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Drinking and wellbeing in lockdown – survey of Club Soda members

According to our lockdown survey, the heaviest drinkers are drinking even more alcohol, moderate drinkers are cutting down, and 90% are feeling negative emotions – but we are also enjoying more relaxation and time in nature.

Behaviour science and listening to our members are really important values at the heart of Club Soda. We’ve based everything we do on a scientific foundation and user-led design.

We follow the latest behavioural research and have collaborated with several academic and other research projects on alcohol use and other topics. For example, we participated in this report on self-efficacy which shows how we have chosen specific behaviour change techniques designed to boost your own self-efficacy. You can find out more about our own projects, the full findings from this survey, and some of our collaborations on our research page.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns taking place all over the world are clearly a major event in many people’s lives. We know that such events can have a massive impact on people’s drinking habits too. So we wanted to find out what the impact on Club Soda members has been, both to know how they are doing, and how we could best help and support them at this extraordinary time in our lives. This is what our members said.

Lockdown survey: alcohol use

Club Soda conducted an online survey in the second half of April, when all of the UK and many other parts of the world were in lockdown. We got 507 responses to the survey – thanks to everyone who took part! – mostly from our UK members (77%), but also many from North America (15%).

Over 200 of the respondents (41%) said they were already alcohol-free. Of those (still) drinking, more than half (57%) said they are now drinking more than before the pandemic, and a quarter (25%) said they are now drinking less or not at all. On average then, it seems that Club Soda members are drinking more than they used to.

This is worrying, but perhaps not a surprise. We already know that in stressful or worrying times people are more likely to drink more. Our survey findings also indicate that those of our members who already drank more moderately had managed to cut down even further. It, therefore, seems that the extremes of our drinking habits are getting further apart: some of the heaviest drinkers are drinking even more, whereas many more moderate drinkers are reducing their alcohol use. Similar findings have been reported from other surveys too.

Here is one quote from the survey responses:

It is easier in some ways because there are no bars open and no going to restaurants. I am just past 90 days sober so the re-opening will present more of a challenge for me. I have focused even more energy on my small business and taken advantages of the opportunities all of this has provided.

Mental health and wellbeing in isolation

We also asked a question about mental health. Almost everyone (91%) said they had suffered at least some negative feelings or emotions. Anxiety was the most common, but stress, alcohol cravings, sleep problems, loneliness and depression were also frequently mentioned.

But we thought there might also be some good sides to the lockdown. And indeed more than three in four (78%) found something good to say about their life now. The most commonly mentioned were feeling more relaxed, more productive at work or home, being more connected to family and friends. Doing more exercise and spending more time in nature were also noted by many.

The final question in our survey was about any help and support people felt they needed in this situation. More than two in three (69%) did have something to ask. Many said they would like to have more help and support in reducing their alcohol use. Having more motivation and encouragement, and reading stories of others who have already reduced their drinking were also mentioned several times.

Here are two more quotes from the survey responses:

Very relaxed. Sleeping well – better than normal. Liking not drinking because I’m a binger, so feel in the current situation I would be bingeing a lot.

It’s good to have somewhere to read about others experience around alcohol and to be able to share positives with people who are struggling as others did for me. Love Club Soda. Positive; inclusive; kind and informative. Thank you

Sober Weekender

Sober Weekender

These lockdown survey findings also helped us create our “Sober Weekender“: a free four-day event with daily content, emails, webinars, and online socials. The feedback from the over thousand people who took part has been amazing, and we are thinking about when we could do something similar again.

In the meantime, you can start one our How to Drink Mindfully online programmes at any time. There are two versions of the course, depending on your goal: a moderate drinking option, and an alcohol-free one.

And then watch this space as we develop more resources, like our podcast series, to support you over the next few months.

You can download and read the full lockdown survey report here.


A small request
Like lots of small social impact businesses, demand for what we do at Club Soda is going up, but our income has gone right down. If you like what we do, and you find our podcast and other content useful – please leave a tip here or join one of our behaviour change courses to help you, and us, through this time together.

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