The deadly consequences of Britain’s lockdown drinking – podcast

Kathy Edge was always a social drinker, but didn’t think she had a problem with alcohol. In the early days of the Covid lockdown, she thought she was coping well and that her drinking was no worse than usual.

“What the hell, I’m not going out, nothing’s open, I’m not seeing anybody,” she thought.

But she quickly found her drinking habits were changing. “I’ve got a fairly high tolerance for alcohol, and not having any consequences, not having to get up the next day, not having to turn up anywhere on time, I started to just really let myself go,” she says. “I was drinking with no pleasure, I was drinking because I couldn’t see any other way of functioning.”

Three months into lockdown, she realised that alcohol had a “very tight grip” on her, and she eventually ended up in hospital.

A recent University of Sheffield study estimated that if people keep drinking at the rate they are now, England could have up to 1m extra hospital admissions over the next 20 years.

Dr Stephen Ryder, a consultant hepatologist at Nottingham university hospital, tells Nosheen Iqbal about the health implications of heavy drinking and what the government needs to do to prevent excess deaths. Ben Robinson, a campaigner who was newly sober when lockdown began, explains why the conditions of lockdown were so challenging for people with alcohol addiction.

Photograph: Kevin Coombs/Reuters

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