With overwhelming community focus on the personal and economic fallout from the current COVID-19 crisis, the alcohol industry has moved to reinforce the message of responsible drinking.
DrinkWise ambassador and media personality, Dr Andrew Rochford, has released three videos highlighting the risk of drinking during times of stress, the role of parental influence and the importance of alcohol guidelines.
“Coronavirus has presented many challenges for all Australians in recent weeks, particularly to our health, wellbeing, general feeling of safety and financial stability,” Dr Rochford said.
“In uncertain times like these, there’s a temptation to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, however people choosing to drink need to remember to do so in moderation,” he said.
The proactive campaign comes amidst media reports of panic buying of alcohol. At the same time, a rise of ‘wine mum’ and other ‘drink-to-cope’ memes has been accused of casualising alcohol abuse and promoting drinking as a coping mechanism.
On Wednesday the Western Australian Government moved to impose purchasing restrictions on alcohol with Premier Mark McGowan warning of the dangers of buying up large amounts of alcohol at a time where they would be staying at home for extended periods.
“These restrictions are not intended to stop people from having a responsible drink. They are relatively minor, sensible measures that will help ensure our State is in a strong position to respond to COVID-19,” he said in a statement
“This only will result in problems throughout our society that we cannot afford right now.
“These are problems that will stretch our police force and only put more pressure on our hospital system.”
Lockdown and domestic violence
His comments about responsible drinking came as a report from from Women’s Safety NSW showed there has already been an increase in demand for domestic violence services. Anti-alcohol organisation FARE has previously released data it says draws a link between spikes in domestic violence during ‘stay at home and drink’ occasions such as State of Origin.
In the DrinkWise campaign, Dr Andrew Rochford – who trained in emergency medicine, discusses the dangers of excessive drinking during self-isolation and under times of extreme stress.
Dr Rochford said that the challenges presented by COVID-19, as well as the situation of self-isolation, saw increased opportunity to drink to excess that could lead to longer term problems.
He also reminded that with schools closing and kids at home for extended periods, it is essential that parents continue to set a good example if choosing to consume alcohol in front of their children.
The initiative balances industry campaigns designed to support alcohol manufacturers and retailers struggling to keep their businesses afloat during the crisis, with messaging about the way consumers consume alcohol during the same period.
If you’ve stockpiled it, it doesn’t mean you need to drink it Dr Rochford reminds consumers in the above video.
DrinkWise is an alcohol industry initiative that aims to promote generational change in the way Australians consume alcohol.
If you or someone you know needs help with your drinking, DrinkWise has a list of support services.
If you’re interested the topic, we recommend this recent episode of The Chosen Brew podcast featuring addiction specialist John Boyle.