Cost of living crisis increases addiction to alcohol and drugs


A growing number of people are turning to alcohol and drugs to cope with the stress and anxiety of the cost of living crisis, a charity has warned.

A YouGov poll commissioned by charity The Forward Trust has found a sharp rise in dependency over the past eight months since the worsening cost of living crisis began.

Almost a third (32%) of the 2,191 adults surveyed said they had relapsed into addiction or knew someone close to them who had relapsed.

The cost-of-living crisis was considered the biggest trigger of anxiety, stress and trauma by those reporting addiction relapse – according to 61% of respondents.

The poll was released to coincide with Addictions Awareness Week last week (October 30-November 6).

It is also linked to an ‘Act Against Addiction’ campaign, which has called for addiction to be treated as a serious mental health issue and for increased access to treatment, support and care for anyone affected, including including families and children.

The campaign is urging ministers to fully commit to the increase in drug treatment spending approved by the government as part of its ten-year drugs strategy, From Harm to Hope, released in 2021 in response to the Dame Carol Black’s Independent Review of Illegal Drugs. .

The Forward Trust argued that its research, which ran for three consecutive years, found that economic uncertainty and rising inflation created a downward spiral of dependency after the pandemic. The pandemic period itself has led to a significant increase in addiction levels.

Some 6% of those polled, the equivalent of 2.1 million people extrapolated nationwide, said they had increased their alcohol consumption since the cost of living crisis began, the report said. ‘charity.

A quarter of those who increased their drinking also reported problems as a result – ranging from lack of sleep to work problems and increased stress.

This 6% increase will exacerbate already rising levels of alcohol harm across the UK, the charity has warned, adding that alcohol-specific deaths are at their highest level since the start of the recordings.

The charity also pointed to recent research by academics at the University of Sheffield which suggested changes in alcohol consumption during the pandemic could lead to thousands more deaths in England.

Mike Trace, Chief Executive of Forward Trust, said: “Addiction is a serious mental health issue that can trap individuals, break up families, increase health, social and criminal problems and reduce economic activity.

“Addiction is deeply linked to other mental health issues and so it’s no surprise to see that, as people grapple with the anxiety and stress of a cost of living crisis, they report a relapse or turn to alcohol, drugs or gambling.”


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