Quarantinis and furlough Merlot: drinking to relieve anxiety or frustration
In this research podcast, psychologist Professor Gareth Roderique- Davies looks at the impact of lockdown on the consumption of alcohol and the potential for chronic alcohol consumption to cause brain damage.
Hello and welcome to Sixty Seconds Spotlight. I’m Gareth Roderique-Davies, Professor of Psychology at the University of South Wales. My research focuses on addiction and the long-term psychological consequences of drug use.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of us all. Judging by the number of alcohol-related memes doing the rounds on social media, not to mention the use of hashtags such as “Quarantini” and “Furlough Merlot”, it seems that many of us are turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
The Office for National Statistics reported a 31.4% increase in alcohol sales in response to lock down. A report by Alcohol Change UK suggests that 21% of people are drinking more now than they did before the lockdown and that these people tended to be the individuals who consumed higher amounts of alcohol before lockdown.
While most drinkers are well aware of the potential impact of drinking alcohol on their livers, few may be aware of the potential for Alcohol Related Brain Damage or “ARBD”. Long-term alcohol consumption at hazardous rates can lead to structural and functional changes to the brain which can impact on memory, thinking, planning and reasoning and also changes in personality.
ARBD is a preventable, treatable and potentially reversible condition, if recognised and treated early. However, the current pandemic may exacerbate existing problems with it being harder for some to drink at safe levels. Our research here at the University of South Wales shows that there has been an increase of over 20% in ARBD over a 10-year period in Wales, with younger and younger people presenting with the condition.
So, while we all strive to stay home and stay safe, take a moment to think about consumption of alcohol.
Gareth Roderique-Davies is Professor of Psychology at the University of South Wales with expertise in substance misuse, behavioural addiction, craving and the long-term effects of recreational drug use.
He's an HCPC-registered Psychologist, a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
Professor Roderique-Davies has worked on numerous funded and commissioned research projects with a range of external partners.
He is an invited observer member of the Cross Party Group on Problem Gambling at Welsh Government and an invited expert on the Welsh Government’s Substance Misuse Treatment Framework for alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) Project Board.
You can see Professor Gareth Roderique-Davies' research outputs here. To discuss collaborative or industrial research, please contact USW Exchange.