When Pandemic Drinking Turns to Addiction – Know the Signs
COVID-19 has changed seemingly every aspect of most people’s daily lives. You have probably seen this in the way you work, in the way your kids are learning, in the way you shop for essentials, and in the way you socialize with friends and family. You may also see it in the amount of alcohol you are consuming now. It’s important for you to know the signs of when pandemic drinking turns to addiction, for your health and safety.
Stay at Home Orders
In March 2020, states began issuing orders for people to stay at home. Businesses sent employees home to work or had to furlough their staff. Opportunities to go out for a meal and a drink with friends or family were essentially non-existent. Restaurants shifted to takeout only and bars had to close.
By the beginning of May, the data showed that people were drinking more in their isolation. Total alcohol sales were up by more than 32% during the week ending May 2. The numbers remain high as the pandemic continues through the summer.
When those orders were put in place that prohibited people from eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars, many state laws were adjusted to accommodate the need for takeout, including those for alcohol sales. Trends toward liquor delivery, virtual happy hours, and online wine tasting signaled a significant shift in the country’s drinking habits. Restaurants were suddenly able to offer legal curbside cocktails, which helped them stay in business, but which also contributed to the increase in pandemic drinking.
Increased Susceptibility to COVID-19
Health officials are concerned about the increase in drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drinking excessively causes its own health problems, but it also may increase COVID-19 susceptibility and severity.
David Fiellin, MD, director of the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine, says “In general, because we know that alcohol has a negative impact on the lungs and the immune system, we believe it will be associated with more severe cases of COVID-19 disease. Alcohol can damage the intestinal lining, which then allows bacteria to enter the body more easily. That can ‘rev up’ the inflammatory response, which is also a big part of COVID-19 disease.”
The CDC emphasizes that drinking alcohol does not protect you from COVID-19, rather it weakens your body’s ability to fight infections, increasing the risk of complications and making it harder to get better if you are sick. In addition, alcohol use can increase the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia, which are sometimes associated with COVID-19.
Know the Signs
When your pandemic drinking turns to addiction, you should know the signs so you can get help for your own health and safety. Moderate drinking is up to one drink (about 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) per day for women and two drinks for men. High-risk drinking for women is the consumption of four or more drinks on any day or eight or more drinks per week. For men, it is five or more drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks per week. Binge drinking is defined as women consuming four or more drinks in about two hours, or five or more drinks for men.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests asking some relevant questions – and answering them honestly – if you suspect that you may be drinking too much and that your drinking may have turned to addiction, including:
- Have you experienced times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
- Have you wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, more than once but couldn’t?
- Do you spend a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
- Do you find that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interferes with taking care of your home or family?
- Do you continue to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious or adds to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
- Are you continuing to drink even though it is causing trouble with your family or friends?
Contact R&A Therapeutic Partners When Your Pandemic Drinking Turns to Addiction
When you need help during the COVID-19 outbreak, you can find it at R&A Therapeutic Partners. These are challenging times. We offer the therapy you need to get control of your life once again. We offer telehealth and online therapy to keep you safe and healthy. If you suspect your pandemic drinking has turned into an addiction, please contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno to find out the services R&A Therapeutic Partners offers. Call us at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.