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News : Calls to Helpline Increase as Alcohol Sales Rise During Lockdown


Auckland, New Zealand, Sept 6, 2021 -- Alcohol sales spiked on the eve of level 4, and an advocate says the ease and speed of alcohol delivery since then is making a tough time even harder for some.

The stresses of lockdown had South Island man Jason turning to the tipple.

"To sustain a cooler disposition around cagey children," he said.

"The kids are basically losing their s**t all the time, so me and mum are just sitting down and drinking wine a lot more often than we would.

"A lot more wine and a lot more crafty beers."

His drinking has more than doubled - from a few beers on the weekend to basically every evening.

"I see it as a boredom killer at the moment and I guess as a stress-coping mechanism because of trying to house hunt, having eight of us in the house from three generations and then other family [stuff] that's going on at the moment.

"So it's kind of been quietening thoughts, I guess you'd say."

Justin Lester from research firm Dot Loves Data said alcohol sales jumped nearly 500 percent before lockdown three weeks ago.

Since then online alcohol sales have been roaring along.

"Say for example on the 23rd of August alone alcohol spend online was up 417 percent nationally, compared with last year."

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Lester said while it does not have access to supermarket alcohol sales data, the numbers seem to indicate people were imbibing more.

"More alcohol is certainly being purchased ... average transactions are much larger in size and the number of transactions is also significantly up.

"Whether or not that leads to, post-lockdown, people spending less on alcohol ... because they have stockpiled.

"But what we're continuing to see is people are drinking more."

Regional Wines and Spirits warehouse manager Stefan Prentice said its lockdown sales were slightly down on normal.

He said in last year's lockdown people got stuck into the less common wine varieties, while this time around Belgian beer and speciality spirits were surging in popularity.

"We're finding people that are trying whiskies.

"And we're finding that the demand on the local gin is huge. Instead of buying the regular Gordon's and Bombay, Tanqueray, they're stepping out and buying locally produced gins - it's becoming a huge market."

A survey after last year's level 4 lockdown by Te Hiringa Hauora/ the Health Promotion Agency showed one in five people drank more, a third drank less, while half stayed about the same.

While there are not yet figures this time around, David Codyre from the National Telehealth Service Whakarongorau said there has been an increase in people calling concerned about how much they - or their loved ones - were drinking.

"One of the key things that would indicate that you have a problem with your drinking is when other people are worried about it.

"So I think it's the fact that family, whanau members, flatmates, friends are ringing with a concern about the drinking of someone they know."

Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Dr Nicki Jackson said making liquor easily available via delivery as an essential product during lockdown did not help people make healthy choices in a time of significant stress.

She was particularly irate about what she saw as broadcast media personalities endorsing drinking to cope during lockdown.

"That's simply just not acceptable, it's an incredibly harmful drug and people are kind of trapped in their homes.

"We know that alcohol fuels domestic violence, it increases the likelihood and severity of family harm and you've got children around. It's important that we're not modelling drinking as a way to cope."

Jackson said anyone wanting help for problem drinking should call or text 1737, speak to their doctor, or a Maori health provider.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

Drug Help website

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

OUTLine: 0800 688 5463 (6pm-9pm)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

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Published: Tuesday, September 7, 2021

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