Alcohol sales skyrocket during lockdown – so how much is too much?
Another level four lockdown means another rush on toilet paper… and booze. It’s no secret that alcohol sales skyrocketed during the first level four lockdown in New Zealand. Nielsen figures showed a whopping 36 per cent spike in sales in the four weeks to April 2020. This time around, booze sales nationwide went up nearly 500 per cent on the eve of lockdown alone.
The recommended alcohol intake
So how much alcohol is too much? The Ministry of Health recommends that men drink no more than three standard drinks a day and no more than 15 standard drinks a week. For women, it’s two standard drinks per day and no more than 10 standard drinks a week. Everyone needs at least two alcohol-free days every week.
It’s also worth noting that a standard drink is a lot smaller than you think: there are 7.7 standard drinks in a bottle of wine – so if you only get four glasses out of a bottle, you’re having your two standard drinks in one glass.
If you’re drinking a lot more than those guidelines, you’re definitely not alone. A 2017 survey showed that 25 percent of Kiwis who consume alcohol are classed as “hazardous drinkers”. And it’s not just young people drinking to dangerous levels, with one in four 45 to 54 year olds who drink also seen as hazardous drinkers.
Taking a break from alcohol
Lotta Dann, who runs Living Sober, an online recovery community funded by the NZ Drug Foundation and Health Promotion Agency, saw a huge uptick in members during last lockdown and she encourages anyone who is concerned about their drinking to try a break from the booze.
“If there’s a little worried voice inside your head telling you your drinking is a problem – listen to it! It’s probably speaking the truth, and knows something needs to change. I always say to people the first step in making a change to your drinking habits is believing that change is possible. I know it feels terrifying, impossible almost, to live with little or no alcohol, but believe me – it is totally doable!
“Next – be very aware that although we live in a world that glorifies and normalises alcohol and treats it like it’s a harmless substance, it’s just not. It’s an addictive and toxic drug – sorry for the brutal words but it’s true. Know that you’ll get to a place where you don’t miss that stuff at all. And most importantly – reach out and connect with others who know exactly what you’re going through – because they have the same worried internal dialogue.”
Living Sober allows people to talk honestly and openly with one another online. It’s free and you can be anonymous if you choose. Lotta is enormously proud that the members are, “kind and supportive and non-judgemental. The internet can be a brutal place at times, but not us – we’re a gorgeous little site of goodness.”
Resources to help you take a break from drinking
There are a number of books and podcasts that can be helpful if you would like some extra encouragement to stop drinking for a while. Your liver will thank you for it – plus, you’ll get the benefit of saving some cash, better sleep, less anxiety (which is hugely helpful during lockdown), clearer skin and you’ll be able to eat those calories rather than drinking them!
Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker
This Naked Mind by Annie Grace
Mrs D Is Going Without by Lotta Dann
We Are the Luckiest by Laura McKowen
Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck
Seltzer Squad – Staying Sober in the City
This Naked Mind with Annie Grace
A Sober Girls Guide
Over the Influence
AA also has a large number of online meetings during lockdown. You can head to their website to find the right one for you.