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Is Dry January Still a ‘Thing’ During a Pandemic?

Dillon McClernon

Authored by Dillon McClernon

It’s no secret that many people use alcohol to cope with stress. According to researchers, there are 4 main categories of stress:

  • General life stress
  • Catastrophic events
  • Childhood stress
  • Ethnic minority stress

COVID is weighing heavily on marriages, as people are spending more time at home and are dealing with additional stress, like lose of a job or income. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption increases within 12 months of a major disaster – and COVID is considered a catastrophic event, much like September 11th and Hurricane Katrina. And with evidence of minorities receiving inadequate treatment and access to healthcare, there’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic falls into more than one stress category.

In case you had any doubt about the combination of stress and drinking, listen to this fact: stores sold 54% more alcohol in late March compared to the year before. Online sales more than doubled.

In October, the CDC published a report showing alcohol-related deaths on the rise in the United States. Americans are drinking 14% more often during the pandemic. That can be a huge problem for everyone – people who were already drinking too much to begin with, people who were borderline drinking too much, and people who are suddenly drinking more than they used to.

During arguably one of the worst years most of us have lived through, hardly anyone is thinking about Dry January. Instead, the only thing most of us are thinking is, When will this end?

But it’s more important than ever to check in with your drinking. Otherwise, it’s just adding a problem (substance use disorder) to another problem (a pandemic).

Someday, this pandemic will end. Life will return to normal – or as close to normal as we know it. What won’t go away? A substance use disorder that developed or worsened during this time.

Ask yourself: Why Am I Drinking?

What role does alcohol play in your life? You don’t have to judge yourself, but you do have to be honest with yourself. Don’t just tell yourself you’re only having one glass of wine when you know it’s a heavy pour. Keep track of how much you drink and when. Do you reach for a glass of wine after having a tough day? Do you feel like you have to end the night with a few beers to get to sleep? When alcohol is the solution to a problem, it’s likely that alcohol is the problem.

Need some motivation?

According to a 2016 British study, 82% of people who participated in Dry January found they felt a sense of achievement afterwards. Those aren’t the only perks participants found:

  • 62% reported better sleep
  • 29% reported weight loss

Try it for yourself to see what surprising benefits await. Who knows – maybe you’ll have better relationships and more enjoyable moments. Maybe you won’t argue with your loved ones as much. Maybe you’ll be able to hit that extra mile on the treadmill or finally have time to check out that hiking trail.  You never know what you’ll discover about yourself – and what you’ll start enjoying again.

If you find your drinking has gotten out of control or you suspect you may have a problem, Recovery Centers of America can help. We have a level of care for whatever stage you’re in, including detoxification, residential inpatient, and outpatient. Call us today – we’re here for you.

Authored by

Dillon McClernon

Dillon McClernon

Dillon currently serves as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at RCA. After his tenure as Chief Communications Officer and senior advisor to RCA, he opted for a full-time position at RCA where he could build a new team linking sales and marketing to directly impact RCA’s mission of saving 1 million lives.


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