Covid-19 has complicated Ireland’s relationship with alcohol

Niamh Quinlan

Pubs and bars are closed but off-licenses have always remained open. With the combination of isolation depression and seasonal depression, reaching for the bottle just to feel a little better can be tempting.

It’s developing a habit of it where the problem arises.

While alcohol sales did increase the beginning of the pandemic, this could simply be because of pubs, restaurants and clubs closing. People were going to drink no matter what, it’s just that the drink was coming from somewhere different now.

A survey conducted by doctors from the RAND Corporation in California and Indiana University School of Public Health on the alcohol consumption of adults in the US over the course of the pandemic found that alcohol consumption increased by one day every month.

The issue with that is the finances. Drinks are horrendously overpriced when you go out. 

Now that we’re staying in and drinking alcohol bought in the shop, it’s tempting to spend the same amount of money on drink. Which, of course, means more alcohol for the same price, and that’s where the issue of alcoholism or excessive drinking comes in.

I think for students who went home to live with their parents however, drinking habits would have decreased. You don’t want to be in the state you’d usually be in when throwing shapes on the Dicey’s dancefloor. And your parents don’t want to see you in that state either. 

For me, personally, last march I travelled back west to live at home with my mam, dad, sibling and my granny. I didn’t drink anything more than the occasional glass of wine until my friend’s Zoom-hosted, 21st birthday in May.

And now, nearly a year later, many people have moved back to their respective cities and universities. Pubs are closed, clubs are closed, Shite Nite is gone. The routine of excessive drinking we once adhered to isn’t there anymore.

As a result, I’ve found myself drinking less as have my friends. The usual partying at least two, usually three, times a week has been replaced by drinking whenever all of your housemates available. I’ve found it to be lucky if that happens more than once a week.

But it would be ignorant to say that everyone is in that position. 

The serious threat of alcoholism comes into play quicker than you think. A lot of the time it’s not about wanting the drink, it’s just wanting to not be sober. That’s standing at the threshold of addiction and it can be a difficult thing to step back from.

I don’t just think students are the only ones in danger of incorporating their usual night-life drinking habits into their everyday lives. Anyone old enough to buy alcohol is.

With the drinking culture the way that it is in Ireland, almost everyone is at risk. It’s not any easy time, but looking after each other and using the abundance of resources on drinkaware.ie, Askaboutalcohol.ie and Alcohol Addiction Ireland.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Masaaki Komori Unsplash