‘Loneliness epidemic’ pushing people towards alcohol

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More than one in ten people who experience loneliness are turning to alcohol to cope, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Turning Point. Around 30 per cent of Britons feel lonely ‘all, often or some of the time’, the poll found – 35 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men.

People aged 40-55 – known as ‘Generation X’ – and those over 55 are most likely to drink to cope with their isolation, at 15 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. However, younger millennials and teenagers are more likely to report being affected by feelings of isolation, with more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds saying that they feel lonely. Almost two thirds of people who didn’t work reported being lonely.

The results show that an estimated 3.1m people are drinking to cope with a lack of meaningful relationships with family and friends, says Turning Point, part of Britain’s ‘loneliness epidemic’. Alcohol itself can compound or lead to social isolation, the organisation warns, with one in ten respondents saying that alcohol had negatively affected their relationships.  

Turning Point is urging the government to do more to address the issue, as well as increase investment in community alcohol treatment services – particularly around early intervention.

‘Social connections, companionship and friendship play a vital role in everyone’s wellbeing and quality of life,’ said Turning Point’s head of psychology Jan Larkin. 

‘It’s worrying that so many feel lonely, and some are turning to alcohol for comfort. They risk becoming even more isolated by relying on drink. More commitment is needed from the government to addressing the issue. A cross-cutting strategy on alcohol-related harm would enable currently overstretched services to do more. They would be able to reach out to people in the early stages of dependency and help them make a change.’

Meanwhile, provisional estimates from the Department for Transport (DfT) show a 4 per cent increase in drink-drive accidents for 2018. Almost 6,000 incidents involved at least one driver who was over the alcohol limit, says the department, resulting in around 240 deaths –13 per cent of all road accident fatalities. The final figures will be published in August.

Reported road casualties in Great Britain: provisional estimates involving illegal alcohol levels 2018 at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-transport

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