It’s no secret that binge drinking and alcohol abuse are up during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many people turning to alcohol out of depression, stress, anxiety, and sheer boredom, it’s creating something of a perfect storm of vulnerability to alcohol addiction. Data from Nielsen published by the American Heart Association indicates that alcohol sales in stores were up 54% in late March compared to the same time last year, while online sales were up nearly 500% in late April.
Even those who weren’t previously disposed to heavy drinking are being heavily tested by the emotional and logistical turmoil of everyday life. It’s become incredibly difficult to live life as we know it or are used to it. With the country and the world increasingly on edge, and many people more frequently turning to alcohol to make them feel better, it might be a good idea to check in with yourself or someone you think may be vulnerable to binge drinking to see if you’re self-medicating with alcohol.
What Does Binge Drinking and Alcohol Abuse Look Like?
It may be hard to pinpoint what alcohol abuse or binge drinking during COVID-19 actually looks like. With the hours running together and people searching for any means to escape the uncertainty and isolation, it can be too easy to characterize escalated drinking as “understandable” or a “legitimate coping mechanism”. The reality is, however, that whether alcohol abuse takes place during COVID-19 or post-pandemic, it must be spotted and addressed immediately to prevent the onset of addiction. If you think you or your love one might be vulnerable to alcohol abuse during COVID-19, here are some questions to ask:
- Am I drinking more than four drinks per day?
- Do I ever forget what happens when I’m drinking?
- Do I have feelings of guilt or shame when I drink too much?
- Am I drinking during the day or to pass time?
- Am I drinking alone?
- Do I think that I need to cut back?
- Am I surprised when I drink more than I intended?
- Do I drink even though I tell myself I’m not going to?
- Do others comment on my drinking?
- Am I lying about my drinking to loved ones?
- Are other areas of my life suffering because of drinking?
- Do I get angry or indignant when someone brings up my drinking?
While we may be quick to blame the pandemic for many of these behaviors, it’s critical that we’re honest with ourselves about how many questions to which we answered “yes”.
I’m Binge Drinking…Now What?
Binge drinking in isolation is an express route to long-term alcohol abuse and addiction. If you find yourself drinking too much during the pandemic, or any other time, here are some things you can do to reverse course:
- Write down all the reasons to stop and put a plan in writing.
- Try and change your environment however possible (even if it’s just safely going outside more instead of staying cooped up in the house).
- Ask your loved ones for support (even if it’s just asking them not to drink in front of you or bringing alcohol into the space where you’re quarantining).
- Be honest with yourself about why you’re drinking. Boredom? Fatigue? Stress? Escape? None of these are healthy answers.
- Go to a meeting if you think your drinking is out of control. There are many ways to find virtual AA meetings that you can attend to help you stay safe.
- Get rid of all your alcohol or give it away and don’t purchase anymore.
If your or your loved one’s drinking has gotten out of control, Recovery Unplugged is here to provide safe, compassionate and supportive treatment for alcohol abuse during COVID-19. Contact our team today to start your treatment.