‘When I open it, I have to drink it all’: push and pull factors shaping domestic alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic UK Spring 2020 lockdown

Dominic Conroy, Emily Nicholls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. The closure of licensed venues during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that most alcohol has been consumed at home during lockdown periods in the UK, a phenomenon which remains under-researched despite the public health implications. Methods. This paper draws on a study consisting of online semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 20 UK drinkers, conducted between the first and second 2020 UK lockdowns. The study aimed to explore changing and enduring UK drinking practices within home spaces during the pandemic. Results. Our findings illuminate specific ways in which assemblages and contextual factors may come together to encourage or mitigate against the consumption of any (or excessive) volumes of alcohol at home during lockdown. For example, the physical presence of alcohol bottles may both encourage consumption (e.g., compulsion to finish an open bottle of wine) and cue reflection on one’s drinking (through the potentially confronting presence of empty bottles after domestic drinking). We also highlight the significance of the home as a space separate from – and different to – public drinking spaces. Discussion and Conclusions. With the increasing normalisation of domestic drinking during a global pandemic, this paper illuminates several factors that may encourage or curtail domestic alcohol consumption and invites us to consider the importance of assemblages, space and context. Such findings have wider applicability; for example consideration of specific (and perhaps unique) push and pull factors of home spaces could inform future alcohol policy, health promotion messages and how guidance around ‘moderation’ or risky drinking is communicated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275-1283
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number6
Early online date27 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

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