COVID-19 and Alcohol Consumption
COVID-19 has affected all of us in some way. This unprecedented, global turn of events has led to many drastic changes in society. Among these changes include, for many people, an increased likelihood for consuming substances like alcohol.
This article explores the relationship between COVID-19 and alcohol consumption. We discuss how some of the COVID-19 quarantine measures may cause someone to increase their alcohol consumption, as well as the relationship between alcohol and the COVID-19 disease itself.
By the time you’ve finished this article you’ll have a better understanding of how COVID relates to alcohol. We will also provide some tips and information to ensure that you don’t run an increased risk of health problems or substance abuse.
COVID-19 Measures and Alcohol Consumption
There are many reasons that COVID-19 could lead to an increase in alcohol consumption. Here are some of the most common factors that could make someone likely to turn to alcohol.
COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented shutdown of small businesses. Many people have also had their work hours reduced, either in an attempt to reduce physical contact between staff members or because businesses need to conserve money.
In either case, this results in a loss of finances. Many people find that this sudden loss of finances produces stress. In the case of people who have lost businesses, this stress can be quite serious.
Even though financial problems indicate that someone probably shouldn’t spend money on alcohol, the stress caused by financial difficulty can cause someone to turn toward alcohol. This can create a downward spiral of increasing financial problems, compounding stress, and increased alcohol consumption.
One of the most pressing difficulties caused by COVID-19 are the large number of social difficulties that have emerged as a result of COVID-19 measures. These factors can all create social problems:
- Mandatory quarantine measures
- Social distancing measures
- Needing to wear a mask in public spaces
- Foreclosure or shut down of social venues and businesses
The combination of these measures has led to people experiencing various social problems. People are unable to connect with others as easily as they could before, and many are finding it difficult to reach out to their loved ones.
Being unable to socially connect can create a number of stressors.
- Not being able to reach out to a support group can make it challenging for people to manage their emotions. Given the difficult situation that we are all in, this can lead to great emotional stress.
- Many people feel isolated or lonely when they are not able to connect with others. Isolation and solitude can aggravate someone and make them more likely to consume alcohol.
- Social distancing measures can make people feel alienated and uncomfortable. These undesirable feelings can increase the likelihood of alcohol consumption.
COVID-19 has created a host of emotional problems, all of which can make someone more likely to consume alcohol.
- COVID-19 has created an unprecedented level of fear and discomfort among the general public. These unsettling feelings can push someone towards drinking.
- The financial problems created by the virus, lockdown measures, and business closures can create large amounts of stress. Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to alcohol use.
- Social isolation can make people more likely to drink in order to numb these unpleasant feelings.
- People may develop feelings of anxiety or unease as the COVID-19 situation progresses. Many people choose to drink in order to numb their anxiety.
Other Issues Related to COVID-19
These are some other issues which can increase the likelihood of drinking during the pandemic.
- Many people have found that their established daily routines are becoming blurred because of COVID-19. As non-essential work places close and many people find themselves working from home, it can be difficult to maintain or manage simple routines. The loss of routine is one of the biggest factors for relapse among recovering alcoholics. Lack of structure can also make non-alcoholics more likely to drink.
- Many people have begun to stockpile alcohol during the quarantine. Even those who are not considered alcoholics may find it reasonable to purchase more of their favorite drinks in case the liquor store runs out during the quarantine. The increased availability of alcohol in the home space can make one more likely to drink.
Tips on Managing Alcohol Consumption During COVID-19
Many people are finding themselves overwhelmed due to the unprecedented level of stress and emotional strife that has come along with COVID-19. Even people who have not previously struggled with addiction may find themselves turning to the bottle more often.
This section details some of the best ways to prevent yourself from drinking too much during COVID-19.
Managing Alcoholism During Quarantine
Most countries have experienced some measure of quarantine lockdown to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true for people who are suspected to have the virus itself. If you find yourself needing to socially isolate yourself, these tips can help to ensure that you don’t end up abusing alcohol.
- If you work from home, make sure that you follow similar rules that you would employ during regular office hours – in other words, don’t make excuses to drink just because you’re at home. Even after taking a break you should return to the office fully capable of working, which means that you should avoid having a drink.
- Try to avoid stockpiling alcohol. Some people may find that they are tempted to buy a large supply of alcohol in case they are unable to get it later. Remember that alcohol isn’t something that you need to be healthy, and on the off-chance that you are unable to purchase alcohol at some point, this will ultimately be beneficial for your health.
- Remember that we are living in a time of change and uncertainty. Not everyone is sure where their financial future lies. It is a smart idea to conserve your finances for necessary items – not including alcohol. Instead, you can choose to spend your money on healthy foods and goods that will keep you in good shape for the future.
- Some people choose to drink in order to reduce stress. While alcohol may seem to reduce stress in the short-term, long-term alcohol use actually aggravates stress. When people become addicted to alcohol, they may develop withdrawal symptoms of anxiety which can worsen stressful experiences.
- Many people drink when they are bored. Eliminating boredom is one of the best ways to minimize your alcohol use. There are plenty of fun activities that you can engage in at home. Try doing a new workout, engaging in some new hobbies like playing music, or playing board games with your family or housemates.
- If you are socially isolated, it’s important to remember that alcohol can increase the risk of depressive behavior and suicidal thoughts. If you are considering drinking due to depression, anxiety, or loneliness, you should look into healthier coping mechanisms. Consider reaching out over the phone to a friend or seeking online counseling if you are feeling unhappy or unsafe.
- Remember that alcohol, especially when drunk in stressful situations, can aggravate the risk of violence among partners. If you live with your partner, it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol consumption during uncertain or difficult times. Alcohol clouds judgment and makes it much more difficult to figure out viable solutions for moving forward.
Alcoholism & COVID-19
People who already struggle with alcoholism may face additional challenges during COVID-19. However, the situation also presents some opportunities for improvement. This section outlines some of the ways that our current situation can impact people who struggle with alcoholism.
One of the first things to remember is that people who struggle with alcoholism may be more at risk for contracting COVID-19. There are several reasons for this.
- Alcoholics tend to be more likely to act irrationally or make bad judgments. This could impair their ability to physically distance or make responsible choices regarding COVID-19.
- People who struggle with alcoholism are more likely to find themselves living on the streets or in jail. Both of these situations can make it harder to avoid contracting the virus.
- Alcoholism tends to lower a person’s immunity and overall health. This puts them at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
If you or a loved one struggle with alcoholism, then you may want to take extra precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Tips on Managing Alcoholism During COVID-19
These are a few of the best things that you can do to help manage an alcohol addiction.
- Consider joining an online recovery group. While many in-person recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, may be on hiatus due to social distancing measures, these same groups can be attended online. Attending an online recovery meeting also provides people in rural or isolated areas the opportunity to connect with others.
- Consider seeking online therapy. Many therapists and counselors have moved their practice online in recent years, and many more have done so because of COVID-19. If you are concerned about your alcohol use, don’t hesitate to seek treatment online.
- Make sure to find ways to connect with your support group. If you usually engage with members of your support group in person, find other ways to reach out to them. Make use of phone calls, video chat, or other communication methods to ensure that you’re able to get the support that you need. You may want to consider spending more time texting or calling friends than you normally would so that you don’t feel lonely or isolated.
- Make sure to build a regular routine. Having a regular routine filled with healthy and productive activities can keep you focused. Maintaining a positive focus is one of the best ways to avoid drinking.
- Get active. One of the best ways to fill your time and improve both your physical and mental health is to exercise regularly. Exercise helps the body produce neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that help you remain happy and balanced. Regular exercise also helps to fill your time and produces a sense of accomplishment.
- Be honest with yourself about your habits and symptoms. Many people fall into the vicious cycle of addiction simply because they are not honest with themselves. While it might be uncomfortable to be brutally honest about your drinking habits or symptoms, this is important. Catching yourself before your alcohol use becomes an addiction is very important.
- Voice your concerns with others. If you’re worried about your alcohol consumption, or the alcohol consumption of your loved ones, it’s important to be vocal. Avoid being judgmental but make sure to rely on facts to help ensure that everyone is aware of the risks and dangers of alcohol consumption.
- Get in touch with a professional. Whether it’s your family doctor, an addiction therapist, or another mental health professional, it’s a good idea to have some communication with a professional who can help you stay on the right track. If you’re even slightly worried about your alcohol consumption, having a medical professional you can connect with can help keep you safe.
COVID-19 as an Opportunity to Sober Up
COVID-19 also presents some people with the unique opportunity to sober up.
On the one hand, people may feel that the social distance and isolation compels them to drink. However, considered from another perspective, this provides a unique opportunity to help reduce alcohol consumption.
In many cities, bars and public drinking venues are closed. Rather than continuing to drink at home, you could use this as an opportunity to sober up. Without social pressure and demands, you can learn to spend time with yourself and the people that you live with without consuming alcohol.
This could provide you with a unique opportunity to hone your social skills without relying on alcohol as a crutch. If you spend your quarantine time learning how to socialize on your own, you may find that you become less reliant on alcohol.
Spending more time at home also significantly reduces the likelihood of being exposed to peer pressure or stressful social situations.
Myths & Facts About COVID-19 and Alcohol
There have been a number of misconstrued facts regarding alcohol consumption and COVID-19. This section clears up some of the myths surrounding the use of alcohol and COVID.
Myth #1: Alcohol Destroys the COVID-19 Virus
There is absolutely no evidence that COVID-19 destroys the coronavirus, either in vitro or in vivo. This is unsafe advice that could lead to people making unwise or risky health decisions.
Furthermore, alcohol consumption is likely to aggravate symptoms of the illness. Alcohol consumption, in general, is unhealthy for you. Drinking while you’re sick means that you will be more likely to experience unpleasant side effects.
Myth #2: Strong Alcohol Eliminates the Virus in the Air
This myth suggests that people who are drinking high-concentration alcohol can actually kill the coronavirus as it travels through the air. This myth is founded on the idea that alcohol works as a disinfectant. While alcohol may be a disinfectant, it is not strong enough to disinfect your mouth, throat, or nasal cavities to the degree that would prevent you from inhaling a dangerous virus.
Myth #3: Alcohol Increases Immunity & Virus Resistance
This is not true. In fact, the opposite is true – alcohol tends to reduce immunity, which can put you at a greater risk of contracting viruses of all types.
Warning Signs to Look Out For
Even people who do not have a history of alcohol abuse may become more vulnerable to alcoholism during the quarantine. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the warning signs of alcoholism. If you notice these signs in yourself or your loved ones, it’s a good idea to minimize your drinking. If these signs and symptoms are on-going, it may be worthwhile to reach out to an online addiction therapist.
- Drinking alcohol more often than usual, or drinking larger amounts of alcohol
- The development of alcohol tolerance (needing more drinks to experience the same effects)
- Friends, family members, or other people voicing concerns about your alcohol consumption
- Continuing to drink alcohol despite negative consequences
- Continuing to drink alcohol despite negative changes in behavior
There are a lot of reasons that COVID-19 could aggravate someone and push them to drink alcohol. People with a history of alcoholism must be especially careful during this uncertain time. It’s important to remain cautious and aware to minimize the risks and dangers associated with alcohol use.
This article outlines a number of the best tips, tricks, and pieces of advice that you can employ to stay sober and safe during this pandemic. Remember, if you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption or that of your loved ones, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.