As you’re reading this, research is starting to emerge confirming what we all expected - people have been drinking more and more often during COVID-19.
This doesn’t come as a surprise, and many are wondering whether it will result in more Tasmanians seeking treatment.
There is no simple answer to this other than ‘time will tell’.
This is because it generally takes time for people to develop a substance use concern that requires treatment. For those Tasmanians who changed their drinking habits during COVID-19, many will likely self-manage their drinking habits back to their pre-COVID-19 levels as they transition back into their usual lifestyles.
Of course this won’t be everyone, and there are other substances of concern other than alcohol, and for some Tasmanians their pre-COVID-19 use of alcohol and other drugs was already harmful.
These individuals may already be in treatment, and we already had an existing gap in available services across Tasmania before COVID-19 that still needs addressing.
And while we may not see an immediate spike in new treatment requests, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do now.
We know that COVID-19 has captured the community’s attention about our drinking habits (the good and questionable!) and we need to make the most of this moment.
The ATDC is advocating for the Tasmanian Government to expand their investment into community campaigns raising community awareness about how to enjoy a drink while looking after your health and where to find this information.
We will also keep progressing our work with the Tasmanian Government to address the long-standing issue that we have very little data or information on alcohol and other drug use in Tasmania, which means if there is an impact we’re likely to find out after the fact.
There will be uncertainties as we emerge from COVID-19 simply because it’s a situation that is new to everyone. And while there will be challenges, we’ll keep focused on turning them into opportunities to increase understanding of, and reduce the harms of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs for Tasmanians during this time.
Chief Executive Officer