Alcohol is an "unhelpful coping strategy" for the possible stress and isolation of coronavirus lockdown, a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert has warned.
The UN agency acknowledged that many turn to drugs and alcohol in times of crisis, as a new survey suggested the pandemic has caused nearly two thirds of adults to feel anxious or worried.
But using substances to cope "can make things worse", cautioned Dr Aiysha Malik, a technical officer at WHO Europe's mental health and substance abuse department.
It is also vital that drug and alcohol services remain accessible throughout lockdown, Dr Malik said, as those with substance use disorders may face a higher risk of relapse.
Dr Richard Piper warned that "with routines out of the window we might well find ourselves reaching for a drink more often".
But it is logical to predict that alcohol only being available for home consumption may lead to rises in domestic violence, fires and potential increases dependence, according to James Morris of South Bank London University's centre for addictive behaviours research.
"Predicting the longer-term behavioural impact is however particularly difficult. Perhaps for some, home drinking may become more embedded, potentially exacerbated by the further closure of already struggling pubs and bars," Mr Morris wrote for the Society for the Study of Addiction.
"For others, the period could highlight how valuable public and social drinking settings are, resulting in a boom in drinking out to celebrate the end of isolation."
WHO Europe also said that mental health services should prepare for a surge in need as a result of the pandemic and essential social distancing measures.
Its panel of experts also warned on Thursday that being classed as "vulnerable" could induce anxiety and stress.
Dr Malik highlighted basic strategies to help people look after their mental wellbeing, including eating healthily, exercise, ensuring they get enough sleep and social support.