Health Agenda

Mental Health

Are you drinking too much alcohol?

How do you know when your drinking habits have moved from healthy to harmful? We’ve partnered with not-for-profit organisation, Hello Sunday Morning, to give HCF members the chance to change their relationship with alcohol, one day at a time.

Life in lockdown has given many of us the chance to spend quality time with family and to focus on staying connected to our loved ones. But for some of us, the uncertainty and the pressures of being isolated, of losing our job or dealing with family tension has added more stress and anxiety to our lives.

The way we deal with emotional turmoil is different for everyone, but for many Australians, excessive drinking is a habit used to get through the tough times. In fact 40% of Australians report drinking alcohol as one way to cope with stress.

As most of the country was locked down in May this year, The Australian National University conducted a national survey that found rates of alcohol consumption during this time increased slightly for men and substantially for women. The lead researcher, Professor Nicholas Biddle, said the increase was higher among some groups, “including women aged between 35 and 44, women who reported a large increase in caring responsibilities, and men whose hours of work had been cut back during the pandemic”.

Our spending habits changed as a result, too. A recent poll commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) showed one in five Australians purchased more alcohol than usual during the pandemic and 70% of them were drinking greater amounts of alcohol than normal. The poll also revealed 28% of people drank alcohol to cope with anxiety and stress, and almost one third of those people were concerned about their own drinking or someone in their household’s drinking habits.

As the World Health Organization recently stated, alcohol can be an “unhelpful coping strategy for the stress of social isolation” – but how do you know if you have a dependence on alcohol? Some of the red flags include:

  • drinking heavily on your own
  • hiding your alcohol consumption
  • experiencing guilt over drinking
  • using alcohol to cope with uncomfortable situations
  • feeling withdrawal symptoms when you go without alcohol.

Alcohol can have negative side effects on your health, from increased risk of cancer, diabetes, liver disease and heart issues through to brain damage and serious mental health issues.

Helping you with Hello Sunday Morning

If you’ve consumed alcohol more often during isolation or if you feel like your long-term drinking habits are not good for your mental or physical health, then you’re not alone. There are ways to take the first positive step to change your relationship with alcohol, whether your goal is to cut back or stop drinking altogether.

Hello Sunday Morning’s Daybreak app is a digital service that connects you anonymously with an online community dealing with the same issues as you, available 24/7, and health coaches to help you reflect on your relationship with alcohol and understand the triggers that make you drink, all in a trusted and secure space.

Unlike other alcohol support courses, the Daybreak app doesn’t ask you to follow a one size fits all’ program or attend meetings. Instead, you customise the program according to your own needs knowing that every day is different in your relationship with alcohol.

All Australians get free access to the Daybreak app, but we’ve partnered with not-for-profit organisation Hello Sunday Morning to give HCF members even more support to help them change their relationship with alcohol.

Daybreak experience for our members

If you download the secure Daybreak app as an HCF member (from 31 July), you can get help from a service that works around your personal goals with a higher level of access to Daybreak’s clinical team compared with non-members, as well as extra help and resources. The Daybreak app gives you:

  • personalised assessments
  • health coaching from trained professionals
  • constant encouragement from people with a shared experience
  • reading material to keep a positive mental mindset.

The Daybreak app also links HCF members to support programs that may be available with your cover, including PSYCH2U, and has information on how to access Medicare-funded services that suit your personal health needs.

Linda Opie, Head of Health and Wellbeing at HCF, says: “Hello Sunday Morning has developed health coaching and strategies that have already helped more than 100,000 people drink less in a supportive and non-judgemental environment.

“We’re proud to join forces with this movement to help our members kickstart their own healthy habits and to help change Australia’s relationship with alcohol,” says Linda.

“HCF’s partnership with Hello Sunday Morning reflects our broader commitment to provide members with a holistic mental health and wellbeing program and Uncommon Care, including access to options that give members the freedom to choose what’s right for them,” says Linda.

By acknowledging you need to make changes to your drinking habits, you’re taking the first step to creating a healthier, happier future for you and your loved ones. Download it on the App Store or with Google Play.

Where to find expert help

If you are concerned about your mental health and wellbeing, talk to your GP.

If you are feeling depressed or anxious and need to talk to someone now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


Words by HCF
First published July 2020

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