Substance Misuse During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

As we are spending more time indoors to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) it can be tempting to turn to drugs, alcohol or smoking.  In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing. We've put together some information to help you understand the impacts and what alternatives you can do to relax.  

I heard that alcohol can protect you from catching coronavirus (COVID-19), is that true?

This is not true. 

Drinking more than the recommended weekly allowance of 14 units, which should be spread over three days at least, can increase your risk of health problems.

Also as alcohol is a depressant, it can interfere with how your brain normally works and can impact your sleeping patterns and your weight. Therefore, during times when many people are feeling more anxious, drinking alcohol can make that feeling worse. 

Graphic by WHO: Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems.

I'm bored and there's nothing else to do

It can be difficult not seeing your friends or doing the things you normally would to stave off boredom. But there are loads of ways to keep yourself entertained that don't involve drinking, smoking or drugs. 

Why not have a look at our article on things to do at home, from learning a language to exercising to game nights and much more. 

Smoking lets me get outside

It might be hard being stuck indoors for most of the day, but you should try and take advantage of getting one form of outdoor exercise per day. Going for a run, walk or cycle is not only better for our physical health but our mental health too. 

If you just want out for some fresh air, leave the cigarettes behind. Why not take the time you would use smoking to do some breathing exercises instead? It's much better for your lungs and can help you feel much calmer if you're feeling anxious.

Drugs help me forget what's going on

Current news can make us feel lots of different emotions, which is why it's important to look after your mental well-being. We've got some tips on how to look after your mental health during lockdown.

Running away from how you're feeling won't help. Here's how to face things head on.

If you have previously struggled with substance misuse

Spending time indoors and unable to access the usual face-to-face support services will be really difficult for some. 

Make sure you have people you can talk to, whether that be a friend, family member or a professional. GPs are still taking over-the-phone appointments so don't hesitate to call them if you are struggling. 

There are also a number of organisations that can offer support and advice. 


NHS Inform has lots of useful resources if you would like to talk to someone about your drinking or get some extra support.


Why not try making a Quit Plan to try and kick the habit for good?

You can also chat to your GP and your pharmacist about quitting smoking. 


Know the Score have a helpline and an email service you can use for free, confidential drugs information and advice.You can call the helpline on 0333 230 9468 (Monday – Friday 9am – 9pm, Saturday – Sunday 10am-4pm).

Check out our other information on alcohol, drugs and smoking via Choices for Life.

More information from Young Scot on Coronavirus (COVID-19)