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Saturday, 23 October 2021
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National survey reports a surge in alcohol and gambling problems during the pandemic

THE Forward Trust has this week published the results of a national poll conducted by YouGov that shows increasing levels of problem drinking, gambling and relapse a year into the pandemic. This data supports concerns about a rising demand for addiction support and treatment as the lockdowns come to an end.

As many as 20% of UK adults may be drinking more after three lockdowns. Although this figure comes as no surprise, 17% of respondents who said they were drinking more indicated that they were experiencing problems as a result of their increased drinking, relating to work, sleep, money, relationships or physical withdrawal symptoms – with over a third of those experiencing problems saying they would find it difficult to resolve. This is a jump of nearly 30% from the survey a year ago.

These numbers replicated across the UK population would mean 1.5 million people experiencing problems as a result of increased levels of drinking, with 600,000 who have not previously been in recovery from addiction now finding it difficult to resolve these problems.

The results substantiate concerns about the impact of the pandemic on rising addiction problems and associated mental ill-health.

For those who identified as being in recovery from addictive behaviour pre-pandemic, 37% reported a relapse or reoccurrence of their addictive behaviour during a year of lockdowns and restrictions. This is a sustained high from 2020, indicating a profound impact of the pandemic on the recovery community. The Forward Trust and Action on Addiction joined forces in May 2021 to strengthen their ability to meet increased demand for help and challenge the misunderstanding and prejudice that surrounds addiction and stops people from getting help.

Demonstrating this ambition, The Forward Trust is pleased to announce it has launched a Recovery Fund targeting £9 million of additional funds to help respond to the growing demand for addiction treatment and support. The first supporters of the fund are The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust, who have been long supporters of The Forward Trust.

The charity has also announced that it is exploring all possible options to reopen its iconic Brink café, a pioneering community recovery hub in Liverpool, following its closure during the pandemic.

Mike Trace, Chief Executive of The Forward Trust, said:

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on many people – rates of harmful drinking and drug-related deaths are at an all-time high; gambling addiction is rising at an alarming rate, and families and children are living with the hidden harm of addiction in greater numbers than ever before. All this is happening at a time when access to treatment is diminishing.

“Our survey provides an important insight into the looming pressure on services during and following lockdowns. It is clear that people need increasing levels of help, understanding and support, and they need that now.

“Our merger with Action on Addiction is our commitment to helping address this demand. I am delighted that the first step will be to reopen The Brink in Liverpool. It is against this backdrop that we are launching a Recovery Fund to raise £9m, and I am pleased to announce a significant cornerstone donation from Julia and Hans Rausing, who have been long supporters of The Forward Trust.”

Speaking on the importance of the Recovery Fund, Julia and Hans Rausing said:

“Over a number of years, we have seen the excellent work that has been done by the Forward Trust in helping people move beyond addiction and provide a foundation from which they are able to rebuild their lives. This work is now more important than ever after the pandemic, and we hope that the Forward Trust’s Recovery Fund will provide people with addiction problems and their families the help and support they need to move forward with their lives in a positive direction.”

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