Access to alcohol treatments has never been easier, meaning that thousands more people are getting help in reducing their drinking.
Last year was understandably a challenging, exhausting year, but statistics show that more and more people are taking charge of their mental health and related habits.
Health and social care organisation Turning Point had already moved with the times before the first UK lockdown and was offering support for drug and alcohol problems through their digital tool My Turning Point.
The utility of online platforms like My Turning Point is that they allow for greater ease of access to fit effective treatment around the user's life, a benefit that more people are recognising.
Turning Point said that in 2020 they treated 60,000 people with drug and alcohol problems. And compared to pre-pandemic levels, there was a 650% increase in the number of people engaging with their digital tool.
Additionally, in March 2021, there was a 32% increase in referrals for alcohol treatment compared with the previous year; over half of those were self-referrals, a 44% increase, meaning that substantially more people are realising the benefits of digital therapies.
- See more: 'My Therapy Assistant: Innovating connections between users and therapists'
- See more: 'How can sobriety save your mental health?'
If you are worried about your drinking, take the first steps towards taking control
Turning Point added that another significant development is that increasingly non-dependent drinkers are also making contact with services so that individuals can take control of their drinking habits before they become entrenched and problematic.
David Bremner, chief medical officer at Turning Point, said that this was an indicator of “a very clear interest and engagement from people who wouldn’t normally walk into their local drug or alcohol service”.
Nat Travis, national head of operations at Turning Point, said that while 2020 was a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to change perceptions of who should seek help when habitual drinking becomes ever more routine.
He commented: “We’d like everyone who may be thinking about reaching out for some help to take that step and realise treatment has advanced enormously in the last decade. We want to challenge the stereotypes of who should or shouldn’t get support for their drinking problem. We don’t want anyone to have to wait for their life to fall apart before they get help.”
If you are concerned about your own, or a loved one’s, alcohol use, you can contact Drinkline’s free helplines on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am – 8pm, weekends 11am – 4pm). Or you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for free on 0800 9177 650, to get help with the regular local support groups.