Unhappy man with bottle of whiskey

“I’ve spent the last of our savings on booze…”

Many have upped their alcohol intake since the coronavirus pandemic? But it could be cold comfort in the longer term as impact on our cash and health mounts up. Our Agony Aunt shares some helpful tips

Dear Anna,

I’m worried my drinking has got out of control since lockdown. I lost my job and have been stuck in the house with nothing to do. My wife has been working upstairs and doesn’t know the half of it. I’ve now spent the last of our emergency savings on booze. I’m terrified how she will react. What do I do?

Tim, (via quidsinmagazine.com)

Hi Tim,

Thanks for sharing this with us, it sounds like you’re going through a really tough time right now. We all have different ways of coping when things are difficult, and drinking more alcohol than normal is common. Especially when the future feels so uncertain.

You’re not alone. The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that in June, more than 8.4m people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8m in February.

Here are some suggestions to try:

First of all, speak to someone. Remember that saying “A problem shared is a problem halved?” Well, it’s true. Problems are always harder to work through if we keep them to ourselves. Try talking to your wife and explain how you are feeling and why you are drinking more than you normally would. If she is understanding and prepared to help, there are lots of ways you can help get your finances back on track. Check out our free money health check, our budget planning tips and spending diary. These are all helpful tools to help you keep a track and be more on top of your spending.

There are also lots of free helplines you can ring and speak to someone anonymously for support and advice. Here are a couple to try:

  • The NHS Alcohol Support line (also known as Drinkline) is available on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm)
  • You can also chat confidentially to an online advisor at Drinkaware
  • The charity We Are With You has a free online chat service and drop-in centres located across the UK

Drinkaware has lots of good steps on how to reduce your drinking. A good way to get started is to introduce Drink Free Days. These are days where you plan to do something else, like meet a friend for coffee, or go for a run. They also have tips to help you stay in control when temptation strikes:

  1. Set a goal – Decide how many days a week you will try to go alcohol free and let somebody know (it could be your wife or a friend)
  2. Make swaps easy – always have a supply of alcohol-free drinks, that you enjoy, in the fridge
  3. Be proactive – Try not to put yourself in situations where it will be difficult to stick to your goal. If this means going for a walk, choose a route that goes via a cafe rather than the pub or off license
  4. Measure your progress – At the end of each week look back and see how you’ve done. Don’t worry if you slip up. Remind yourself to start again the following week.

Hope this helps Tim, and best of luck.
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