Victoria's alcohol services have experienced a surge in demand as many locked-down residents turned to the bottle, a new poll shows.
The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association surveyed services across the state between December and January to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on client presentations.
Of the 38 agencies, 70 per cent said alcohol featured either "a lot more" or "a bit more" as a drug of concern.
VAADA executive officer Sam Biondo said the result confirmed widespread anecdotal evidence from support services throughout 2020.
"Not only have the number of people dealing with alcohol issues increased, but we have also consistently heard from services that there is a greater level of severity among those presenting with alcohol issues," he said on Friday.
"We have also been consistently hearing that people new to treatment are seeking help, often mums and dads, following increased alcohol consumption during the restrictions.
"The adverse circumstances generated by COVID-19 combined with an opportunistic alcohol industry has resulted in a surge in people desperate for help with alcohol dependency."
VAADA said it was common for alcohol consumption to rise in natural disaster-affected areas, citing Victoria's 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and the 2010/11 Queensland floods as examples.
With the state budget to be delivered next week, Mr Biondo suggested already stretched alcohol and other drug services needed a funding injection.
"We need to ensure that services are adequately funded to deal with this demand," he said.
Fellow peak body the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education is also pushing for greater regulation of booze giants as part of the state government's ongoing review of the Liquor Control Reform Act.
"The Victorian government has the opportunity to introduce measures that would reduce the hidden harms from alcohol use including alcohol use disorders, family violence and chronic diseases," FARE chief executive Caterina Giorgi said.
"This includes measures to ensure that alcohol companies pushing alcohol into people's homes through online sales and delivery are meeting community standards."
ALCOHOL SUPPORT SERVICES SURVEY RESULTS
* 27 per cent reported alcohol featured "a lot more" as a drug of concern for clients
* 43 per cent reported alcohol featured "a bit more" as a drug of concern for clients
* 22 per cent reported alcohol's prevalence as a drug of concern remained the same
* One agency reported a decrease in alcohol as a drug of concern for clients.
Australian Associated Press