelings and increase our levels of anxiety.”

Ms Douglas also pointed out that over the longer term, regularly drinking over 14 units a week can cause more serious health problems, increasing the risk of cancer, stroke and liver disease.

“It’s positive to see many people taking active steps to manage their drinking such as having alcohol-free days, not buying a lot of alcohol at one time, or stopping completely. But it’s those who are at greatest risk who are finding it harder to cut down”, she said.

Earlier this week, interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith highlighted how alcohol can reduce the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious disease and impact the heart and lungs. He added that “choosing to cut back on how much you drink will reduce of complications linked to coronavirus”.

Earlier this month, extra support for people affected by alcohol and drug use during the coronavirus pandemic was announced by the Scottish government.

If people are drinking at home, it’s a good idea to try and keep track of how much you’re drinking, stay within the low-risk limits of 14 units a week, and try to make sure you have alcohol-free days, said Ms Douglas.

As well as dampening the immune system, alcohol consumption can also contribute to poor sleep and increased blood sugar levels. It can also increase levels of inflammation and compromise gut health. Good quality sleep has been recommended as warding off the risk of getting coronavirus.

AlphaBiolabs can provide a number of alcohol testing solutions including continuous alcohol monitoring. We also have a Walk in Centre located at Glasgow Medical Rooms at 211 St Vincent Street. For information on this and our other alcohol testing services, please contact us on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com