The coronavirus crisis is causing a spike in alcohol and drug use according to a leading charity.
Cumbria Drug and Alcohol Advisory Service says its helpline received up to 40 calls a week during lockdown.
And it says many people are drinking more, or using drugs, to cope with stress.
“The people calling the helpline include those with dependency problems who were recovering, but lockdown has knocked them back,” said Leigh Williams, CADAS chief executive.
“It also includes people who use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress and worries, but who have now been hit by redundancy or the potential loss of their business or other pressures.
“I am also seeing a lot of people generally talking about how they are drinking more to cope with the situation. For the majority of these, fingers crossed, they will be able to snap out of drinking early in the day or at night-time.
“But there will be some people who have developed a new habit and they will need help to stop drinking at lunch time or taking pain killers.”
CADAS has just received a grant of £25,000 over two years, from The Cumberland Building Society to allow it to appoint a part-time manager to help cope with demand for its services.
The longer-term impact of coronavirus crisis on people’s health is only starting to emerge, and youngsters are also vulnerable, says Leigh.
“Drugs and alcohol are going to be a huge issue over the next few years,” she said.
“A youth worker reported to us a big increase in cannabis use in Copeland, and nitrous oxide. We are seeing increases in substance use through lockdown among young people, maybe pinching mum and dad’s booze or accessing substances and doing it out of boredom.”
CADAS provides one-to-one and group support for adults and young people, and it also helps their carers and family members.
The Carlisle-based charity had a waiting list of more than 100 people requesting one-to-one support in April and May.
“I’m utterly grateful for this grant from The Cumberland,” said Leigh. “It allows us to create step change and increase capacity.”
The Cumberland donates a percentage of its profits to charities and last year launched a new community fund which can make multi-year awards.
Phil Ward, of The Cumberland, said: “We created the Cumberland Community Fund to allow charities like CADAS the opportunity to plan further ahead and become more sustainable.”