Published on: Friday 12th February 2021

New telephone service to help people cut back launched in Surrey

While some people are now drinking less than usual due to pubs and clubs being closed, a recent Surrey County Council investigation into the effects of the pandemic on Surrey residents has revealed that 35% of people have consumed more alcohol than usual since the pandemic began.

Prior to the pandemic, 28% of adults in Surrey were already estimated to be drinking at ‘increasing risk’ and ‘higher risk’ levels – or more than the maximum recommended amount per week   – and so increasing their risk of harm.

“We know that people in Surrey are drinking more alcohol and there is a real concern than this means the number of people drinking above the recommended limit of fourteen units a week has also increased” said Alison Foulser, Manager at i-access, Surrey’s drug and alcohol support service.

“This time has been, and still is, a period of stress, uncertainty and anxiety – all of which can be triggers for reaching for a drink. Research shows that in lockdown people are drinking on more days of the week than usual, having their first alcoholic drink earlier in the day, drinking alone when they wouldn’t usually and finding it more difficult to stop at just one drink. 

“As we experience our third national lockdown, it’s a good time to take stock and assess your drinking habits before they become ingrained.

“Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has introduced new alcohol support sessions for those who want to cut down. You can refer yourself to receive up to six 30-minute telephone sessions with an NHS alcohol specialist using proven techniques to help you reduce your alcohol intake and prevent problems from escalating.”

To refer yourself for alcohol support sessions, complete a short online form at or call i-access on 0300 222 5932, 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.

The team at i-access have also provided the following advice for those looking to cut back their intake and have more alcohol-free days:

  • Keeping a drink diary or log - this will help you become more mindful of your drinking
  • Being clear on what your limit is and not going over it - make sure you don’t have extra alcohol in the house and be honest with friends and family with what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Alternating between alcohol and soft drinks to remain hydrated - often we consume more alcohol due to being thirsty, so this could help reduce your intake.
  • Setting yourself drinking times – if you’ve found yourself drinking earlier in the day, start setting yourself times later in the day to help you reduce your intake.

You can check your drinking levels by completing the DrinkCoach Alcohol Test at This is an anonymous online survey to help you spot the signs of problem drinking.