Covid lockdown sees young pensioners spending money on alcohol instead

Covid lockdown sees young pensioners spending money on alcohol instead

November 16, 2020

Baby boomers hit the booze as Covid lockdown sees young pensioners who are missing out on holidays and socialising spending their money on alcohol instead, psychiatrists say

  • Experts said pensioners turned to alcohol after being unable to see friends
  • 45 per cent of Royal College of Psychiatrists experts also saw rise in patients with mental health worsened by alcohol
  • Public Health England (PHE) figures showed older people significantly increased alcohol intake during first lockdown 

Baby boomers who missed out on holidays, sport and seeing friends during lockdown spent the money they saved on alcohol instead, according to psychiatrists.

A survey of the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that 45 per cent of the experts had seen a rise in patients where alcohol or drug use had helped to worsen their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Emily Finch, the vice-chairman of the college’s addictions faculty and also a government adviser, said young middle class pensioners had turned to alcohol after being deprived of their freedom and seeing friends. 

Dr Finch, who is also a member of the Government’s advisory council on the misuse of drugs, told The Telegraph: ‘If you’re a young pensioner with a reasonable income, you are not going on holiday, you are saving money, and alcohol is something that’s readily available.’ 

Baby boomers who missed out on holidays, sport and seeing friends during lockdown spent the money they saved on alcohol instead, according to psychiatrists

‘One thing about lockdown is that you lose your routine, so most of us would have been out and about all day doing things that mean you’re less likely to get to six o’clock and think I’ve nothing to do, I might as well have a drink.’

Figures from Public Health England (PHE) showed that older people also significantly increased their alcohol intake during the first lockdown, which began in March.

Dr Emily Finch said alcohol is ‘readily available’ to pensioners

Around a fifth of people aged 45 to 74 were drinking more than 21 units a week. Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.

A normal glass of red wine is worth around two units, while a pint of lager is between two and three units, depending on its strength.

PHE figures also showed that the proportion of people aged 55-64 who drank at least a pint a day jumped from 17.4 per cent to 20.6 per cent.

One in 20 consumed more than 50 units, almost three pints, a day.   

Katherine Severi, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, also told The Telegraph that baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – were being targeted by win club promotions and also bulk buy offers.

‘They are nudged into potentially harmful behaviours,’ said Ms Severi. 

The college and institute called for the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol, which already exists in Scotland. 

Dr Finch added that addiction treatment services should be overhauled. 

It comes after a study by alcohol education charity Drinkaware found that women increased their alcohol intake more than men in the first lockdown.    

The study suggested 26 per cent of people in the UK increased their alcohol consumption between March and June 2020 and one in ten reported increased drinking over the entire course of the lockdown.

However, the report found that overall drinking had barely changed compared to previous years, with just over half of adults drinking at least once a week.

Most of the increase in consumption was driven by women, the charity discovered, adding that 14 per cent of women said they were drinking over 14 units per week.  


Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits.

It is organised into three categories: mild, moderate and severe. Each category has various symptoms and can cause harmful side effects.

If left untreated, any type of alcohol abuse can spiral out of control. 

Individuals struggling with alcoholism often feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol.

This can lead to a wide range of issues and impact professional goals, personal matters, relationships and overall health.

Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol abuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface. 

When alcohol addiction is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increases significantly.

Common signs of alcoholism include:

  • Being unable to control alcohol consumption
  • Craving alcohol when you’re not drinking
  • Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
  • Feeling the need to keep drinking more
  • Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
  • Behaving differently after drinking

Short-term effects of alcohol abuse can be just as dangerous as long-term effects. 

For instance, drinking can impact your reaction time, causing you to have slow reflexes and coordination.

That’s why drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. Getting behind the wheel of a car can alter your perception of speed and distance, putting yourself and others at risk.

Several short-term effects of alcohol abuse may produce:

  • Slow reaction time
  • Poor reflexes
  • Reduce brain activity
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness

Additionally, consuming too much alcohol can affect your long-term health. Some side effects may lay dormant for years before they surface.

Because of this, professional medical care is required for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Long-term health conditions caused by alcohol:

  • Brain defects 
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes complications
  • Heart problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Vision damage
  • Bone loss 

Treatment for Alcoholism 

There are different forms of treatment available based on frequency and severity of alcohol abuse. 

Recovering from alcohol addiction is a process that continues long after rehab. 

It takes commitment to practice and apply the techniques you learn in rehab, counseling, support groups and other types of therapy.

Although every individual will have their own recovery plan that’s tailored to their specific needs, treatment generally follows a structure.

Alcohol treatment is broken into three sections, consisting of:


The first stage in alcohol addiction recovery is detoxification. This phase should be completed with the help of medical professionals due to the potential for serious, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Many times, individuals are given a medication to help alleviate the painful side effects of a withdrawal.


There are two types of rehabilitation that help treat alcoholism: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehabs are intensive treatment programs that require you to check into a facility for a certain period of time, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. Outpatient rehab allows individuals to participate in a recovery program while continuing with their daily life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options to determine which form of recovery will best fit your needs.


The recovery process doesn’t end with the completion of rehab. Long-term sobriety requires ongoing therapy and may entail support groups, counseling and other recovery resources. These will make sure you maintain sobriety and continue on a happy, healthy path for months and years to come.

Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide

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