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COVID-19. Stay Healthy. Stay Safe.

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A survey of Australians shows that since the COVID-19 crisis began, around one in five people have purchased more alcohol than usual. The majority of Australians who reported purchasing more alcohol indicated they are drinking more.

Alcohol and the easing of COVID-19 restictions

South Australians have done a great job to stop the spread of coronavirus. However, it is important that we all continue to do our part to protect one another from COVID-19 and stay at home as much as possible.

With COVID-19 restrictions rolling back, and pubs and restaurants reopening, many South Australians are heading out for drinks with friends. Here are some ways you can help keep yourself and others safe as you start visiting pubs and restaurants:

  • Practice social distancing and good hygiene.
  • Don't drink drive - decide how you will get to your destination and home again before you start drinking.
  • Avoid drinking alone.
  • Eat before and while you are drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol and reduce the pace of your drinking.
  • Drink water and other non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic drinks.
  • Order small serves of beer, spirits or ciders instead of pints or doubles.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you are on certain medications or other drugs.
  • Women who are pregnant should avoid alcohol all together.

How much is too much to drink?

The new draft Australian Alcohol guidelines recommend for healthy adults to drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. The less you drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people not drinking at all is the safest option.

You can use this standard drinks guide prepared by the Australian Government, Department of Health to keep track of how much alcohol you are drinking.

Alcohol and stress

It’s tempting to reach for that beer or glass of wine to cope with stress and change but this could have long-term health consequences.

Although alcohol may initially help you relax, drinking more over an extended period of time can actually increase your feelings of worry. This is because alcohol can cause an imbalance in certain chemicals in your brain, leading to higher levels of anxiety. People are also more likely to drink when they are bored – a common side effect of spending more time at home.

Relying on alcohol for stress relief can seriously affect your health and wellbeing. Drinking too much can put a strain on family relationships, and negatively impact our mental health. It can also affect our physical health. Too much alcohol can lead to accidents and injuries, and serious health conditions like heart disease, strokes and cancers. Drinking heavily for a sustained period of time, such as during the COVID-19 crisis, can also lead to alcohol dependence.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of family and domestic violence. If you are experiencing family violence support can be accessed via the Australian Government's Support Services webpage. If you are in imminent danger please call the police on 000.

Alcohol tips during COVID-19

Feeling worried, overwhelmed or even bored when you are spending more time at home is normal, but there are healthy ways to manage how you are feeling.

  • Try to maintain a daily routine and don’t drink at times you wouldn’t normally.
  • Exercise and healthy balanced meals can decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and are great for maintaining your immune system too.
  • Keep up with activities you enjoy or use the extra time you have to discover new hobbies and interests.
  • Avoid stockpiling alcohol at home, as this can lead to increased alcohol consumption by yourself or others in your household.
  • Eliminate or reduce your alcohol intake so you can remain vigilant, act quickly and make decisions with a clear head, for yourself and others in your family and community.
  • If you drink, keep your drinking to a minimum and avoid getting intoxicated.
  • Never mix alcohol with medications, even herbal or over-the-counter remedies, as this could make them less effective, or it might increase their potency to a level where they become toxic and dangerous.
  • Don't drink alcohol if you take any medication acting on the central nervous system (e.g. pain killers, sleeping tablets, anti-depressants, etc), as alcohol might interfere with your liver function and cause liver failure or other serious problems.
  • This time presents a unique opportunity to quit or reduce drinking as normal triggers such as parties, dining at restaurants and attending bars and clubs, are less available.
  • Create a buddy and self-support system with someone you trust and reach out for extra help if needed, such as online counselling, interventions and support groups.

If you have reduced the amount of alcohol you are drinking during COVID-19 restrictions, think about how you can avoid increasing your alcohol intake as regular social gatherings, such as parties, dining at restaurants or attending bars and clubs become more common.

  • Organise social gatherings that don't involve drinking alcohol, such as going to the movies, going on a walk or having brunch.
  • Speak to a trusted friend about how well you have been going reducing the amount you drink. Ask them if you can reach out to them if you are tempted to drink more than you have been.
  • Plan your night, including the number and types of alcoholic drinks you will take with you to parties or order while you are out.
  • Decide how long you will stay out and leave at a set time - this can be easier if you have a trusted friend to support you.

If you are worried about the amount you or a loved one is drinking, you can access advice and support at Know Your Options or call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1300 13 1340.

Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery are holding face-to-face group and online meetings. Click on the links below for meeting information and times.

Reduce the risk from smoking

Avoid alcohol as a social cue for smoking, and vice versa: people tend to smoke, or smoke more, if they drink alcohol, and smokers are at greater risk when it comes to contracting respiratory infections and suffering the most serious symptoms.

Now is a good time to consider quitting smoking. Quitting can be hard, but it is one of the best things you can do for your health. People who stop smoking cigarettes experience health benefits almost immediately. Just 24 hours after you quit smoking, you’ve already decreased your risk of heart attack. Two weeks later, you’ll find walking is easier and your breathing has improved. One month on, nicotine withdrawals have almost gone and after five years the risk of many cancers has dropped - and you’ve saved around $30,000.

If you’re ready to quit smoking, the following links provide information and support to help you quit your way: