Since March, when the COVID-19 lockdown was in effect, experts saw a rise in the sales of alcohol across the country. How much of a rise? According to the Associated Press, sales of alcohol increased 55 percent compared to March and April of last year. Whether the cause is stress-related alcohol consumption or stockpiling alcohol during the lockdown, experts are speculating where it may lead.
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, many events began to change people’s views on drinking. Drinking habits that began to trend on social media became more familiar, causing people to drink more at home. Also, the amount of stress that people continue to face can lure some to drink more alcohol to depress those feelings. Experts worry what path this extra alcohol consumption may be leading people down. Effects such as addiction, a weaker immune system and poor mental health are known to come with excessive drinking.
While most entertainment and recreational services remain in limbo, finding better alternatives to de-stress can be difficult. However, if more people are beginning to lose control of their alcohol consumption, it is vital to help in any way possible. Meeting with friends, talking to a therapist, and getting help is the best thing people can do amid this pandemic.
Worries About Excessive Drinking
In an article in the Philly Voice, David H. Jernigan, professor of Health Law, Policy & Management at Boston University, stated that the increase in drinking affects people’s immune systems. In most situations, alcohol suppresses the body’s immune system, making a person more susceptible to COVID-19. However, being vulnerable to COVID-19 is only one of the many things that experts are worried about with the rise of alcohol use.
Even after states across America reopen, social networks and other healthy ways to de-stress have been reduced. Movie theaters, sports and other recreational activities that once helped distract people from challenging times are currently forbidden. Meanwhile, alcohol is still as easy as ever to obtain — even in the pandemic.
“Social isolation, limited interaction and financial distress are causing excessive stress, which has direct correlations with alcohol consumption,” according to Md Zahir Ahmed, a co-author of a study published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry. Ahmed found that harmful drinking increased 6.7 percent during the lockdown in China.
By self-medicating with alcohol to keep anxieties in check, drinking too much and too often can lead to unwanted side effects. Wendy McClary, a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Vermont and Massachusetts, told NBC News about the common effects of excessive amounts of alcohol. Too much alcohol can intensify feelings of depression, anger, hopelessness and powerlessness, which can be a real concern when people are under lockdown at home with family members. Cases of domestic violence are also linked to excessive alcohol consumption, making some homes less safe than before COVID-19.
All these dangerous outcomes of coping with stress by consuming excessive alcohol are enough reasons for change. But while many ways of de-stressing and distracting people from world events are still on hiatus, there remain healthy alternatives.
Keeping Alcohol Consumption in Check
Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, of the department of obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, advises counting how many drinks you have per day, how many per week, and then asking yourself why you are drinking. If you are drinking because you are depressed, bored or anxious, then make sure to find help in someone else. Such reasons for drinking can lead to dangerous outcomes such as addiction and poor mental/physical health.
Not only watching how much you drink, but also what you drink can help you steer clear of unwanted outcomes. Samantha Cassetty, a New York City-based registered dietitian, told NBC News about ways people can keep drinking in check. Drinks with low- or no-alcohol are always safer alternatives. If you are having trouble with limiting alcohol, try removing yourself from situations where alcohol is encouraged. Instead, Cassetty said, pick up a hobby like meditation and focus on self-care.
For those who are struggling with controlling alcohol use during this pandemic and its upheaval, there are ways to get help, as well. Many in-person support groups have been lost among the pandemic but realizing that help is still there is the first step. Contacting friends, family or meeting with therapists and support groups online can be a lifeline.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many worrying outcomes, including the dramatic rise in alcohol consumption. Ever since the lockdown began in March, sales of alcohol online and in stores have increased, causing health experts to worry. Known to help people cope with everyday stress, alcohol is something that can be dangerous when not managed properly. Both mentally and physically, excessive alcohol consumption can do more harm than good. However, you can get help. By being social with others, reaching out online and reviewing your habits, you can control how much alcohol you consume. If you’re not sure where to turn for help, you can call Recovery Treatment Place at 504-384-7870.