Worried about your drinking during covid 19 lockdown?
I have been in the very fortunate position of being able to continue to work all the way through covid 19 lockdown. I don’t say this to show off or brag but to display how I’ve been on the cutting edge of hearing and seeing people’s responses to it at a first hand therapeutic level. What it has meant is that right from day one I have been able to see and hear what the effect of this global pandemic and subsequent social isolating measures has had on my client group. Not only have I had that first hand experience of seeing it, I’ve also had my phone ringing with new clients looking to get advice and support for their anxiety and often related increase in drinking.
Many of these new enquiries are telling me that they are really worried about their increase in drinking. My first question to them is ‘do you know why you are drinking more?’ A few have replied because of boredom and the sun has been shining. I am less worried about these clients and I will talk about why that is in the next paragraph. It is those enquiries that answer the ‘do you know why question’ with the following responses that I’m more concerned about. These responses are ‘my anxiety is through the roof’, ‘ I can’t seem to cope without it’, ‘everyday I tell myself today I will have a day off but then it gets to the afternoon and I think god no I can’t handle this without a drink’, ‘everyone else is managing this better than me’, ‘I feel like a failure’, ‘I’m having lots of disturbing memories’. We are going through a collective trauma, that is bringing up profound grief, loss, panic over livelihoods, panic over loss of lives of loved ones. People’s nervous systems are barely coping with the sense of threat and vigilance for safety, or alternating with feeling numb and frozen and shutting down in response to it all. People are trying to survive poverty, fear, retriggering of trauma, retriggering of other mental health difficulties. When a prospective client calls me and starts to talk about how the covid 19 has started to trigger old negative thoughts, feelings and responses I realise there may well be a need for therapy.
I am often asked if I am fearful that there will be a massive spike in problematic drinking once lock down is lifted. My experience and relevant research shows that the majority of people will return to normal patterns of drinking once they return to their usual routine. Many of these people are drinking because of lack of routine, they may be bored, they may well be aware it doesn’t matter too much if they feel a bit rough the next day and of course the sun has been shining. And what do many people do when the sun shines – drink more. These guys are not drinking because they feel they can’t cope without it. If they were to choose not to drink it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Then there is the cohort of people who are using drink as a crutch as a coping mechanism to get through the day/evening. This group may need some extra support in a therapeutic setting to look at developing new coping skills that will help them in feeling more resilient. This group will likely split in to two groups. Those that will not go on to have a problem with drinking but could struggle with anxiety and or other mental health related problems and those that will continue to use alcohol at a more dependent level once the covid 19 crisis passes. Both these groups would benefit from some psychological input.
Working with old emotional wounds and trauma is my field of experience. This pandemic is a trauma for many just on its own. Add past traumatic life experiences into the mix and we start to see people using faulty coping strategies to survive. I work with trauma in various ways. Using talk therapy to express how the individual feels about their experiences and by using mindfulness approaches such as meditation and mindful enquires to see how the body has processed the hurt and/or trauma. When we work at both these levels we can begin to heal both the mind and the body.
if you are worried about your drinking or any other addictive behaviour please don’t hesitate to contact me on 07983726647 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to listen.