There has been a dramatic rise in the sale of alcohol since the initial COVID-19 lockdown in March. According to the Associated Press, the sale of alcohol has increased 55 percent compared to March and April of this year. It’s unclear if the surge in sales is due to stress-related alcohol consumption or people stocking up on supplies due to the uncertainty associated with the pandemic.
The lockdown has changed people’s perspective on drinking in many ways. With drinking trending more than ever on social media outlets, it’s more acceptable to drink at home. This new standard, coupled with prolonged exposure to pandemic stress, may cause people to turn to alcohol to cope. That is why experts are beginning to worry about the effects this increased consumption could cause in the future.
With alcohol consumption increasing, it has become essential to find new coping methods. Whether that means meeting with friends or scheduling that overdue appointment with a therapist, now more than ever seeking help is the best thing people can do.
Concerns Around Increased Alcohol Consumption
According to an article in the Philly Voice, David H. Jernigan, professor of Health Law, Policy & Management at Boston University, stated that increased drinking affects people’s immune systems. As a result, people who have increased their alcohol consumption are more susceptible to catching COVID-19. However, it’s become apparent that lowered immunity and a higher risk of COVID-19 isn’t the only concern experts have about the rise in alcohol use.
Prolonged exposure to stress due to the pandemic may cause people to turn to alcohol to cope. Along with immune deficiencies, increased alcohol use can result in a poor mental state. That is why experts are beginning to worry about the effects this increased consumption could cause over time.
“Social isolation, limited interaction and financial distress are causing excessive stress, which has direct correlations with alcohol consumption,” stated Md Zahir Ahmed, a co-author of a study published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry.
Attempts to self-medicate and keep anxiety in check with alcohol can lead to excessive consumption and unwanted side effects, said Wendy McClary, a licensed marriage and family therapist, practicing in Vermont and Massachusetts , in an interview with NBC News.
Increased consumption can lead to negative feelings, which can prove to be a challenge for people under lockdown. Those negative emotions have contributed to more domestic disputes and made homes less safe than before the pandemic. With many of the activities people once used to suppress those negative feelings still on hiatus, a clear need for healthy alternatives is needed.
Check your Drinking
Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, at the University of Utah School of Medicine, advised counting the number of drinks you have per day and per week and then ask yourself why you are drinking. If you find you’re drinking due to feelings of depression, boredom, or anxiety, it’s best to seek help.
Samantha Cassetty, a New York City-based registered dietitian, told NBC News that there are a few ways people can keep their alcohol consumption in check. Choosing drinks that have lower alcohol content is a safer alternative. However, if you find it difficult not to drink, try removing yourself from situations where drinking is prevalent. It is encouraged to focus on yourself by picking up new hobbies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it many troublesome outcomes, including a dramatic rise in alcohol consumption. This has concerned many experts because it’s unclear if the surge in sales of alcohol is due to an increase in stress. Excessive use of alcohol can lead to both physical and mental harm. But by staying connected with others, utilizing online resources, and checking your habits, you can keep your alcohol consumption in check.
For those struggling with controlling their alcohol use during the pandemic, there are ways to get help. Although many in-person support groups have been put on hold due to the pandemic, support is still available through virtual meetings and telemedicine. Reaching out to family, friends or a therapist also can be a needed lifeline in these times.