Excessive Drinking During the Pandemic

Patient Support

As this global pandemic continues into the holiday season, many months past what some originally thought, many in the addiction treatment space are concerned that Americans are turning to drinking during the pandemic as a coping mechanism – in a way they have never before.

Excessive Drinking During the Pandemic

It is well-known that some people choose to cope with stressful situations and traumatic events by drinking alcohol. Especially if that person has a substance use disorder (SUD) – making them more inclined to use alcohol as a way to cope with stress.

This global pandemic has brought a myriad of stressors – the global economic impact, the loss of social interaction, the experience of grief, loss of support, lack of daily structure, and isolation. And this stress has been prolonged over time, exposing people to heightened levels of stress for nearly a year now. Many professionals categorize this level of prolonged stress as traumatic.

Recent research during the pandemic has shown that alcohol consumption in the US is on the rise at alarming rates. The Nielsen Company reported there was a 54% increase in sales of alcohol in March 2020, compared to the prior year, while online sales increased 262% from 2019. The RAND Corporation American Life Panel survey reported that women increased their heavy drinking episodes by 41% in 2020 and found that the overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by 14% among adults over age 30, compared to the same time last year – leading to the understanding that drinking during the pandemic is a hidden pandemic within itself.

Coping with Pandemic Stress

Turning to alcohol to cope can be dangerous – and can become life-altering for those who drink excessively. There are many adverse health outcomes that result from excessive drinking, in addition to increased risk-taking behavior. So finding a healthy coping alternative is important as we continue in this time of elongated stress. A few healthy coping ideas:

  1. Connect with others safely. Modern technology has provided us with alternative ways to connect with other people via phone, DM, text or video calls.
  2. Exercise daily. Finding an exercise routine that you enjoy is proven to reduce stress. Sticking with it during a time that you know your stress is heightened is important.
  3. Carve out time for self-care. What do you enjoy doing? Is it reading a book? Doing a face mask? Watching a movie? Whatever it may be, ensure that you are allowing yourself that time.
  4. Meditate. Meditation is a powerful tool to relieve stress. And there are many quick, easy ways to integrate mindfulness into your day-to-day life.
  5. Ask for help. Many people, primarily women, carry the stress of others. But it’s important to know when, and how, to ask for help. Leaning on others when you need it is necessary, this year more than ever. Do not be afraid to reach out to you HR department, they can assist with options for additional support if struggling with alcohol use. 
  6. Create daily structure, take 10 minutes the day before and write out a plan for the following day, giving structure to the day will make it more manageable, and less overwhelming. Include the recommendations from above, meaning do not only place work-related activities on the schedule, but include self-care, exercise, family time, and leisure activity.

If you are afraid of relapse, find 6 Healthy Coping Skills from our experts at Wellbridge here.

Advanced Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one has relied too heavily on alcohol consumption as a way to deal with pandemic stress, contact Wellbridge today to discuss the issue and determine if advanced treatment is needed to get back to life.