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Alcohol and your health during COVID-19

During this challenging time, your health and wellbeing is more important than ever. The whole country is adapting to a new normal but there are particular challenges for us as health service staff. Many of us are working long hours and in new roles during the COVID-19 crisis. This may put additional strain on our physical and mental health.

During this time we may drink more alcohol than usual. But alcohol has a negative impact on our mental health. It can make stressful times feel even worse.

There are many reasons why we should cut back on drinking alcohol during the COVID-19 crisis.

These include:

  • when we drink too much, we can be less aware of social distancing and contamination
  • alcohol can make our immune system less effective, impacting its ability to fight off viruses
  • alcohol affects our sleep quality, making it even harder to cope in stressful times
  • cutting down on alcohol has many health benefits

Problem drinking can cause mental health symptoms such as:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • poor concentration
  • personality changes, with negative effects on those we live with

See: How alcohol affects your mental health

Contact HSE Helpline at 1800 459 459 or between 9.30am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday

Tips to help you drink less

  1. Develop and maintain a familiar routine that involves regular sleep, mealtimes and relaxation.
  2. Don’t stockpile - we’re likely to reach for a drink more often if it’s available to us.
  3. Work out ways to relax and treat yourself without alcohol, for example, reading, family board games or exercise.
  4. If you drink, stick to the low-risk weekly drinking guidelines

It's a good idea to set rules around your drinking. This could include not drinking before 10 pm, on weekdays or in front of children.

See: Low-risk alcohol guidelines

Getting help

If you have concerns or cannot stop drinking, contact the HSE Helpline for support. The service is available between 9.30 am and 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday.

Telephone: 1800 459 459


Related content

HSE information on minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Page last reviewed: 15/05/2020
Next review due: 15/05/2023