While casually scrolling through social media pages in the past few weeks, seeing memes representing dependency on alcohol since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have become fairly common. Observing people wait in long lines to purchase beer and wine in grocery stores has become the norm and news articles revolving around curbside liquor pickup have been circulating. The hashtag #quarantini has even been trending across social media platforms. It’s a fact that alcohol consumption in the United States is increasing since social distancing measures went into effect. Spirit sales have increased by 55% compared to around this time in 2019 according to Nielsen, an international measurement and data analytics company. What is causing the drive to purchase and consume more alcohol? Many are using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and loneliness. Being isolated and out of sync with a daily routine increases the chance to develop a substance use disorder, or may trigger a relapse to those already in recovery. People who report feeling lonely are more than twice as likely to have a substance use disorder.
Alcohol Consumption Tends To Increase After Disasters and World Events
- A SARS outbreak on Beijing hospital employees in 2003 found greater likelihood of alcohol abuse or dependence symptoms three years later associated with quarantine or working in high-risk settings such as wards dedicated to treating patients with the respiratory illness.
- Greater exposure to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was associated with more binge drinking after a year, and higher odds of alcohol dependence one and two years later.
- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, alcohol consumption rose. After Hurricane Katrina, adolescent alcohol use increased in Louisiana.
Tips for Maintaining Sobriety and Taking Care of Yourself
Take Advantage of Online Meetings
AA and NA provide several options for meetings and staying connected during this time. They are currently providing everything from group text chats to phone meetings to email meetings. Aside from AA and NA, the National Alliance for Mental Illness offers several resources online for mental health.
According to McKinsey Healthcare, 17% of consumers cancelled mental health appointments, at a time when it’s needed more than ever. If your mental health provider is offering video or phone appointments, it’s best to continue sessions as if you would in person. Recovery Centers of America is currently offering outpatient telehealth sessions from our Devon, PA location.
Stay in Close Contact with Your Sponsor
Be sure to keep in frequent touch with your sponsor by initiating check-ins throughout the day via phone, video chat or text. Try taking on a new activity together such as virtual workout sessions or a book club.
Don’t Feel Pressured by What Social Media Suggests Doing
You may see articles floating around that suggest using this time to learn a new skill and “take advantage of this time we may never get again.” Don’t feel pressured. Do what is best for you and be sure to give yourself credit for small things you are accomplishing throughout the day.
Take Time for Self-Care
The term “self-care” has become all too familiar in the past few weeks. Everyone has their own definition of what that may look like. Remember, what works for one person may not work for another. Don’t feel bad if yoga or meditation isn’t your thing. Allowing yourself to take social media breaks, turn off the news and to rest and recharge are simple ways to contribute to self-care.
Now is Not the Time to Put Treatment on Hold
If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, it can be dangerous to postpone treatment. It is understandable why entering treatment now may seem scary or uncertain, but addiction needs to be treated as any other disease. Recovery Centers of America is taking strict precautions in our facilities which includes COVID-19 testing for all patients and staff members. Learn more about the strict protocols and procedures we are taking during this time.
Healthline.com, Healio Primary Care, Mckinsey Healthcare, MSN Health