Bee Sober Blog

Lockdown Drinking, How did you cope?

24 November 2019

Lockdown Drinking, How did you cope?

Even with a good period of sobriety under out belts, lockdown took us both by surprise and all of a sudden, we had to dig really deep for new coping strategies.  Prior to quitting drinking, both of us would have definitely used that nightly glass of wine to take the edge off the stress of normality changing.  We have had more people join our Sober Experiment – taking a break from alcohol due to growing concern about their own drinking habits, seen an increase in the number of people requiring coaching; and these people are professionals, with jobs to return to, families to look after and no means of support at this difficult time.  We have also seen images of people “panic buying” alcohol since lockdown started in March 2020.  With all this in mind, we became increasingly concerned about how other normal drinkers were coping with their alcohol consumption.

Our recent Alcohol Survey Data found that almost 36% of people have increased their alcohol consumption since the UK went into lockdown.  People gave reasons such as: “it helps me with stress, it helps me get to sleep, it reduces my anxiety, I feel I deserve a drink after a hard day working from home or looking after the kids, I’m bored” and these didn’t necessarily come from problematic drinkers, but from people who, prior to lockdown, had their alcohol consumption under control.  With disrupted routines came distorted and amended rules about the quantities people could consume and the time of day it was reasonable to start their wine O’clock.  With bars and restaurants closed, Zoom happy hours started to replace the social aspect of working life.  #quarantini trended over Twitter and Instagram and people started to normalise comments such as “I had wine with my breakfast today” or “Mummy’s home school serves wine”.

In a recent Drinkaware study, 1 in 10 furloughed drinkers said they’d had a drink in secret or covered up the fact they were consuming alcohol since lockdown began. This was almost double both the UK average and the number of those working from home reporting this.  Employers must now use every opportunity to talk to their workforce about alcohol and must plan for a return to work that prioritises employee health and well-being. The consequence of not doing this could result in thousands of people returning to work with ingrained drinking habits that could have an impact on their health – both physical and mental and we are already seeing this in the news.

Headlines such as “I became an Alcoholic during lockdown” and  “Charities warn of alcohol problems increasing during lockdown” are two of the most recent articles published by the BBC News.  We believe this is only the tip of the iceberg with more and more professionals drinking more frequently, starting earlier in the day and drinking much larger quantities during lockdown than ever before.

A press release by Alcohol Change will provide more information here.

Through delivering an interactive presentation about how we overcame our own alcohol dependencies to live a healthier lifestyle, have improved mental health and well being and develop healthy stress-management strategies, Alex and Lisa will help your team to reset their drinking habits, for up to 12 months. Our relatable, inspiring and brutally honest presentation will inspire and engage your people leaving them excited to give our 30-day experiment a go as a team, for charity.  The session is neither judgmental nor preachy and we can actively encourage your employees to make better choices about their drinking and engage them in our employee assistance programme and 30-day supported sobriety experiment as a team – helping you create a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.

Above everything else, we just love what we do.  Sharing our story motivates and inspires others to try our experiment and helps them to change their relationship with alcohol, often for good.  As you will see from our data, almost 40% of people would not share concerns about their own or a colleague’s drinking at work, which means they are left feeling stigmatised and alone with a dependency that is simply classed as normal drinking by those around them.  This recent email is one of many we have received during lockdown (we have kept this anonymous for obvious reasons) and is one of the main reasons we continue to raise awareness around this subject.

Dear Alex and Lisa,

As I embark on my final days of your experiment. I thought you should know…..

I found you on Instagram when I was a desperate mess of a person and mother. I hated myself and my life. I often felt like I didn’t want to be here anymore.

It’s amazing what you can hide behind a smile.

I am probably the hardest most annoying person you have ever worked with bit of a d**k at times. (It’s fine I know).

I am sorry for this. I can’t even start to explain what you have done for me. Not just me my children too.  The heartache you have saved us all from. I literally can’t find the words. You managed to get me to the next chapter, something I thought was impossible and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

You are both so selfless and brave for sharing your stories with us.  There is always going to be a piece of both of you in my heart.

I am starting to live now and not just existing.  I am a better mother, a better sister, a better friend, a better daughter and just a better person.

You saved my life… I am not being dramatic you really have.

I can’t explain how thankful I am. I used to wake up every morning scared to look in the mirror in case my eyes were yellow. I would have to worry if I was over the limit to drive to school and work. Omg how awful am I.

I need to come see you both so you can show me how a proper sober night out is done (not gonna lie I do wish I had managed a drinking night with you because that would have been hilarious) I’m the person who would have been throwing grapes too!! Those days are over now.  I’m not even going to look back. (hopefully)

It has not been easy for me and I nearly gave up so many times.n I was so desperate.

I had proper childish tantrums and panic attacks.  You didn’t give up on me even though it is what I deserved and I am so, so, sorry.

You are bringing out confidence I didn’t know I had . I feel like I am getting to know the sober me as it had been a long time and I am removing the gobby drunk I once was. You have done so much more for me than just helping me with the alcohol.  The depression has pretty much disappeared and my anxiety is getting more manageable.  I have learnt so much about life and myself.  I have never felt so positive.  Who knew Monday mornings were actually great! The start of a whole new week of adventures.

I have made some amazing new friends. You are making me feel proud of the person I am becoming.

Whilst I am full of gratitude, I needed you to know exactly what you have done for me. I’m sorry. I am far from there yet but I cannot believe the difference from the start of your experiment to now. I will look forward to more coaching.

Thank you so much for not giving up on me.