Alcohol-related harm in families and alcohol consumption during COVID-19

Harm reduction Alcohol Alcohol harms Consumer behaviour Australia

This paper explores alcohol-related harm within families and the best available evidence on alcohol consumption during the restrictions related to COVID-19 in Australia, from March to July 2020. Drawing on a scoping review of survey data and established evidence, the paper explores what alcohol-related harm looks like, what we know about alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm during the early stages of COVID-19, and how practitioners can adopt a harm-minimisation approach when working with clients.

This publication is intended to provide the basis for practitioners without specialist alcohol and other drug training to gain a greater understanding of how alcohol consumption changed during COVID-19, to better understand potential alcohol-related harms, and to develop strategies to support clients who may be experiencing harm themselves or in their families.

Key messages:

  • Alcohol-related harm in a family can present in a number of ways, from interrupted sleep and difficulty caregiving through to experiencing or perpetrating abuse and violence. While small amounts of alcohol can cause harm, the level of harm can differ according to the circumstances of a family.
  • While a large proportion of people maintained their consumption of alcohol at pre-COVID-19 levels during March-July 2020 in Australia, people reporting higher levels of stress and women were more likely to increase their alcohol consumption.
  • A short discussion with clients in the form of a 'brief intervention' can help identify current or potential alcohol-related harms and appropriate referral pathways when significant harm is present.
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CFCA Paper 60