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Kate urges addicts to get help as lockdown sees surge in drinking and gambling

The Duchess of Cambridge has urged people struggling with addictions to seek help, as new research reveals huge numbers of Brits are drinking and gambling more under lockdown.

Up to a quarter of UK adults are consuming more alcohol as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, according to a poll by the charity Action on Addiction and YouGov.

Nearly one in four with a history of addiction has reported a recurrence of their addictive behaviour or have recently relapsed while in recovery.

The shocking statistics also show an increase in addictive behaviour from children as young as 12.

In her role as patron of the charity, Kate made a virtual visit to the Clouds House rehab centre in Wiltshire via a video call from the Cambridges' family home, Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

The Duchess, who has been involved with the organisation since 2012, talked to staff about how they have adapted their services, taking them online due to the coronavirus crisis as well as discussing fears that more people will need treatment as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

She said: "The worrying thing is, it is all those people who aren't necessarily reaching out who are struggling, who perhaps don't feel they can reach out.

"Or the fact that maybe they haven't realised that addictive behaviours have sort of established, particularly if it's the first time - and it's those people who aren't necessarily being vocal about it, it's making sure that they know they can reach out and that you are there to help and support them in this very difficult time."

Kate made her first visit to the Wiltshire centre in 2012 and has since visited the charity's bases in Essex, London, Liverpool, and Stockton-on-Tees.

The charity yesterday published research titled National Poll on Addiction Behaviours in Lockdown, sampling 2,000 Brits to examine changes to lifestyles under the Covid-19 outbreak.

One in four said they are drinking since lockdown started - resulting in nearly 12.5million people across the country.

From the sample, 15% of those adults - or up to 1.9million people - said as a result of drinking more they are experiencing problems such as relationship difficulties, managing work, sleeping problems or added debt.

The findings also suggest 4% have increased the amount of online gambling they are doing - amounting to two million people throughout the country.

Worryingly for the charity, 39% of all those surveyed said they think they would find it difficult to access support or treatment were they to need.

During her virtual visit last week Kate spoke to CEO Graham Beech, clinical lead Dr Simone Yule and treatment manager Anya Sparks, Kate, 38, asked what challenges they had been forced to overcome during the pandemic.

Dr Yule said: "We are seeing more alcohol issues and in the community.

"I think definitely we know alcohol sales have gone up exponentially, so the rise in people that are now starting to seek treatment with lockdown gradually lifting, I think that is going to have a big impact."

Mr Beech added: "We are getting enquiries and phone calls from people who are not sure where to go and are not sure that treatment is available.

"We have discovered that people are struggling during lockdown.

"More people are drinking and gambling but also we are concerned about the number of people who are struggling to maintain their recovery and are getting into relapse.

"We are particularly concerned about families and young people and the impact that lockdown and addiction is having."

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The Duchess was given a tour of the facilities, meeting former Clouds House residents Claire and Chris who are currently in the centre's aftercare programme.

Chris told the Duchess how emerging from rehab into lockdown had been a "blessing in disguise" as it made him "feel safe again".

Heaping praise on the staff who have worked throughout the coronavirus crisis to keep the centre open, Kate replied: "It's a lifeline for many people and you know and it's great that they are able to continue the support, whether remotely or those who are actually still receiving treatment now during lockdown and providing life changing support."



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