Alcohol Abuse During COVID-19

In this COVID-19 era, everyone is so focused on the pandemic that little attention is being paid to a looming threat; the danger of alcohol abuse. In the past couple of months, social media has witnessed a rise in quarantine drinking challenges, hospitals have had an increase in alcohol-related admissions, and the number of cases of alcohol abuse received by recovery-support NGOs grows everyday. Home delivery of alcohol is on the rise, alcohol sales have reportedly increased by more than 200% between January and March.

Why the Sudden Increase in Alcohol Intake?

The increase in alcohol abuse during this coronavirus pandemic can be attributed to two major factors:

  1. Stress-drinking: Historically alcohol has served as a go-to palliative for dealing with grief and uncertainty. It’s no wonder that when faced with traumatic events such as a pandemic, people deal with their stress and vulnerabilities by finding solace in a bottle. Be it loneliness, sorrow at the loss of a loved one, fear of the future, the threat of unemployment, or the stress that comes with managing a couple of rambunctious kids day in and day out, alcohol provides temporary relief and escape from our anxious and depressing thoughts. But remember that while the relief is momentary, the effects of alcohol abuse are longer lasting.
  2. Misconceptions and Myths: A common misconception in many countries suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak is that alcohol consumption protects you from being infected by the virus and strengthens your immune system when it is, in fact, the opposite. This ignorance has caused a number of people to abuse alcoholic products believing that the alcohol being consumed will disinfect their mouths and throats. Alcohol only works as a disinfectant against the virus when used on the skin. When ingested, it’s a totally different ball game.

Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Health experts have warned that a large number of people will become dependent on alcohol for the first time in their lives during this pandemic. How do you know if you’ve moved from a couple of drinks in a week to problematic drinking?

  1. Inability to stop or control your alcohol intake
  2. Heavy drinking that, more often than not, results in a hangover
  3. Drinking at odd hours of the day
  4. Drinking and driving
  5. Having to drink more quantities to get the usual effect
  6. Mixing alcohol with medications.

If you find yourself drinking on a regular basis to cope with life’s realities during this coronavirus epidemic, then it is time to get help.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

The World Health Organization (WHO) has constantly reiterated the ill effects of alcohol abuse on one’s mental and physical health, especially during this pandemic.

  1. Alcohol abuse weakens the immune system and makes you susceptible to a host of infectious diseases. It is important to remember that the COVID-19 virus is especially fatal to those with weakened immune systems.
  2. Regular intake of alcohol interferes with your ability to make sound decisions.
  3. Problematic drinking enhances negative behavior and increases the risk of partner, domestic, and family violence. This is especially dangerous when partners and families are required to stay in their homes.
  4. Alcohol abuse increases the occurrence of mental health disorders such as depression, panic, and anxiety disorders.
  5. Problematic drinking interrupts restful sleep making it very difficult to achieve
  6. Problematic drinking increases the risk of suicide.
  7. Regular alcohol consumption inevitably damages the liver and other vital organs in the body.

Tips for Management of Alcohol Abuse

If you were recovering or dealing with alcohol abuse before the onset of the pandemic, it can be quite difficult to stay on the path of recovery with the mandatory social distancing and self-isolation. There is a higher chance of relapsing during this period. However, hope exists. Whether you’ve been alcohol-dependent for a long time or you recently started using alcohol to cope during the pandemic, the following strategies can help you overcome this addiction:

  1. Search for and participate in virtual AA support meetings
  2. Online counseling is the way to go. Sign up for online video sessions with a therapist to address alcohol abuse.
  3. Create your own support system; a trustworthy friend or relative that you can confidently reach out to for encouragement.
  4. When you feel stressed out and need to unwind, take a hot shower, go for a walk if possible, do yoga, or meditate. Simply do all you can to resist the urge to have a drink.
  5. Steadily cut down on your alcohol intake. It is hard, but you can do it. Staying sober is key during these dangerous times.
  6. Avoid temptation in the form of websites and social media channels that encourage the consumption of alcohol or offer free deals for home delivery.
  7. Ignore all false claims of alcohol being able to boost your immunity against coronavirus.

Finally, bear in mind that you’re a role model for others, including younger generations. Your ability to remain sober and show them that they can surmount any obstacle without resorting to alcohol will go a long way in impacting their future for the better.

Contact New Connections Counseling Center for help.

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