A survey, conducted by the Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD), to assess how the drinking patterns have altered in the last three years, shows an increased use of alcohol among women. The survey attributes this trend to COVID19 pandemic, the ensuing lockdown and post lockdown, as well as the increased availability of alcohol.
Stressful events in life often lead to with higher levels of alcohol consumption. This was seen during 2003 SARS epidemic – quarantined people used alcohol as a coping mechanism. This resulted in alcohol abuse that continued for at least three years after the outbreak.
Similar thing happened during the Covid19 pandemic, which significantly affected the collective mental health. For many people, social disconnection, financial strain, increased obligations in the home and ongoing uncertainty created distress – and with it, a need for new ways of coping.
“Data suggests women were drinking at higher levels than usual during the pandemic, more so than men and those reporting heavy episodic drinking before the pandemic tended to increase their use during the period. Also, the effects of drinking to forget one’s worries seemed more prominent among women which, research suggests, were disproportionate to the distress men were experiencing,” says CADD Founder Prince Singhal. “This trend has likely continued even as we have slowly started moving towards normalization with several other factors contributing to it,” he adds.
The survey was conducted among 5,000 women in Delhi in the age group of 18-68 years. Some of the key points that the survey threw are:
37.6 per cent women agreed that their alcohol consumption has increased – for 42.3 per cent the increase was sporadic and occasional.
45.7 per cent attributed the increase to stress; 34.4 per cent to increased availability and 30.1 per cent to boredom.
38.1 per cent agreed to consuming alcohol twice a week while 19.1 per cent consume it more than four days a week.
Although as compared to men less women drink regularly but almost seven per cent admitted to risky or harmful drinking. While 36.7 per cent women had 1-2 drinks 34.9 per cent women agreed to having 3-4 drinks per session; 28.4 per cent women said that they have about four drinks or more in one session.
The pandemic pushed many women into a difficult mental and emotional state starting from loneliness, caregiver load, with women almost three times more likely than men to be looking after children full-time, managing household chores and professional responsibilities on their own during Covid19.
Loss of jobs, incidents of physical and mental abuse also increased during the pandemic, which added to the mental health burden for women during Covid19.
Change in government policies such as home delivery, swanky stores and BOGO offers, pushed sales, thus increasing availability and consumption in households.