The Duchess of Cambridge has urged people struggling with addiction to seek help, as new research revealed a quarter of UK adults are drinking more in lockdown.
Kate made a virtual visit to Clouds House, a rehab centre in Wiltshire run by Action on Addiction, in her role as patron of the charity.
In a video call from her family home, the duchess talked to staff about how they have adapted their services, taking them online and reconfiguring the entire centre to allow 10 residential clients to be able to isolate for two weeks.
She also discussed fears that more people will need treatment as the coronavirus lockdown eases.
Kate said: “The worrying thing is, it is all those people who aren’t necessarily reaching out who are struggling, who perhaps don’t feel they can reach out.
“Or the fact that maybe they haven’t realised that addictive behaviours have sort of established, particularly if it’s the first time – and it’s those people who aren’t necessarily being vocal about it.
“It’s making sure that they know they can reach out and that you are there to help and support them in this very difficult time.”
More than a third of people, 39%, with a history of addiction have reported a recurrence of their addictive behaviour or have recently relapsed while in recovery.
The statistics from a YouGov poll for the charity Action on Addiction also showed an increase in addictive behaviour in young adults and children as young as 12, during the COVID-19 crisis.
Some 4% of those questioned have a close relative between the ages of 12 and 25 for whom this is the case, which the charity said would amount to more than two million children and young people on a national scale.
Kate was given a briefing on the new research and spoke to clinical lead Dr Simone Yule about whether she had noticed a difference in the number of people contacting them for emergency help.
Dr Yule said: “We are seeing more alcohol issues and in the community.
“I think definitely we know alcohol sales have gone up exponentially, so the rise in people that are now starting to seek treatment with lockdown gradually lifting, I think that is going to have a big impact.”
She also spoke with former Clouds House residents Claire and Chris, who are currently in the centre’s aftercare programme.
Chris told the duchess how emerging from rehab into lockdown had been a “blessing in disguise” as it made him “feel safe again”, and how he had been using Zoom to connect with the centre.
“It was a gentle stepping stone back into reality. It kind of took away all of my temptations, the accessibility, the associations I had with friends.
“There’s always the fear of missing out and that kind of got taken away in a sense, so it was really nice for me, it felt gentle.”