SERVICES for problem drinking could face soaring demand after lockdown ends, a national charity has warned.

Alison Douglas, head of Alcohol Focus Scotland, told The National that more people are contacting support organisations over worries about a family member’s drinking.

In many of these cases, the problematic behaviour is either new or has come into “sharp focus” during lockdown.

The National:

She said: “Our concern would be that alcohol services, which were already hard-pressed before this crisis, may experience even greater demand after it. We need to be thinking now about how we ensure that services are able to offer people the help they need when they need it.

“Research which can help us understand how people’s drinking has been affected – and the impact on different groups – will be really important both in helping to shape our future service and policy responses.

“What is clear is that going into this crisis we had significant alcohol problems in Scotland and these are unlikely to have improved.

“The Scottish Government has a strong track record in tackling alcohol harm and we hope that when the lockdown is over and we return to normality they will continue to prioritise the nation’s health and wellbeing by addressing how widely available and how heavily marketed alcohol is.”

The comments come after Portsmouth University scientists launched a study to understand how many people are turning to alcohol during lockdown.

Data firm Nielsen has reported a 291% increase in online alcohol sales in the US and researchers from the university say increased alcohol use “could give rise to a second health crisis”.

Dr Matt Parker said: “It is unprecedented to have so many millions of people across the world effectively locked away from their jobs, friends and families.

“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of people responding by drinking more alcohol worldwide.”

Scotland in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.