Bosses urged to help workers struggling with lockdown-related alcohol misuse

An organisation that helps people improve their relationship with alcohol is urging bosses to support workers struggling with pandemic-related problem drinking.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 1:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 1:42 pm

One Year No Beer (OYNB) says its call follows a study by University College London (UCL) looking at how coronavirus-related lockdowns affected drinking patterns, with factors including living alone and furlough associated with increased consumption.

It comes after OYNB recently saw its latest crowdfunding target smashed within minutes, which it said demonstrated the strength of the alcohol-free movement. Founded in 2015, the initiative is aimed at anyone drinking more than three glasses of wine a week.

The Edinburgh-based organisation said that according to the research on alcohol use, by UCL’s Department of Behavioural Science and Health, a third of Brits surveyed reported drinking more than before the pandemic, with just under a fifth admitting to consuming more units per drinking session.

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Alcohol behavioural change programme OYNB believes business-owners should be encouraged to offer alcohol-related help and support. Picture: John Devlin.

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The study also found furloughed employees’ drinking patterns have been greatly affected, with furloughed men being three times more likely to increase their heavy episodic drinking than those still in the workplace. Furloughed women were also found to be twice as likely to increase heavy episodic drinking – defined by more than six units per session.

OYNB founder and chief executive Ruari Fairbairns believes business-owners should be encouraged to offer alcohol-related help and support for those who have been struggling with their physical and mental wellbeing in these "difficult and emotional” times.

He says: “Lockdown has been extremely challenging for the nation, causing the most radical changes to work, home and social life – more than society has ever known. If the nation faces future lockdowns, then it is hugely important that workers, particularly those on furlough or similar schemes, are offered sufficient help and support to cope with alcohol use and anxiety.

'People who take control of their relationship with alcohol are more productive and healthier,' says OYNB founder and boss Ruari Fairbairns. Picture: contributed.

“The bonuses for both employer and employee are huge – people who take control of their relationship with alcohol are more productive and healthier. The [OYNB] community can help play a role in that by offering support, guidance and help to anyone concerned about their own or others’ drinking. And it is not all about abstinence, it’s about empowering people to break old habits and build new ones.”

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