Nearly 400,000 people in North East drinking more alcohol since start of pandemic


Nearly 400,000 people in the North East have been drinking more since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an alcohol awareness charity.

That is the latest research into drinking habits from the charity Balance. The drink awareness organisation has launched a new campaign across the North East to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week. 

“Alcohol – Not the Answer” highlights that alcohol can weaken our immune system against infectious diseases like Covid, contribute to low mood and anxiety, and cause cancer, stroke and heart disease.

The campaign timing is aimed at reversing a "worrying trend" seen across the region and the country.

A survey from October 2020 found that:

  • Nearly 1/5 (18.6%) of people in the North East (around 397,640 people) are drinking more since Covid.

  • Of those, over 3/4 (79%) are increasing and high risk drinkers. 

Nationally, it was estimated that 8.4 million people are drinking at high risk levels, up from 4.8 million in February.The campaign is being run by Balance and funded by the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System and by local authority public health teams across the North East.

We are encouraging people to take more drink free days and try to stay within no more than 14 units a week. Keeping alcohol in check is an important way to protect our overall health and fitness for the time when we emerge from this crisis.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance

The North East experiences the country’s highest rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions in the country.

Professor Eilish Gilvarry is a  Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions: