The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic include the feeling of isolation or loneliness and anxiety over the future. The added stress of homeschooling and worry about health and finances compound those impacts. This year has been a tough one for many Americans. What’s the connection between COVID-19 and alcohol use disorder?
Alcohol sales have jumped by double digits compared to last year. Many counselors and doctors worry about what that spike in sales means for people struggling with alcohol use disorder and the need for alcohol rehab.
A History of Alcohol Use and Abuse
History shows us stress and anxiety can increase alcohol consumption and exacerbate alcohol use disorders. From traumatic events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, we saw increases in people abusing alcohol and needing alcohol rehab. And there is grave concern history is repeating itself right now.
“We also know that feeling socially isolated, a possible effect of physical distancing, can worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression, which may encourage more alcohol intake,” doctors with the National Institutes of Health explain.
So as many Americans stay hunkered down, or at a minimum distance themselves from others, we’re seeing more and more turn to alcohol to address their stress, loneliness and even to combat simple boredom.
Access is Easier in the Pandemic, So is Hiding Alcohol Use Disorder During COVID-19
Alcohol and premixed cocktails saw the largest jump in sales this year with a spike of 75% from last year. Beer sales along with wine purchases are also up from retail vendors.
And despite restaurants being closed off-and-on this year, access to favorite watering hole beverages is still possible in Arizona. Restaurants and bars are allowed to sell alcohol through take-out and curbside services.
This access coupled with isolation is a combination that can produce disastrous results for people who are still going through alcohol rehab or who are struggling with alcohol use disorder.
COVID-19 and Alcohol Abuse Makes Your Problems Worse
Drinking alcohol will shrink your response to stress or anxiety initially. That is why it seems like a good solution to combat the stress of the pandemic. When the effects wear off, that stress and anxiety will return, and those feelings return even worse.
Here’s why. With time, alcohol abuse changes how the brain works and actually intensifies the brain’s reaction to stress. That means small problems are made worse by alcohol abuse and drinking will cause even more stress long-term. Those problems include dealing with challenges at work or home; maintaining relationships and interests; and sleeping.
How to Spot a Problem With Alcohol Use
If you’re drinking more and wonder if you’re abusing alcohol there are some questions you can ask yourself about your drinking in the last year. 
- Have you drank longer or consumed more than you intended?
- Have you tried to cut back on your drinking but couldn’t?
- Are you spending a lot of time or energy recovering from hangovers?
- Do you have a strong urge to drink?
- Has drinking impacted your ability to work or take care of your family and other responsibilities?
- Have you given up other hobbies or activities to spend that time drinking?
- Do you continue to drink even though it makes you feel worse?
- Do you suffer from any withdrawal symptoms like shaking? Irritability? Restlessness? Nausea?
Seeking Alcohol Rehab can Help You Battle the Anxiety and Addiction You’re Facing
Through alcohol rehab, you can learn better ways to manage your stress and even thrive in the pandemic. At Silver Sands Recovery in Arizona, we offer individualized custom care plans. Each plan is tailored to each person’s specific needs. Our mission hasn’t changed and perhaps it’s more important than ever. We want to rebuild you so when you graduate from our programs, you are confident in yourself and your future. Contact us today to get started.
About the author:
Lisa Waknin is the Founder and Director of Silver Sands Recovery, located in Prescott, Arizona. Lisa started Silver Sands Recovery after immersing herself in the addiction treatment world for several years to figure out what could be done differently to help her daughter and others like her to overcome addiction and stay sober. She believes in a hands-on treatment approach, which includes taking someone out of their environment, providing a 90-day program in a structured environment. During treatment, clients not only recover physically but also learn to live their life again. Lisa is a sought-after expert speaker for recovery support groups, charities, schools, communities, and companies wanting to educate themselves on the explosion of opiate and heroin abuse in our country and the best way to understand, treat, and beat it.