Drinking in the sun: Heatwaves risk rise in alcohol addiction, as social habits escalate into problem drinking, according to experts

Date: 19th June 2023

  • Summer fun too often involves increased drinking, say alcohol addiction experts, as they issue heatwave advice
  • Drinkers need to re-think relationship with alcohol, advise Consultant Psychiatrists at Priory
  • New report says there are already 600,000 alcohol addicts in the UK with an “alarming increase in alcohol-related deaths”

Experts at Priory are urging people to reconsider their drinking habits, as they warn regular heatwaves may lead to a significant increase in alcohol consumption.

Specialists are asking people to keep a check on their drinking habits before excess drinking becomes the norm, risking addiction.

Dr William Shanahan, Clinical Director of Addictions at Priory, said: “For many people, enjoying the occasional alcoholic drink in the sunshine is a harmless pleasure. However, if you associate sun with alcohol, then dangerous habits can form. If the UK starts to see longer, hotter summers, then a lot of people will need to reconsider their relationship with alcohol in the summer months.”

Psychiatrists at Priory, the UK’s leading independent provider of addiction and mental health services, have issued the warning ahead of Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs 3-9 July.

Dr David McLaughlan, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton and Co-Founder of Curb, a new addictive behaviour change app, said: “If you are finding yourself drinking at home in the garden increasingly often, then you might be forming risky habits. The key is to form new behaviours that replace the old ones. Find something else that you enjoy doing in the sunshine, so your brain no longer associates sun with alcohol.

“Because alcohol is largely embedded within social culture, drinkers often forget that it is an addictive substance. It is vital that we avoid consistent or increasing consumption.

A House of Commons report into alcohol treatment services last month (May) said there are an estimated 10 million people in England who regularly exceed drinking guidelines, including 1.7 million who drink at higher risk and around 600,000 who are dependent on alcohol, with an “alarming increase in alcohol-related deaths”.

Without expert support, alcohol addiction can cause a range of long-term physical and psychological problems, and can be fatal.

Dr McLaughlan added: “There are a number of signs to look out for that may suggest you’re struggling with alcoholism and should seek support. These can include finding that you’ve built a tolerance to alcohol, meaning that you need to drink more to feel ‘drunk’; drinking heavily on your own; intense cravings for alcohol, to the extent that these affect your mood and concentration levels.

“These things can ultimately lead to missing out on special occasions due to your drinking habits, feeling as though alcohol has taken over your life, and lying or being deceptive about your drinking habits. Once addiction takes hold, people will continue to drink despite the negative effects it has had on home, work and social life, as well as your mental health.”

For medical support, people can contact their GP, call NHS 111, or contact Priory specialists for a free addiction assessment.

A free, NHS endorsed app, My Possible Self, created in partnership with Priory, offers a range visual and audio exercises to help manage mental health.



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About Priory and MEDIAN

Priory is the UK’s leading independent provider of mental health services. We treat more than 70 conditions, including depression, anxiety, addictions and eating disorders, as well as children’s mental health, across our nationwide network of sites. We also support autistic adults and adults with a learning disability, Prader-Willi Syndrome and brain injuries, as well as older people, within our specialist residential care and supported living facilities – helping as many people as possible to live their lives.

Priory is part of the MEDIAN Group, one of Europe’s leading providers of high quality mental health and rehabilitation services. The MEDIAN Group comprises 290 facilities with 5,000 beds caring for 28,000 people in the UK, 120 facilities with 20,000 beds caring for around 250,000 patients in Germany, and 15 facilities with 2,000 beds caring for 13,000 people in Spain, with more than 29,000 employees overall.

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