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What You Should Do If Your Lockdown Drinking Is Out Of Control

The problem…

My boyfriend and I split up just over a year ago and I took it very badly. I started drinking quite a lot but then I thought I was getting to be okay and cut back. Then we went into lockdown and I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been drinking most days – usually on my own.

I’ve been so depressed and miserable and as things are, I don’t see how I’m ever going to meet anyone else ever again. I know people say it will be over eventually, but I can’t see it ever being the way it was. I don’t think there will be clubs and parties and things for a long time.

It’s all so depressing and as I’m working from home, there’s no one to notice that I’ve usually had a couple of shots by lunchtime. The evenings are the worst because, living on my own, there’s nothing and no one to stop me. I’m getting through at least one bottle of spirits a week which I order with my online groceries, but I’ve been topping it up through the local off-licence as well.

I’ve tried to talk to my parents but they’re worried and think I may be turning into an alcoholic. Do you think they might be right?

(iStock/PA)

Fiona says…

“I can’t tell you whether or not you are an alcoholic, but I am pretty certain you are developing a serious drink problem that you desperately need to get under control. The fact you were able to cut back is a good thing – hopefully, if you’ve done it once, you can do it again.

“A great many people have tried to cope with the loneliness and isolation of lockdown by drinking more heavily, but most have found it simply numbs the pain but doesn’t cure it. The strain you are putting on your liver and kidneys is enormous, and the damage will only increase the more you drink.

“Breaking up with your boyfriend may have triggered your initial problem but, while you are still lonely and depressed, I think the problem has now moved on. I’m sure that, not only do you miss your boyfriend, you also miss everyone and everything else too.

“Working from home is a challenge for most people – it’s hard to stay focused on work when it’s easy to be distracted – and if there’s no “down-time” to compensate, it’s even worse. Instead of thinking of those video conferencing calls as simply work related, why not see if you can’t persuade friends and colleagues to join you for more social activities? Quiz nights, karaoke sessions, gaming, reading groups and music sessions are just a few of the many things people are getting together to do together, virtually.

“You are not alone in feeling depressed and lonely; a survey for the Mental Health Foundation found young people aged 18 to 24 were the most likely to experience loneliness since the lockdown began. Almost half of those questioned feel this way,and there is a lot of support out there – you could join one of the many online communities that are working to tackle loneliness. Mind’s Side by Side, for example, would be a good place to go for support.

“I think your parents are right to be concerned, so please don’t dismiss their worries. Instead have a look at Drinkaware where you can find a self-assessment tool. The website can also provide you with support to get you drinking under control before it spirals out of hand.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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