Drinkaware have released eye-opening research that reveals the drinking behaviours of the LGBTQI community in lockdown
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
Every year Drinkaware, the UK charity that provides practical resources to help people make better choices about their drinking, looks at the current drinking trends in the UK to improve their services. Their study of drinking behaviours in 2020 and during the pandemic, highlighted some noteworthy data from LGBTQI respondents and how they have been dealing with lockdown.
The pandemic has had significant impacts on the nation’s mental health, which has led to restrictions on how we live, work and socialise. In this new piece of research, Drinkaware found that the mental health of the general LGBTQI community has been impacted more from the lockdowns than the UK population as a whole (33% LGBT adult drinkers compared with 27% all UK adults drinkers). So, what has the data shown about LGBTQI mental health and drinking – and why should we be concerned?
While literature suggests that LGBTQI adults are generally more likely to be hazardous drinkers than heterosexual adults, research from 2020 suggests that LGBTQI adults report drinking less alcohol in lockdown compared with UK adults as a whole. However, they are more likely to report drinking when lockdown ends. LGBTQI respondents said they were drinking less than usual because they weren’t seeing their friends (67%) and because they weren’t going out (63%).
Drinking venues play an important role for many LGBTQI people. They are safe spaces and important ways of socialising and integrating into the community without fear or discrimination. Restrictions and lockdowns caused by Covid-19 have likely caused this shift in drinking behaviour and when the restrictions ease, there will be an excess of drinking to make up for lost time.
However, this isn’t the only effect of lockdowns on the LGBTQI community. Drinkaware’s 2020 Monitor revealed that the pandemic has had a more significant impact on LGBTQI adults’ mental health than the UK population as a whole. For example, LGBTQI adults were much more likely to report their mental health had been negatively impacted by the pandemic to a large, or very large extent, than the UK average (25% compared with 17%).
With this mindset of drinking more alongside mental health issues compounded by the pandemic, the question is, are both problems at risk of escalating this year?
Alcohol is a depressant, and can have a negative impact on mental health, making feelings of stress, anxiety and depression worse – or harder to deal with. It is possible that a dangerous cycle may form where one fuels the other, thus increasing the likelihood of mental health crises and risky drinking in the LGBTQI community. It’s crucial that the community handles this adjustment back into drinking more often in a sensible and healthy manner, and know that Drinkaware are on hand to offer any advice and to provide helpful resources for those struggling.
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