The DrugLijn is receiving more serious calls since the lockdown measures to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has started.
Some people are having a very hard time being cooped up at home, according to Tom Evenepoel, coordinator of the DrugLijn, a helpline providing anonymous information, advice and guidance about alcohol, drugs and gambling. The helpline has taken additional measures to increase its availability during the crisis.
"The first few days, it was a bit of adjustment, a new way of working and moving," Evenepoel told De Standaard. "Now that it is calmer, the psychological impact can start manifesting itself. Some start using out of boredom, or because of the loss of fixed structure, but others use it to cope with the stress, fears and loneliness of sitting at home," he added.
Drinking alone more often, taking drugs or gambling are not good coping strategies, according to the DrugLijn. "The lockdown light is a double-edged sword for a lot of people," said Evenepoel. "On the one hand, there is less group pressure encouraging people to drink. On the other hand, there is also less social control limiting the behaviour," he added.
- Coronavirus: Why are more men than women dying?
- Jambon: Crisis measures likely to be prolonged today
- Coronavirus: Exercising in 1km radius is 'not a good solution'
On social media, many people are sharing photos of themselves having "a socially distant drink" with friends over Skype, FaceTime or apps like Houseparty during Belgium's lockdown. "However, we really recommend that you adhere to the guideline of a maximum of ten glasses of alcohol per week, even in lockdown. Thinking that drinking at home is safer, for example, because you do not have to be in traffic, only increases the risk of slipping into excessive drinking," he added.
Conversely, the DrugLijn notices that some people are using the lockdown to try to stop drinking, or using drugs. "Of course, that is to be encouraged, but it is not a good idea in everyone's situation. You do not want to end up in an unexpectedly hard situation getting clean at home now that help is more difficult to reach," he added.
The Brussels Times