meIn the first wave of coronavirus virus purchases in Australia, buyers stockpiled toilet paper. Then they come for pasta, rice and canned food. About a week later, there was a shortage of napkins, paper towels, and tissues.
On March 22, there was an escape in bottle shops, because shoppers, thinking the outlets might close under the new law, hoard alcohol. In the confusion over whether bottle shops are an important service, trolleys are filled with spirits, wine and beer boxes.
“Can report that there is now a panic purchase at Dan Murphy’s. Every car space in our local branch is full, everyone is loading. We will be a socially isolated country for a while,” wrote someone in twitter.
Commsec reports spending rose by more than 20% in the week ended March 20, compared to the same time last year; and in the week to March 27, spending at liquor stores in Australia rose by 86%. Although the increase was offset by the closure of bars, restaurants and pubs, that week the Australians remained spend 34% more in alcohol than in the same period the previous year.
Now we all sit at home drinking buried alcohol and throwing parties at the application, but experts warn that in addition to the pandemic, we face another public health crisis – drink a lot.
Peter, a 59-year-old marketing manager from Sydney’s north coast, was one of those who stockpiled alcohol on the weekend of March 22.
His wife brought three packs of champagne, while he bought “two bottles of wine – three crates [12 bottles] the second time – and it’s time to refresh them “.
“Because I have been working from home, I have slipped into a bad road. “I’m not worried about that yet – but it’s not a good habit,” said Peter, who had been locked up for two weeks.
Before quarantine, he only drank on weekends, but now he said, “The two of us [Peter and his wife] work from home and we drink every day starting at 5.30 in the afternoon. At present, there are no consequences – nobody notices if you feel a little hairy the next day, and someone else is on the same boat. There are lots of drinking memes in circulation. I am not at all surprised that … sales are rising, “he said.
Professor Michael Farrell, director of National Medicine and Alcohol The Research Center at Sydney’s New South Wales University, said scenes broadcast from crowded bottle shops at the end of March showed “there was an attack on bottle shops – and it was very clear that sales had increased. Vulnerability is for people who are already on the margins of heavy drinking. They have restrictions that are removed from them. “
These constraints, eliminated by staying at home, including being able to drink during the day, or get drunk without being detected by the employer.
But he said people also drink because of “anxiety about the complex social situation we face. People are worried about their jobs, finances, and falling ill. They are hoarding alcohol – this is a social storm”.
Chris Raine, founder of Hello Sunday Morning, a movement that aims to help people reduce or stop drinking through online accountability and counseling applications, has noticed “improvements” in services since people began to isolate themselves. “The registration has doubled,” he said.
“It’s frighteningly honest – this is the perfect storm because you have a culture that relies on alcohol to relieve stress and cope with anxiety and now that stress and anxiety have floated on the roof as a result of viruses.
Raine worries that under these conditions, “it creates a situation where people are accustomed to drinking every day”.
This unusual situation creates a possible cascade effect, Raine said. Weekend drinkers become drinkers on weekdays; social drinkers become daily drinkers; and those who struggle with composure, who rely on the help of face-to-face groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (now using Zoom because of physical distance rules), will recur.
Farrell agreed, saying people were “left socially isolated – so that normal assistance was lost”.
He hopes applications like Daybreak (made by the Hello Sunday Morning Raine team) will bridge the gap created by the suspension of support groups and face-to-face counseling.
“One of the things you can do is promote telephone services for people counseling – it’s not too difficult to turn to that,” he said. “And you can use the application to get support when isolating. Prevention programs will come later. “
Farrell said at the moment “the only thing you can do [to halt the problem] potential to ration sales. “
Currently the industry’s self-imposed limit is quite generous, Farrell said.
On April 1, major alcohol retailers in most states (except Western Australia where steps exist) apply for voluntary codes that limit the number of drinks a customer can buy in one transaction.
Beer, cider, and charcoal mixed are limited to two containers, and wine is up to 12 bottles per customer, while wine and bottle wine are limited to two items respectively.
Any further restrictions, such as closing bottle shops, may be too heavy to bear, Farrell said, because “there is enough social control at the moment”.
Instead, “we must focus people on learning physical health and mental health and a good regime around sports and food. People must have a few days when they release alcohol “.
When Raine saw “the rush to buy alcohol”, he said, “My gut reaction is ‘typical’ and ‘understandable’ but then digging into it, that’s how Australians see alcohol as an important service – almost culturally seeing alcohol as an essential drug . “
Raine acknowledged that if bottle shops were not considered important services and were closed, the results would be disastrous. “You will have tens of thousands of people going to forced detoxification and not having a health system that can handle it. I hope people are not as culturally dependent on alcohol as they do.”
For people like Peter, entering the third week of social isolation, this is the week to start tracking his drinking habits.
“There are times when it is appropriate to say ‘annoying’ and get drunk, but you cannot sustain it throughout the crisis.”
Friday night will be Zoom Peter’s first drink with friends, but the following week he decides to go back to drinking only two nights a week, on weekends.
“This is very new territory – it’s difficult,” Raine said. “But all things are difficult to produce fruit of opportunity. And we can grow and become more resilient. “
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