19 Nov How the Coronavirus Has Increased Alcoholism Across the Country
The response to Covid-19 has created a unique set of circumstances that sets the stage for increased levels of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. If you were struggling with alcoholism before the coronavirus, then the strict lockdowns and quarantines may have led you into relapse. For others, excessive drinking became the norm as they looked for ways to decrease stress and pass time while spending long days at home. After six months, the statistics have increasingly shown that alcoholism is on the rise.
What Is Excessive Drinking?
Alcohol is an addictive substance that can be harder to keep tabs on versus other addictive substances. The main reasons are that it’s very socially acceptable to drink and also that it has a legitimate place as a meal accompaniment. Because of this, it can be hard to tell if a person is drinking too much alcohol or not. As previously mentioned, data indicates that higher levels of alcohol consumption have followed the Covid-19 lockdowns and quarantines. Alcohol sales in late March soared to 54% higher in 2020 versus the same time in 2019. By late April, online sales were up a massive 500%. In response to surveys, about 16% of all adults indicated that they were drinking more alcohol than before Covid-19. The rates were highest among young adults.
How much alcohol consumption is too much? It depends on a few things, such as your gender and weight. Moderate alcohol consumption is usually considered to be two drinks per day for men and one drink for women. Binge drinking is when you drink four (for women) to five (for men) or more drinks in two hours. Drinks are usually defined as one shot of hard liquor, one 12 ounce container of beer, or a five-ounce glass of wine. Excessive drinking has a number of health effects and risks, including the following:
• Liver disease
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Interactions with prescription drugs
• Poor sleep
• Decreased immune system
Alcohol and Covid-19
Alcohol is one of the oldest drugs of choice for people who are stressed. Covid-19 has increased anxiety levels across the board. Whether it’s fear of the coronavirus itself, fear of losing your job or depression due to a lack of social interaction, there’s no doubt that Covid-19 has increased stress for many people in several different areas. People with anxiety also experience racing thoughts about all their various uncertainties and worries. Alcohol often stops thoughts from racing, but this can lead to dependence. Anxiety isn’t the only problem either. People working from home and self-isolating at home eventually become bored and alcohol can fill the void. A peek onto social media during Covid-19 has revealed a lot of jokes about day-drinking and “quarantinis” (quarantine martinis).
What it also shows is that alcohol has become a culturally and socially acceptable way to deal with issues like boredom, anxiety and stress. Alcoholism, as a form of addiction, can start when you become dependent on alcohol to feel normal. If you reach for a drink when you have nothing to do or your thoughts are racing from the latest Covid-19 update, then you’re using alcohol to cope. Dependence and compulsive use lead to addiction.
Alternative Strategies For Coping With The Coronavirus
Covid-19 has led to a rise in alcoholism and drug addiction. It’s also led people who have previously gone in for treatment to relapse. If you’re concerned about your risk for developing alcoholism or returning to alcoholism, it’s a good idea to consider some other methods of coping with anxiety, depression and boredom due to Covid-19. Experts cite the following strategies as good alternatives to drinking alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic:
• Meditation or prayer
• Deep breathing
• Frequent conversations with friends and family by phone or video chat
• Reading books
• Walking outdoors
• Limiting news consumption
One of the most difficult parts of Covid-19 is the developing nature of the story. It can lead people to engage in excessive news watching and reading, which then leads to increased levels of anxiety and worry. In order to avoid taking in too much news, it’s a good idea to limit yourself to one update per day, whether via the newspaper, Internet or TV.
How Covid-19 Affects People Who Are Struggling With Alcoholism
If you already have an alcohol use disorder or have struggled with one in the past, the coronavirus pandemic presents some serious obstacles. Many people with addiction to alcohol or drugs struggle with various triggers that compel them to keep using. Some of those triggers are very present during the coronavirus pandemic, including the following:
If you’re currently struggling with alcohol addiction, you might also face restricted access to alcohol and a decreased immune system, which might give you withdrawal symptoms and make you more vulnerable to the coronavirus or other infection.
If you’re recovering from alcohol addiction, you might find yourself isolated from your previous coping methods such as social support. Social withdrawal tends to increase feelings of depression and loneliness. Those two feelings alone can lead to substance abuse. For those in recovery, an increase of such feelings might lead them to relapse. It can be difficult to feel motivated to continue your sobriety when negative feelings begin to overwhelm you.
Anxiety and Alcohol Use Disorder
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has caused rising anxiety across the population. It’s a normal human reaction to worry. One of the deepest causes of anxiety is fear of the unknown. However, if you are also struggling with an alcohol use disorder, you may have even higher levels of anxiety. Anxiety tends to be a side effect of addiction. Add to that the conflicting information about Covid-19 and fear of losing your livelihood, and it’s easy to understand why alcohol consumption has risen so quickly.
However, drinking more during the pandemic will only increase your anxiety and potentially also increase your problematic drinking. If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’re nearly 20% more likely to self-medicate with alcohol. About 13% of those with anxiety who self-medicate with alcohol are likely to develop an addiction later on.
Getting help for undiagnosed anxiety is just as important as getting help for addiction. Anxiety disorders can lead to substance abuse and addiction if not properly treated.
Treatment For Alcoholism At New Method Wellness
If you have concerns about the coronavirus and alcohol consumption, or if you’re having difficulties recovering from alcoholism during the pandemic, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. New Method Wellness offers a range of treatment options for alcoholism and drug addiction. Don’t fall victim to alcohol abuse. If you or a loved one needs help coping with Covid-19 and/or substance abuse, get in touch with New Method Wellness today.
For more information about our addiction treatment methods, call 866.951.1824