20 Aug, 2020 Last updated: 09 Mar, 2021

It might shock you to learn that staying at home is not the only reason drinking habits have changed during coronavirus

Author: VicHealth sharing information about the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s new campaign. VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.



Header image source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation, August 2020 


Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (20 August 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au


Familiar with subliminal advertising? It’s a technique used to expose your brain to an advertising message – without you realising it’s happening. Then later, when the message pops into your head, you're more likely to listen to it because it was your idea.


Combine hours of mindless scrolling on social media with subliminal messaging and you start to wonder who is calling the shots - you, or the ads?!


Your Facebook and Instagram feeds have been pumped full of alcohol ads


While you and the people in your life have been staying physically distant to protect each other, the alcohol industry has been leaning in:

  • A report by Cancer Council WA and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) during Victoria’s lockdown 1.0 found that, in just one hour on a Friday night, 107 sponsored alcohol ads were displayed on a personal Facebook and Instagram account. That’s approximately one alcohol advertisement every 35 seconds. That’s a lot of messages your brain is receiving, all telling you to drink alcohol to cope or ‘survive’ isolation and the pandemic.
  • Woolworths-owned rapid delivery service Jimmy Brings is promoting drinking ‘no matter what day it is’, telling your isolated brain that ‘every day feels the same...so you might as well order some alcohol, right?’
  • Dan Murphy’s is doing virtual ‘after work drinks’, by bringing ‘gin to your door’, blurring the line between staying connected and drinking their products.


While coronavirus restrictions are temporary, the life-threatening effects of dangerous drinking habits can continue.



Freeing yourself from dangerous habits

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s new Break the Habit campaign is about breaking a little habit before it becomes a big problem.


It takes 66 days to create a habit, and most Australians have been in different stages of lockdown for longer than that. During COVID-19, research shows more people are drinking, and people are drinking more. Habit formation expert from the University of Melbourne, Associate Professor Terry Bowles, said many of us may have picked up or formed new habits over the last few months without even realising it.

A survey of 1,000 Australians aged 18-65 also found 12 per cent of people drank more alcohol than usual during lockdown, and 10% said that on average, they drank more than the recommended National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) draft guidelines, consuming more than 11 standard drinks per week. This increases the risk of alcohol-related injury and diseases like cancer.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Break the Habit campaign highlights that even small increases to the amount of alcohol you drink can become harder to shift over time. It’s more important than ever that we prioritise our health and wellbeing. The less alcohol people consume, the lower the risk of alcohol-related accidents, injuries, dependence and chronic illness, such as cancer. Less alcohol can also help people feel less stressed or anxious, sleep better, lose weight, improve relationships and save money.

The Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation’s Break the Habit campaign, 2019, littlehabit.com.au/break-the-habit


Find out how your drinking measures up, try out the quick and interactive drinking calculator on the Break the Habit campaign page.


If you’re concerned that your drinking habits have changed, check out Hello Sunday Morning for more information and tips on how to cut down or quit drinking.


Have a coronavirus question?

For all coronavirus questions visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.