For many Brits, the lockdown has meant drinking more alcohol to deal with the stress and fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.
And for others, it has provided the opportunity to cut down on booze, and lead a healthier lifestyle.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the number of people drinking at high-risk levels has almost doubled since just before the start of lockdown.
It is estimated that 8.4 million people drank high-risk amounts of alcohol in June, up from 4.8 million people just four months earlier.
The latest episode of the Alone Together podcast takes a look at our drinking habits – and ways we can cut down on our alcohol intake.
Jennifer Walters, director of communications at alcohol education charity Drinkaware, expresses her concerns about the rise of people drinking more alcohol during the lockdown.
Research from Drinkaware shows that between a fifth and a quarter of UK adults are drinking more alcohol since the beginning of the lockdown.
She tells the podcast that people on furlough, people with at least one child, and young adults between 18 and 34 are more likely to be drinking more.
She said: “At Drinkaware, we are really concerned that patterns like this could become – and perhaps in some cases, have become – ingrained, leading to increased tolerance to alcohol and in some cases, potential dependence.
“These figures really do need to be taken seriously.”
Jennifer adds: “The important thing to remember is that if you or someone you care about is drinking more than usual at the moment, it is absolutely not too late to cut down or find support to help you.”
She suggests having at least three drink-free days every week, as well as experimenting with alcohol-free drinks or pouring smaller measures at home.
Richard Beech also discusses his experiences with drinking – and how he overcame issues with alcohol this year.
Richard, who is the company director of The Ginger Agency, says that he retrained his brain to treat alcohol as a poison, rather than thinking of it as the key to having fun or relieving stress.
The former journalist said: “If it’s me and alcohol in a relationship, alcohol has the power – and I am completely unable to control it.
“There is an unhelpful perception that an alcoholic is someone who is sat on the street, and really down on their luck.
“And really, technically, an alcoholic is anybody who isn’t fully in control of their relationship with alcohol, because that suggests that there is a level of addiction there.”
He adds: “We would be surprised, particularly in the UK where we have a culture of drinking, how many people are maybe on the edge of that.”
You can listen to the full interview with Richard Beech and Drinkaware’s Jennifer Walters in the latest episode of the Alone Together podcast here.
Alone Together is a Laudable production from the newsrooms of the Manchester Evening News, the Edinburgh Evening News, and Birmingham Live.