Don’t let covid-19 drive you to drink: WHO warns alcohol is an ‘unhelpful coping strategy’ to combat stress during lockdown

Experts have cautioned against turning to alcohol to cope with the coronavirus lockdown as it can have severe implications on mental and physical health. 

The European arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said relying on alcohol is an ‘unhelpful coping strategy’.

But it did acknowledge the difficulty many people face adjusting to prolonged isolation and said it is normal to feel stressed, anxious and lonely.

Health officials also said alcohol is unlikely to help alleviate stress during the pandemic and global state of emergency.

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It recommended that people should be ‘minimising the unhelpful coping strategies of using tobacco or alcohol’, the experts say.

The recommendation comes after off-licences were added to the Government’s list of UK retailers allowed to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Aiysha Malik, technical officer for the WHO’s department of mental health, said: ‘For people without addictions, using substances will not help to manage the stress of self-isolation. They can make things worse.’

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She said that the WHO wanted to ensure people look after their mental wellbeing by eating healthily, exercising and sleeping properly. 

Dr Malik added: ‘When we’re staying at home routines are very important for creating a sense of structure.

‘Minimising the unhelpful coping strategies of using tobacco or alcohol can also be important for wellbeing and minimising content you might find distressing in the news.’

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WHO Europe also said that mental health services should prepare for a surge in need as a result of the pandemic.

Social distancing and isolation measures are keeping people away from what they want to do and limiting their ability to leave the house.

People over 70 and with those with underlying heath concerns are being asked not to leave the house at all, if possible.   

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