Rates of Alcohol Abuse Rising During COVID-19

alcohol and covid

People are drinking to relieve boredom and stress during the pandemic.

It wasn’t shocking at all when news reports emerged last April that alcohol sales had tripled since the lockdowns started. People were afraid of this unknown, unseen invader. No one knew what was around the next corner, or if they would even have a job. To help relieve these fears, many people turned to drinking.

Alcohol has long been used as a means to relax, to escape one’s troubles. Sadly, for some people drinking can become an alcohol use disorder over time. It is hard to predict who may be more prone to alcoholism until it is often too late. Many factors are involved in disordered drinking, such as genes, brain chemistry, family history, and trauma. It is also thought that chronic stress, like going through with Covid, can also lead to a drinking problem.

Being aware of your increase in drinking is the first step in getting the help you need. Seeing how your drinking habit is starting to take a toll on your life can start the process of seeking treatment for the problem. There are many treatment options open during the pandemic, even online outpatient treatment and A.A. meetings. Support is there for you if you are ready to get healthy.

Alcohol Sales Rise During COVID-19

The rate of alcohol sales, outside of bars and restaurants, surged 24% during the lockdown, reports Nielsen’s. This was no big surprise. People were stuck at home without the chance to stop by a bar and have a drink after work. Drinking had shifted to at-home-only for many months.

The problem was that by drinking at home people had less reason to control how much they drank. It was cheaper and there may have been no one around to deter heavy drinking at home.

This set up a scene where, as the lockdown stress increased and jobs were lost, the amount consumed increased. Some might have even begun to binge drink during this time frame. People were lonely, bored, and afraid, so alcohol does its job to numb those feelings.

Signs of a Drinking Problem

For those who had trouble limiting their intake, the drinking may have gotten away from them. Over the months in lockdown, while many were out of work, a habit might have morphed into a real problem. An alcohol use disorder sneaks up without much notice.

Learning to notice the signs of an alcohol problem can help you get treatment sooner rather than later. These symptoms include:

  • Not being able to control the drinking.
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Not being able to quit drinking even when you want to.
  • Not fulfilling obligations at work or home.
  • Increased tolerance
  • Hand tremors when not drinking.
  • Hiding alcohol from loved ones
  • Lying about how much you drink.
  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Blacking out.
  • Continue drinking in spite of problems caused by it.
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors while drinking; DUI arrest.
  • Having symptoms when alcohol effects wear off.

Based on the number of symptoms you have will determine how severe the alcohol use disorder is. Two to three symptoms are mild AUD, 3-4 symptoms are moderate AUD, and 5 or more are severe AUD.

Actions to Take

If you have a mild AUD you may be able to take control over your drinking. If you can stop drinking and not experience bad alcohol withdrawal symptoms you can try to manage the issue yourself. If this is the case, dial into a local A.A. group for daily support right away. Attend meetings every day for a month to start. Rid the house of all forms of alcohol and meds. Ask a close friend to be your support person. Find more support sources online, as there are online AA meetings, 12-step meetings via Zoom at all hours of the day. Also, there are smartphone apps that also help you check in and stay the course.

However, if you have three or more of the above signs of alcohol use disorder, you will need expert detox support and treatment. The more entrenched the drinking problem is, the more you must rely on the help of addiction experts to guide you. Alcoholism is a very hard addiction to manage on your own, and detox should never be done without support.

Can You Get Treatment During COVID-19?

If you see you have a more severe AUD and need help to quit drinking there are many options to you during COVID-19. Rehabs are considered essential services. Some outpatient treatment programs have switched to online only during Covid, but others still meet in person. If so, they use all the safety measures, such as masks and distancing, to keep clients safe.

For the more severe AUD an inpatient program is the best option. Inpatient rehabs are still taking patients, too. These rehabs have aligned all their centers to the CDC safety guidelines. It is best to call in advance and inquire as to whether they have a bed for you. Also ask the rehab what safety measures they are taking during Covid.

What to Expect in Treatment

Most AUD treatment programs will share common goals and elements. The common goal of rehabs is to help the client change their behaviors. This is a process that takes time, and will use many proven therapies to assist in making the changes.

The treatment process begins with detox. During the detox phase, which takes about a week, the client will be closely watched for signs of distress. Meds will be offered to help ease any detox symptoms that arise, and there will be mental health support, too.

After detox the treatment phase begins. Using CBT, DBT, and other therapies the client will slowly make needed changes. There will also be classes to teach about how to avoid a relapse. Also, the clients will engage in 12-step meetings for increased social support. Most programs are 1-4 months in length.

If you have acquired a drinking problem during COVID-19 do not despair. There are many support sources to help you overcome the AUD and return to wellness.

Ken Seeley Communities Provides Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Ken Seeley Communities is a recovery complex in Palm Springs. KSC uses a blend of proven evidence-based therapies, holistic, and 12-step approaches for client success. Call us today with any questions at 844-230-4911.