As of current, the United States accounts for almost 994 thousand cases of Covid-19. While recoveries measure up to almost 110,000, another 55,000 Americans have succumbed to the disease.
With no vaccine and approved medications just yet, the US government has instituted a lockdown in all states. Except for essential workers, almost all individuals are advised to stay at home.
Although social distancing proves to be the best way to flatten the infection curve, it has ‘isolated’ many people for several weeks now. Unfortunately, this quarantine has become a reason for alcohol use (and abuse) for some. This may bring about unprecedented public health effects, as Clay and Parker have noted in their Lancet article.
Why Alcohol Use/Abuse is Prevalent in this Pandemic
With its high rate of infection, the Novel Coronavirus has affected the world in more ways than one. The social distancing measures, while helpful, have prompted a lot of people to start drinking – if not resume drinking once again. Such figures were noted in a University of Utah article, where it was reported that alcohol sales have jumped to a whopping 55% compared to last year. As to why alcoholism is on the rise despite the pandemic, experts have these to blame:
Life has always been stressful. However, the Covid-19 pandemic is putting a whole another level of stress on our shoulders. There’s the fear of how the virus can affect you physically, socially, and mentally.
While some have managed to deal with the stresses quite positively, some find themselves drinking more and more. And while liquor provides a temporary reprieve, it can lead to alcoholism for some – and relapse for already abstinent drinkers.
2. A Form of Escape
More than just the prospect of poor health and death, the pandemic has affected a lot of livelihoods as well. With the US unemployment rate at a high 16%, some people have turned to alcohol to wash their problems away.
Unfortunately, a simple sip during this quarantine can prove hazardous in the long term. According to research, those who drink as a form of coping are more likely to develop alcoholism in the near future.
3. Means of Self-Medication
It is no secret that a lot of people drink alcohol to medicate themselves. In times of social and economic distress (as with this pandemic), mental health problems are on the rise. More and more people are feeling anxious, if not depressed. While these conditions are best treated with medications and professional help, some individuals feel that drinking can help them just as much.
With the Novel Coronavirus showing little signs of slowing down, ‘alcohol therapy’ may just prevail for a longer time. Unfortunately, this can lead to alcohol abuse – which can further worsen one’s mental health in the long run. After all, research shows that alcohol can several mental conditions, such as depression and social anxiety.
4. No Check and Balance
Some ex-alcoholics can maintain their abstinence due to a strong support group and regular therapy. Unfortunately, social distancing has placed these at-risk people away from their ‘guards’ if you will. This loss of check and balance can prod former alcoholics to drink again. After all, there are no people to tell them not to anyway.
Why You Shouldn’t Drink Right Now
While it might be tempting to drink alcohol amid this pandemic, it’s best if you don’t do so. It can affect your health in several ways. Alcohol’s effects on the body put you at risk of developing Covid-19 – and other diseases in the future.
1. Alcohol weakens your immunity.
Occasional drinkers often find themselves with colds, cough, and other infections. That’s because alcohol weakens their immune systems, making them more prone to illnesses and whatnot.
According to Dr. Alan Taege of the Cleveland Clinic, people with weak immune systems are more likely to contract and succumb to the Covid-19 disease. With that being said, maintaining a strong, alcohol-free immune system can mean all the difference between life and death.
2. Alcohol clouds your judgment.
Being able to decide well and fast is important in this pandemic. You would want a clear head so you can act quickly. Having a clear mind can help you remain vigilant with the issues surrounding you. Unfortunately, being intoxicated in this high-risk situation can affect your decision-making faculties. Not only will this put your safety at risk, it can put your family’s health in jeopardy as well.
How to Avoid Alcoholism
Yes, the Novel Coronavirus issue at hand is stressful. However, it cannot be resolved with alcohol. As mentioned, it can put you at greater risk of acquiring the Covid-19 disease. With that being said, you should follow these tips from the World Health Organization:
1. Don’t Buy Alcohol
Whenever you make a grocery run, try not to place alcohol in your basket. Not only is it bad for your health, it is detrimental to your wallet as well. Think of all the money you can save if you don’t drink alcohol excessively. Saving dollars is a very important issue today, given the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. Avoid Triggers
Do you end up drinking whenever you smoke? If this a proven trigger for you, then try to avoid it as much as you can. Not only will this help reduce the chances of alcohol abuse, but it can save you from the perils of cigarette smoking as well.
The same can be said with TV or social media. Shows or posts that depict alcohol may make you want to drink. With that being said, it’s best to lay off from these triggers for now. This can help prevent relapse in ex-alcoholics – and possible abuse in ‘new’ drinkers.
The internet provides great ways for communication not only with loved ones but with therapists as well. If you find yourself itching for another bottle, know that your counselor, family, and friends are just a Facetime or Skype call away.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a situation that can precipitate (if not worsen) alcoholism. Although that is the case, it is important that you keep sober for now – and for the rest of your life, ideally. Remember, the solution to your pandemic problem cannot be found at the bottom of the bottle.