By now, the correlation between the COVID-19 pandemic and alcohol addiction has been established and documented. From the beginning, factors like self-isolation, anxiety over getting sick, economic uncertainty, worrying about sick loved ones and many others have greatly exacerbated vulnerability to binge drinking. 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. As the pandemic threatens to reach new heights, once again killing thousands of people per week, there is one population that has been particularly impacted: working parents.
Shifting school policies have given way to sporadic periods of remote learning, which has made it more and more difficult for both working and stay-at-home parents to effectively balance their children’s schedules, as well as their own. On top of that, they’ve had to assume the role of teacher, administrator, nurse, caretaker, activities director and many others. Although schools have started open back up, many districts are going back and forth due to fluctuating rates of infection between in-person and remote instruction, as in the recent case with New York City.
Data from the Research Triangle Institute indicates that an average person’s drinks per day increased 27 percent; the frequency of a person’s drinking that “exceeds drinking guidelines” increased 21 percent; and binge drinking increased 26 percent. Many participants surveyed readily admitted to day-drinking during their child’s home instruction periods.
Disproportionate Impact on Women of Color
Like many adverse issues affecting parents, during the quarantine and in general, these stress-related increases in binge drinking have had a larger impact on women, specifically women of color. The data from RTI found that being female or Black was associated with significant increases in at least one study area, and respondents with children in the household had greater-than-average increases in all of them, meaning that mothers, specifically African-American mothers, are considerably more vulnerable. While men tend to use substances at higher rates than women, women are just as likely to offer substance use disorder, according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:
- Nearly 13 percent of women report past-month binge drinking
- Nearly 20 percent of women of child-bearing age binge drink
- Four percent of overall and 8% of women aged 18 to 25 years had an alcohol use disorder
On average, men’s bodies are more quickly able to metabolize alcohol, which means they can consume larger amounts in shorter periods of time. After drinking the same amount of alcohol, women tend to have higher blood alcohol levels than men, and the immediate effects of alcohol usually occur more quickly and last longer in women than men.
Resources and Help for Parents Vulnerable to Addiction during COVID-19
As the risk of alcohol addiction for parents during COVID-19 has become increasingly apparent, more and more resources have sprung up to offer help and support. The Sober Mom Squad was started less than a month into the pandemic to help vulnerable members of the parent community. The organization describes itself as “pro-sobriety” and can help parents in and out of the recovery community. Another organization called Sober Black Girls Club has seen a significant increase in membership since the pandemic began, and has helped many of its members get sober even in the middle of the pandemic. AA, NA, Smart Recovery and other organizations are also hosting virtual meetings to stay safe and socially distanced while getting support during the pandemic.
When Your COVID-19 Drinking Gets Out of Control
If you’re a parent that’s become vulnerable to alcohol addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. Recovery Unplugged has seen, first-hand, the impact the pandemic has had on working and stay at home parents and we’re ready to offer quality and effective treatment for alcohol addiction. Texas just recently became the first state to surpass one million COVID cases, and we’re standing by to offer safe, expert compassionate care for those affected at our Austin facilities. As Florida continues to eclipse much of the country in diagnosis and fatality, our locations in Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale provide the safest level of infection control when treating our clients for addiction.
The pandemic has tested the mental health of all of us, and as we continue to hold out for a vaccine, Recovery Unplugged wants to remind you and your loved ones that it’s OK to ask for help if you need it. We are all in this together. Get the help you need now. There’s no shame in admitting that the trauma of the pandemic has affected your emotional wellbeing. We’re all living, day to day, and some days are better and worse than others.