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Greece’s Alcohol Consumption Fell During Coronavirus Lockdown

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Survey results show that Greece’s alcohol consumption declined dramatically over lockdown. Credit: Dr.K./Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Greece’s alcohol consumption declined dramatically over the course of the coronavirus lockdown, according to some surprising research published on Wednesday.

An academic article published in the scientific journal “Addiction” used survey results from 21 European countries to determine how the coronavirus pandemic affected alcohol use.

Greece’s alcohol consumption declines

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In the academic paper written by Carolin Killian and other researchers, it was concluded that Greece experienced one of the largest average decreases in alcohol consumption recorded in the entirety of Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other countries which experienced similarly dramatic decreases in drinking over the lockdown included Albania, Finland, Italy, Slovakia, and Spain.

The answers were used to work out an average score from minus one to one. A negative result indicates a reduction in average consumption and a positive number indicating an increase.

Researchers surveyed almost 32,000 people across Europe, with varying response levels for each country. Response levels varied in number fairly dramatically, with 349 people responding in Albania and 15,686 individuals doing so in Norway.

A total of 470 individuals responded in Greece, and their answers to the researcher’s questions showed that Greeks stopped drinking as much alcohol during the COVID-19 crisis.

The results of the study attempt to show that alcohol consumption decreased mostly because of lowered affordability, due to lower wages or lack of work, during the pandemic. According to the researchers’ hypothesis, this led to people reevaluating their budgets, leading to alcohol not making the cut.

However, there was one country which did not follow the the general trend. In the UK, alcohol use actually increased over the course of the coronavirus lockdown.

The average score across the 21 countries was minus 0.14, while the UK score was 0.1; this may have to do with the general culture regarding drinking in the UK, which had recorded higher average alcohol consumption than the rest of Europe even prior to the pandemic.

Greece: where social drinking reigns supreme

Perhaps one of the reasons that drinking decreased so starkly in Greece is because of Greeks’ attitudes towards it. Greeks generally see drinking as a social activity, and may have stopped drinking when they could no longer gather with friends at a bar or restaurant due to coronavirus restrictions.

The anise-flavored drink Ouzo is deeply connected with the nation of Greece. It is simply the spirit of Greek summer which no one can copy.

It’s probably the most social drink ever distilled. Those who share this particular libation come closer, speak more easily. Ouzo is the drink of companionship and confession.

Ouzo drinking is an art. Or maybe it’s a way of life, says Matt Barrett, an American who writes about Greece. But it’s not the ouzo, it’s who you drink it with that really makes the experience.

Overall, drinking is not by any means a solitary activity in Greece, and it appears Greeks were just waiting for an opportunity to be together with friends and loved ones to imbibe.

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