Alcohol sales have spiked during the past month. It has long been acknowledged that Scotland has an ‘unhealthy relationship with alcohol’. Too much drinking carries with it heavy personal, economic, health and societal costs. The combination of being home-bound, feeling extraordinary stress or fear, as well as the cultural tendency to turn to both sex and alcohol for comfort and relief makes increasingly risky behaviour a near certainty.
One example of predictable ‘collateral damage’ from the current pandemic will be a significant rise in the cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) across Scotland.
Alcohol exposure in utero is the world’s leading cause of neurodevelopmental (brain and nervous system) damage, learning disabilities and behavioural problems. FASD cannot be cured, reversed or outgrown, as it permanently compromises lives and life chances, e.g. by school failure, substance abuse, as well as being troubled and in trouble.
In fact, FASD is invisible in 90 per cent of the people affected and can be difficult to confirm, which means it is often misdiagnosed or simply overlooked – for instance, while the Scottish Government estimates that approximately 172,000 children, young and adults across Scotland are currently affected, there are between 500 and 1,000 undiagnosed FASD cases for every one officially confirmed.
There is no risk-free time during pregnancy, no safe type of alcohol or risk-free amount - which is why all four UK Chief Medical Officers advise that no alcohol should be consumed during pregnancy or if likely to conceive (including in the weeks/months before pregnancy is confirmed). Yet FASD is preventable in either of two ways: by not drinking during pregnancy - or by not getting pregnant while continuing to drink.
Is anything being said - or, better still, being done - to help prevent this specific ‘collateral damage’? Since most people are riveted on new information about what can be done to avoid harm during this pandemic, there is a great opportunity in this moment to prevent FASD.
Alcohol is known to be harmful to health in general, and is well understood to increase the risk of injury and violence, including intimate partner violence, and can cause alcohol poisoning. At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence. WHO/Europe reminds people that drinking alcohol does not protect them from COVID-19, and encourages governments to enforce measures which limit alcohol consumption.
Busting myths on alcohol and COVID-19 As part of its public health response to COVID-19, WHO has worked with partners to develop a factsheet which addresses myths and provides guidance during the pandemic: “Alcohol and COVID-19: what you need to know”. Fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not. Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death.
Expert fears shift to home drinking may fuel increases in violence, fires and dependence
The UN agency acknowledged that many turn to drugs and alcohol in times of crisis, as a new survey suggested the pandemic has caused nearly two thirds of adults in the UK to feel anxious or worried.
But using substances to cope “can make things worse”, cautioned Dr Aiysha Malik, a technical officer at WHO Europe’s mental health and substance abuse department.
Dr Piper warned that “with routines out of the window we might well find ourselves reaching for a drink more often”.
Initial reports of supermarkets running out of alcohol and online retailers being overwhelmed with orders may point to a possible increase in consumption, but experts say it is too early to tell the overall impact that coronavirus will have on the nation’s drinking habits.
But it is logical to predict that alcohol only being available for home consumption may lead to rises in domestic violence, fires and potential increases dependence, according to James Morris of South Bank London University’s centre for addictive behaviours research.
By VANESSA CHALMERS HEALTH REPORTER FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 31 January 2020
Blurred vision and slurred speech are expected when someone has drank too much.
How alcohol harms the brain in the long term is not so clearly understood - particularly how it ages the brain.
Now, a study has found drinkers who like a pint of beer or glass of wine every day show more signs their vital organ is shrinking.
Researchers looked at brain scans from thousands of Britons aged between 45 to 81, and compared it with their drinking habits.
For every extra gram of alcohol consumed per day, participants brains' were 0.02 years older - the equivalent of a day and a half.
An 'old' brain would show more signs of deterioration than the brains of average people the same age in scans.
In the 11,600 individuals for whom information on drinking behavior was collected, those who drank alcohol on most days had a higher relative brain age than those who drank less frequently or not at all.
An alleged drunk driver lost control of his vehicle in the Sydney suburb of Oatlands, ploughing into a group of seven children. They had been riding their bikes along a footpath on their way to buy ice cream, family members said.Samuel Davidson, 29, was on Sunday denied bail and charged by the Parramatta court on 20 counts, including manslaughter and drink driving. He allegedly had a blood alcohol level three times over the legal limit.The horrific incident caused the deaths of 13-year-old Antony Abdullah and his siblings Angelina, 12, and Sienna, 9, as well as their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11.
"Yesterday I lost three of my children. I had a cousin, Bridget, she lost her daughter as well," Daniel Abdullah said on Sunday morning according to AFP. Leila and Daniel Abdullah are left with three remaining children.
"I'm numb, probably that's how I feel at the moment," he said, adding that his children had gone on to "a better place".
"All I just want to say is, please, drivers be careful. These kids were just walking innocently, enjoying each others' company and this morning I woke up, I have lost three kids."
A makeshift memorial was put in place overnight at the site of the crash, with people coming to place flowers, teddy bears and candles.Another three children from the Lebanese-Australian family were injured in the crash, with the Abdullahs' 10-year-old son in hospital in a serious but stable condition.The tragic incident has been widely shared on social media in Lebanon, with many paying their respects.
Lebanon's foreign ministry has instructed the country's ambassador to Australia to follow up on the incident and aid the grieving families, The Daily Star reported.Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Archbishop of Australia's Maronite Diocese, also gave his condolences for the families. The Living Maronite organisation added on its Facebook page: "Tonight before you sleep we ask that you remember in your prayers a young Maronite family from our Parish who has been devastatingly affected by a serious accident."
How many more lives? How many more? We need a Zero B.A.C. For all drivers as well as a Zero Illicit Drug Content for ALL drivers. Yet we continue to passively promote or at the very least give a tacit approval of growing drug use of all kinds, and expect Road Tolls, Family Violence and/or Hospitalizations do drop! The cognitive dissonance in culture and policy is breathtaking. Children are always the ones who pay the greatest price in ‘drug approved’ environments. The pro-drug and pro-alcohol lobby declare ‘you cant arrest your way out of this mess’. Be rest assured, as we repeatedly declare – ‘you most definitely wont be able to ‘treat’ your way out either!”