Nearly half of Britons have admitted they are drinking earlier in the day, twice as high as nations at the other end of the spectrum.
A survey of 40,000 people across the world revealed Britain tops the table among 12 countries on a number of drinking parameters.
Nearly 47 per cent of people who drink reported starting earlier in the day than usual during the pandemic, compared with 23 per cent in Greece.
Britons say that the unprecedented lockdown – imposed on March 23 – has triggered boredom and anxiety that has left them reaching for the bottle.
More than half said they had increased the number of days they drink on and a third revealed they were binge-drinking more often.
Despite pubs being closed, off-licences have stayed open and the stockpiling panic in the early days of the crisis saw supermarket shelves swiped of alcohol.
Those who have managed to cut back on their drink – around a quarter – said they had more money and better physical and mental health for it.
The survey findings come after official statistics showed the amount of alcohol sold jumped by almost 34 per cent over March and April.
Nearly half of Britons admit they are drinking earlier in the day, twice as high as nations at the other end of the spectrum – Greece, Germany and Switzerland – a survey has revealed
The findings come from the Global Drug Survey and give an insight into the coping mechanisms people have adopted during the Covid-19 crisis.
It found 31 per cent of people globally are drinking earlier in the day, which jumps up to 47 per cent in the UK.
Some 30 per cent have increased their drinking days ‘a little’, (35 per cent in the UK), and 13 per cent have increased it ‘a lot’ (20.6 per cent in the UK).
A quarter of global respondents said the number of days they drank had decreased during Covid-19, while 29 per cent had seen no change.
When asked how often they were binge drinking – at least five drinks, such as a bottle of beer or glass of wine, in one session – a quarter said this was occuring more often than in February. But 30 per cent said this was happening less often.
Overall, 11 per cent of people surveyed said they had drunk every single day in the past month. This was not broken down into countries.
The UK places in the top three countries for every drinking measure out of the 12 countries who have participated so far.
Countries who are on the lower end of the scale – with less dramatic increases in drinking habits – include Greece, Germany and Switzerland.
A closer look at the UK’s statistics show that of 1,100 survey respondents, a third are binge-drinking more often, which is higher than the average.
Some 35 per cent are drinking on more days of the week than usual, while 20 per cent are drinking on a lot more days.
Four in ten people said their physical and mental health had suffered as a result, which is higher than the global figure.
But the same amount said it was their anxiety that had them drinking more alcohol in the first place, almost double the 25 per cent globally, alongside boredom and too much time.
‘The survey shows that what you do matters. In a short period, people are feeling worse off mentally and physically through drinking,’ Professor Adam Winstock, a consultant psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist and founder and director of the survey, told The Guardian.
‘And we see the real significant benefits of drinking less. This is not about being sober and not getting tipsy. Just drop a day or two to see a difference.’
Professor Winstock told Vice social media had largely normalised heavy drinking during lockdown, but that ‘you don’t have to follow the herd’.
In the UK, more than half said they had increased their drinking days
Percentage of people who have increase their binge drinking (five drinks or more) either a little or a lot: Some 30 per cent have increased their drinking days ‘a little’, (35 per cent in the UK), and 13 per cent have increased it ‘a lot’ (20.6 per cent in the UK)
HALF OF BRITONS HAVE GAINED WEIGHT DURING PANDEMIC
Half of Britons admit they have piled on the pounds during lockdown – putting them more at risk of coronavirus.
A study by King’s College London also found 41 per cent of adults did not leave their home on five of the previous seven days leading up to this latest survey and 46 per cent of parents say the same applied to their children.
The worrying finding comes after NHS data revealed severely overweight people are more likely to die from COVID-19.
The survey of more than 2,250 people in England, Wales and Scotland between May 20 and May 22 also revealed a third of people have consumed more alcohol than they normally would, up from 19 per cent in early April.
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, told MailOnline: ‘The fact that so many people admit to putting on weight should surprise no one. This will be substantially more obesity due to comfort eating and snacking than the regrettable lack of exercise.
‘When COVID-19 is over and the true effect on Britain’s waistlines is reported expect draconian health measures. Boris Johnson has vowed to launch a war on fat through fear of a second wave but he won’t win it if the measures required are not immediately implemented.’
Four in 10 said they felt more lonely than usual, while 35 per cent have postponed seeking medical advice or treatment unrelated to Covid-19.
A vthird of the country has halted their NHS treatment due to fears about catching the virus in hospital or being a burden on the health service.
Almost 28 per cent of respondents said they were drinking on less days, while almost 36 per cent were binge drinking less often. Their finances had been boosted as a result, two-thirds said, and their physical health had improved.
Overall, 42 per cent of participants said they would like to drink less in the next 30 days, and the researchers pointed to their free, anonymous app the Drinks Meter for guidance on how to do so.
The report comes the same day that research from King’s College London, conducted in May, reports nearly a third of people in the UK (29 per cent) are drinking more than they typically would.
That’s an increase on the 19 per cent reported in April, according to interviews with more than 2,250 adults, by the Policy Institute at King’s in partnership with Ipsos MORI.
Commenting on the findings, Colin Drummond, a professor of addiction psychiatry at King’s College London, said: ‘Alcohol consumption and mental health are intimately linked. An increase in isolation, mental distress, depression and anxiety is likely to have been a factor driving increased alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic.’
Another survey from Alcohol Change UK found one in five British adults – around 8.6million – who drink alcohol are drinking more frequently since lockdown.
More than one in three of the 1,555 drinkers said they have either stopped drinking or reduced how often they drink since March. Six per cent have stopped drinking entirely.
Ian Hamilton, an associate professor of addiction at University of York, said recent surveys show those who were already drinkers have seen their habits worsen.
He told MailOnline: ‘Essentially there are two distinct groups emerging; the first were drinking low amounts or were abstinent prior to Covid and during Covid have reduced their drinking further or continued being abstinent. The second group who were drinking at hazardous levels prior to Covid are now consuming even more alcohol.
‘This shouldn’t be a surprise as retail sales of alcohol have risen and people are isolated and bored, two factors that we know increase alcohol intake.’
Sales of alcohol have soared by 33.7 per cent since the lockdown, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The March retail report showed a spike of 31.4 per cent in purchasing of alcohol, likely a result of stockpiling, while sales increased by a smaller 2.3 per cent in April.
Some 12,000 people responded to the questions in the Global Drug Survey about cannabis use, with 40.9 per cent reporting increased use of THC containing products – which are those that get you high.
The UK has seen the second highest jump (23 per cent) after Australia (26 per cent). Once again, the most common reasons included excess time.
The report said: ‘For drugs like cannabis that many people use regularly regardless of social context. Having more time on your hands and being bored appears to be the main reason, with secondary factors including addressing mood and worries.’
MDMA and cocaine use has dramatically reduced, with 40 per cent saying they had consumed less during the pandemic, mainly because they were not seeing friends they do it with.
The UK was among the top countries to have cut back (37 per cent), despite London being dubbed the ‘cocaine capital’ of Europe.
In this survey, 39 per cent said they had taken cocaine in the past year, the second largest amount just behind the Netherlands, and 34 per cent MDMA.
The majority of participants of this survey were young, experienced with the use of illicit drugs, and employed or in education
Globally, around 35 per cent of participants who take anxiety curbing benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, reported increased useage during the pandemic.
‘Increases in benzodiazepine use can be viewed as a coping strategy and their use may compensate for access to other drugs,’ the report said.
It warned misuse and dependence of benzos are a real concern, especially because withdrawal can be potentially life threatening.