The COVID-19 Pandemic Gives Rise to Unhealthy Alcohol Use
For many people, drinking alcohol is a social activity. With social distancing, however, the socializing goes away, but the alcohol remains. Some health experts are worried about this trend creating new harmful drinking patterns and even causing alcohol addictions – and their worries do not appear to be in vain. In China, for example, lockdown sparked a 6.7% increase in harmful drinking and alcohol dependence.
The stress of the COVID-19 crisis is also not helping. As one researcher tells The New York Times:
“Social isolation, limited interaction, financial distress are causing excessive stress, which has direct correlations with alcohol consumption.”
Alcohol Sales Increase
Alcohol sales spiked in March of 2020 and Nielsen data confirms they remain much higher than they were this time last year. While “stockpiling” behaviors have slowed, Americans are still buying more alcohol than normal. A poll of 2,200 respondents found that 16% of people are drinking more during the pandemic, and bartenders and social groups are trying to find new ways to participate in bar culture.
Many people are organizing virtual happy hours and joking about “quarantinis” or quarantine cocktails, but some people have found themselves struggling with alcohol use for the first time.
A Dangerous Game
One 44-year-old novelist told her story to The New York Times. She was a social drinker before the pandemic but quickly found herself having 3 or 4 drinks a night. As she describes it:
“It was very much not my style of drinking. I’ve always associated drink with going out and being social. I was never really one for opening a bottle of wine in front of the television.”
After a bout of drinking alone and waking up one Thursday morning with a hangover, the novelist decided to take a short break from alcohol and ended up deciding on sobriety. She has not had a drink for two months and her loved ones call her an unexpected “poster girl for sobriety.”
Another woman began crafting cocktails when she was furloughed from her job as an office manager and had many of her auditions for opera singing canceled. She explained:
“There is literally nothing else to control. I can at least make a cocktail.”
Warnings and Advice
While alcohol may feel like something you can control, alcohol use can quickly spiral out of control. Experts warn the combination of reduced access to social support, increased access to alcohol, and the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis means:
“There remains a threat to develop new substance-use disorders, even among casual drinkers.”
To quell bad habits, addiction specialists recommend setting benchmarks for yourself and deciding what is a healthy amount of alcohol – for most people that is 14 units a week or less.
Although you don’t need to beat yourself up for a night or 2 of heavy drinking, you may want to take a closer look at your behavior if you find yourself unable to cut back or that alcohol is interfering with your responsibilities.
If you need help beating an alcohol addiction, you can always turn to Decision Point center for assistance. With everyday life on pause, it might be the best time for inpatient treatment or another recovery program.
No matter what you need, you’re taking an important step today. Call us at (844) 292-5010 or contact us online for more information about how we can help you recover.