Saturday, December 4

Calls to the Helpline Increase as Closing Alcohol Sales Increase

The lockdown causes some people to reach for the bottle, and helplines see an increase in calls about loved ones who drink too much.

The lockdown causes some people to reach for the bottle, and helplines see an increase in calls about loved ones who drink too much.

The woman is standing by the shelf with a bottle of wine and chooses one.  Close up of female hand, ascending drink

Photo: 123rf

Alcohol sales soared on the eve of Level 4, with one advocate saying the ease and speed of alcohol delivery since then is making times even more difficult for some.

The tensions of the confinement made Jason, a man from the South Island, turn to drink.

“To maintain a cooler disposition with cautious children,” he said.

“Kids are basically losing shit all the time, so Mom and I sit and drink wine a lot more often than we would.

“Much more wine and many more craft beers.”

His alcohol consumption has more than doubled, from a few beers on the weekend to basically every night.

“I see it as a boredom killer right now and I guess as a mechanism for dealing with stress from trying to find a house, having eight of us in the house for three generations and then another family. [stuff] that is happening right now.

“So these have been reassuring thoughts, I suppose you would say.”

Justin Lester of research firm Dot Loves Data said alcohol sales rose nearly 500 percent before the close three weeks ago.

Since then, online alcohol sales have exploded.

“Let’s say, for example, on August 23 alone, online alcohol spending increased 417 percent nationally, compared to last year.”

Lester said that while he does not have access to supermarket alcohol sales data, the figures seem to indicate that people were drinking more.

“Certainly more alcohol is being bought … the average transactions are much larger and the number of transactions has also increased significantly.

“Whether or not that leads, after closing, to people spending less on alcohol … because they have accumulated.

“But what we keep seeing is that people drink more.”

Regional wine and spirits warehouse manager Stefan Prentice said its closing sales were slightly below normal.

He said that at the close of last year people got caught up in the less common varieties of wine, while this time Belgian beer and specialty spirits were gaining popularity.

“We are finding people who are tasting whiskeys.

“And we’re finding that the demand for local gin is huge. Instead of buying the regular Gordon’s and Bombay, Tanqueray, they’re going out and buying locally produced gins; it’s becoming a huge market.”

A survey after last year’s level 4 lockdown by Te Hiringa Hauora / the Health Promotion Agency showed that one in five people drank more, a third drank less, while half stayed more or less the same.

While there are no numbers yet this time, David Codyre of the Whakarongorau National Telehealth Service said there has been an increase in callers concerned about how much they or their loved ones are drinking.

“One of the key things that would indicate that you have a drinking problem is when other people are worried about it.

“So I think it’s the fact that the family, the whānau members, the roommates, the friends are calling with concern about the drinking of someone they know.”

Alcohol Healthwatch CEO Dr. Nicki Jackson said that making liquor readily available through delivery as an essential product during the lockdown did not help people make healthy choices during a time of significant stress.

She was particularly furious at what she saw as media personalities endorsing the use of alcohol to cope with the lockdown.

“That is simply not acceptable, it is an incredibly harmful drug and people are trapped in their homes.”

“We know that alcohol fuels domestic violence, increases the likelihood and severity of family harm, and there are children around. It is important that we are not modeling alcohol use as a way to cope.”

Jackson said anyone who wants help with a drinking problem should call or text 1737, talk to their doctor or a Maori health provider.

Where to get help:

I need to talk? Call toll-free or text 1737 anytime to speak with a trained counselor, for any reason.

Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

Medication Help Website

Life line: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865/0508 TAUTOKO (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide or for those who are worried about family or friends.

Helpline for depression: 0800111757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Youthline: 0800376633 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or send a free text message to 234 (8 am to 12 am), or send an email to [email protected] nz

What’s the matter: online chat (3 PM to 10 PM) OR 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428787 Helpline (12 PM to 10 PM Monday to Friday, 3 PM to 11 PM) M. On weekends)

Kidsline (from 5 to 18 years old): 0800 543 754 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Health line: 0800 611 116

Rainbow youth: (09) 376 4155

Outline: 0800 688 5463 (6:00 pm to 9:00 pm)

If it is an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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