Alcohol Services in the Pandemic

fullsizeoutput_115bAll of us working in the field of alcohol and drug treatment will likely be facing the greatest challenges we have ever faced. Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), a partnership of the medical Royal Colleges and Faculties, has issued some new guidance for services which is well worth a read.

Points that caught my eye include:

  • The fact that alcohol can no longer be consumed in public places, means that home drinking will increase
  • Severely stretched and reduced services means greater likelihood of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality in the medium to long term
  • Heavy drinkers are at increased risk of a range of health harms including sepsis, infectious diseases and COVID-19.
  • The comorbidity of alcohol withdrawal and pneumonia can present a significant clinical challenge
  • Care workers and the general public should take care if requested to buy alcohol for others (allowing some flexibility)
  • The priority in management should be to avoid the abrupt changes to alcohol consumption patterns which could trigger alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Mutual aid meetings have closed, but there is an exponential growth in online meetings

Eric Carlin the Director of SHAAP said:

 The scale of the current public health emergency is hard to contemplate. For many people who are recovering from alcohol-related problems, the risks of relapse are huge. I hope that they will follow official advice in relation to reducing risks of COVID-19 infection and also that they will go online to use the alcohol recovery support networks that are there.