WFH norms make drinking at home easy

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By: Harshitha Kumayaa
CHENNAI: Before the pandemic, Anitha S used to party away the weekend with friends. But all that stopped once lockdown began. But several months into the new work routine, the 32-year-old found herself experimenting with new cocktail recipes to break the monotony of working from home.
“It began as a weekend ritual, but I began enjoying it and now make cocktails at least four times a week and drink while working,” says Anitha, adding that it’s also cheaper than grabbing a drink at a pub. “Sipping on a cosmopolitan or margarita while working long hours makes the day less tiresome.”
Raising a toast to your colleagues andfriends virtually or fixing a drink to keep stress at bay – more young adults and working professionals are now drinking more often and during the day. And work from home (WFH) schedules are making it easier for some to drink on the job.
Soumya Shankarraman, consultant, therapy team, T T Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation, says there has been a significant rise in the number of youngsters taking to alcohol while at work.
“Now that some people are beginning to go to work, companies are referring employees who are showing signs of alcohol abuse, such as irritability, poor interpersonal relationship, and frequent absence from work,” she says, adding that the many have taken to the bottle due to the high stress, uncertainty and disruption in workschedules.
Arivu Arasan, counsellor, Centre for deaddiction, Chennai Corporation hospital, Royapettah, also says that WFH has definitely contributed to a rise in anxiety and stress level in people, leading to an increase in both the frequency and quantity of consumption. “I used to provide counselling for a couple of people every day but now I have to attend to about 15 patients every day,” he says.
Vellanki Ram Babu, chief counsellor, Divine Life Foundation, a Maduravoyal-based deaddiction centre, says his organization has been receiving more than 12 calls from new clients every week, in the last three months. “Before the pandemic, we would get barely two new clients every week,” he says.
Research analyst Maheshwaran, 30, says he began drinking more than three times a week as it helps him fend off the anxiety of being stuck at home. He also believes being tipsy helps him ‘get into the zone’ to write copies during his shift.
“My colleague and I open an additional tab with Zoom video call to drink while working from our respective homes,” he said.
Khushali Manikandan, clinical psychologist, Adambakkam says drinking is not a problem until an individual loses control over the limits. “There is a difference between habitual drinkers and addicts. For those working from home, thelockdown hasopened an opportunity to entertain themselves with alcohol,” she says. “Though it could initially be viewed as a stress buster, continual drinking could affect the whole family indirectly and early intervention is necessary.

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