Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Young people's own drinking

Worried about your drinking?

The changes that have been made to the way we live our lives because of coronavirus have affected people all over the world. Physical distancing measures are challenging for us all. It is understandable that you may be feeling more stressed and worried than usual and you may be tempted to use alcohol to help you cope.  But now, more than ever it’s important to look after your health and wellbeing.

Maybe you were drinking before lockdown started and you’re finding you’re drinking more or it maybe you’ve just started drinking. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have the facts about alcohol.

Keep your risk low

Keep yourself and others safe by following the government advice and staying at home.  It’s best to meet up with friends online via games consoles or through apps for phones or other electronic devices.

Keeping your risk low

If you do decide to meet up with others in person to drink help keep your risks related to coronavirus low.

  • Don’t share bottles, cans or glasses with other people
  • Try to stay two metres apart from others
  • If you are going to drink keep an eye on the amount
  • Avoid mixing with energy drinks or products that are already premixed with caffeine and sugar – these can also lead to increased anxiety and impact your sleep
  • Think carefully about any medication that you might be on – there are certain medications that you shouldn’t mix with alcohol – especially ones which affect your liver that might be prescribed for acne or many mental health medications.
  • Pace yourself – especially if you haven’t had alcohol in a while as it will take less to feel the usual effects.
  • Stay hydrated – drink water in-between alcoholic drinks.
  • Think about your mood and your environment. If you don’t feel good or aren’t somewhere you feel comfortable with people you trust – avoid drinking.
  • Avoid mixing with other drugs – alcohol increases the risk of other drugs and can make the effects unpredictable or unpleasant
  • If you or one of your friends drinks too much and needs help call 999 and be completely honest about what has happened
  • Some people may use the COVID-19 crisis to take advantage of others, seek help if you feel you are being used or exploited in any way.

What else can you do instead of drinking?

Being cooped up at home and not being able to see friends or family is difficult. YoungScot have lots of suggestions for ways to keep busy at home.

There’s lots to adjust to right now, whether you’re trying to do school, college or university work online or you’re not able to go to work. Parents and family members might be finding it hard too which can make for a stressful home life.  There are services available to offer support and advice listed below.

There are lots of ways that you can help beat stress that don’t involve alcohol. Try these ideas for looking after your mental health and wellbeing:

But alcohol can help me relax, right?

Actually no. Alcohol might give initial feelings of relaxation but it can also increase negative thoughts, particularly when our mood is already low or we are anxious.

It might seem like alcohol is helping to block things out or lift your mood, but in reality it can make it harder to process how you are feeling and in the end, can make your mood worse.

‘The Fear’ is real. Alcohol affects your body’s ability to manage our mood and the anxiety you might get the day after drinking isn’t just because of something embarrassing you might have done the night before. In the long term this makes people who drink alcohol more likely to experience anxiety and depression.

Drinking can also affect your ability to get to sleep and leave you feeling tired the next day. Quality sleep is one of the best ways to look after your mental and physical health.

Alcohol can also reduce how well our immune system works. This makes it more difficult to fight off infectious diseases, like COVID-19.  It is not just the old and vulnerable that are at risk. 

Drinking can also be linked to an increased chance of injuring ourselves, and developing physical and mental health issues in later life.

There is no recommended amount that young people under 18 should drink, because at this stage your body hasn't fully grown and developed. Therefore it could be damaging to have any amount of alcohol.

Read more about the effects of alcohol

What can you do if you’re worried about your drinking?

If you’re finding it difficult to avoid drinking, or feel like you would struggle without alcohol, it can be worrying.  Being honest with yourself about how much you’re drinking can be really difficult, but it is the first step to getting help.

If you can, speak to someone you trust – a family member or friend, or you can contact one of the organisations below to speak to someone either on the phone or via webchat, and find support.

YoungScot Choice for life pages – Covid-19 and alcohol (tobacco and other drugs)

Childline – They are there to talk and listen to you, 1-2-1 confidential chat or just check out their website for some really good information and practical advice.

We are With You – if you are 16 or over you can use their webchat.

Live map of Scottish Service

Crew Digital Drop-in – email or message on instagram - @crew_2000

Worried about a friend or family member and their drinking? Visit Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs. They can offer support via phone and webchat