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Alcohol & Covid19 - Advice and Support

In the current situation with lockdown and the viral pandemic many people are feeling stressed which is leading to a big increase of the use of alcohol at home. In March sales of alcohol in the UK increased by 22%!

The isolation and loneliness some people are feeling because of lockdown can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. In the middle of struggling with worry, a drink can seem like the answer to alleviate feelings of anxiety or boredom, or even to help you sleep.

Although alcohol provides a very short amount of relaxation it can actually make you feel a lot worse, especially if you are using alcohol while feeling stressed or anxious.

Using alcohol too much not only harms your body but also contributes to poor mental health, disrupting sleep, increasing feelings of anxiety and making users feel more depressed once the alcohol has worn off.  

There be lots of health problems with using too much alcohol but importantly, because alcohol damages and weakens our immune system even moderate use can increase the risk of contracting an infection of Covid19.

There are some ways in which you can keep yourself safe and well and reduce the need to use alcohol to self medicate during this time of crisis and lockdown

Connect with people:

Use phone or video calls to keep in touch with folk. Get in touch, have a blether especially with anyone who you think might need to hear a friendly voice or see your face. Check in on loved ones who might be vulnerable.

Drink-free days:

 Having drink free days will give both mind and body time to recover from the damage alcohol causes.  Why not commit to at least three drink-free days each week and build activities into your routine that don’t involve drinking, like playing board games, or try out some alcohol-free drinks and mocktail recipes.

You can find some easy to try mocktail recipes here:

Online self assessment:

DrinkAware have put together a handy online assessment form for you to understand the impact of your level of drinking.

It is free to access here:


Recognise the signs of alcohol dependence:

Tolerance to alcohol can increase quickly and this can lead to dependence on alcohol. Signs & symptoms of dependence are:

  • Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol.
  • Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and it hard to stop once you start.
  • Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning.
  • Feelings of anxiety, alcohol-related depression and suicidal feelings – these can develop because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.
  • Suffering from physical withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol.

Where to get help:

Orkney Community Mental Health Team: The CMHT are available on 01856 888000 the service continues to operate however the majority of face to face appointments have been suspended (unless risk assessed otherwise).  Appointments can be carried out over the telephone, by text or using the NHS 'Attend Anywhere'. 

Relationship Scotland Orkney offer a substance misuse service has developed from the need to improve support for children and families affected by alcohol and drugs. Assessment, support and therapy is available to explore the impact of substance misuse on the family, identify strengths and enable positive steps to improve the health and wellbeing of parents, children, young people and the family.

YPeople Orkney offer a youth counselling service, YTalk, which can help young people with substance misuse & associated mental health issues

Drinkline is a national alcohol helpline. If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline on 0333 230 9472 (weekdays 9am–9pm, weekends 10am–4pm)

Alcohol Focus Scotland has a list of treatment services throughout the country

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provide free self-help groups across Scotland. Its 12-step programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups. National helpline number: 0800 9177650

Al-Anon Family Groups offer support and understanding to families and friends of people who are dependent on alcohol. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person's drinking, usually a parent. Helpline: 0800 0086 811

We Are With You (Previously Addaction) is a UK-wide agency that helps individuals, families and communities to manage the effects of drug and alcohol. They provide free, confidential information and advice and a webchat service.

Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs supports families across Scotland affected by alcohol or drugs and raises awareness of the issues affecting them. Many support services including a helpline, support groups, bereavement support and Telehealth service - helpline 08080 101011. Available 9am-11pm Monday to Friday and as a call back service on weekends

Scottish Recovery Consortium are recovery-orientated and exist to support, represent and advocate recovery from problematic substance use in Scotland.

Handy Apps:



Sober Grid is an app that connects you instantly to sober people nearby and around the world, chat with others, get help when you need it & help support others to achieve sobriety.



Nomo lets you create and share sobriety clocks to track the number of days you’ve been sober, unhealthy habits you’ve gone back to, or whatever else you want to track.

Detailed breakdowns of your progress to the minute.

Earn chips when you reach milestones in your recovery.

Send notifications to partners when you’re feeling tempted.

Share your successes directly to social media.




SoberTool – Alcoholism, Addiction, Sobriety Help is a  sobriety tool was developed by a Harvard-educated licensed chemical dependency and certified alcohol addiction counsellor.

It uses proven techniques to help you stay sober. Features include daily motivational messages, a search engine to help you find relevant content, a tool to avoid relapse if you have a craving & a chat forum.




I Am Sober is an app to track your sober days and milestones, build new habits, and enjoy ongoing motivation from a community of people who get it. Daily pledges can help keep you on track. A withdrawal timeline will help you understand what to expect in the days and weeks ahead. There are also additional resources designed to offer you a 24-hour companion and a wide network for your recovery.



The AA 12 Step Toolkit app AA 12 Step Toolkit is a recovery app based on the big book of alcoholics anonymous that It is a great companion app for anyone using the AA 12 step program.

Orkney Alcohol and Drugs Partnership