Pandemic Problem Drinking
It’s hard to believe it has been more than two years since the beginning of the pandemic. Now, many of us are breathing a sigh of relief, finally mask-free, and able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
However, the hidden impact of COVID-19 is only beginning to unveil itself. There are still those struggling in the shadows, harboring feelings of isolation, unrest, and hardships. For some, what may have started as a method for stress relief has become a cycle of substance abuse.
It’s no surprise people started drinking more at home during the pandemic. In April 2020, liquor stores reported an increase of 54% in alcohol sales. For the first time in many states, you could order alcohol to be delivered to your home, resulting in a 234% increase in online alcohol sales.
Now we are starting to see the damage: a dramatic rise in alcohol-related deaths. According to a recent study, alcohol-related deaths increased to 99,017 in 2020, from 78,927 the previous year, an increase of 25%.1 The study includes all deaths in which alcohol was listed as an underlying or contributing cause.1
The numbers went up for everyone, both men and women, of all ages. But young adults, ages 25 to 44, experienced the greatest increase in alcohol-related deaths rising nearly 40% over the previous year.1
Alcohol Awareness Month
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This year, the campaign is focusing on raising awareness surrounding the increase in alcohol-related deaths and encouraging the public to make an effort to understand the causes and treatment available for one of the nation’s biggest health issues.
According to the Director of Nursing at AdCare Treatment Facilities, it is critical for those with severe alcohol addiction to seek professional help.
“Individuals, particularly those requiring detox, may risk physical harm and even death by stopping on their own,” says Kara J. Levinson RN, BSN MBA/HCM.
Levinson also explains how a sense of community can strengthen recovery.
“Those struggling gain support from each other, which is why so much of AdCare’s treatment is provided in group settings.”
The 2022 Alcohol Awareness campaign also aims to reduce the social stigma associated with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and to educate people on how the disease can be addressed, offering help and advice for families as well as those struggling with addiction.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Recognizing the signs of an alcohol use disorder can help you determine if it’s time to seek help. Some of the signs may include:3
- Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol.
- Continuing to drink regardless of personal, work, or social problems being caused or worsened by the effects of alcohol.
- Persistently expressing a desire to lessen or regulate the use of alcohol but being unable to do so.
- Experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have alcohol.
- Having to drink more to achieve the same effect.
- Prioritizing drinking over previously enjoyable or important activities.
Research shows that people who are experiencing economic and psychological stress tend to consume more alcohol.2 These issues, among others, are prevalent during a pandemic and many people may still be struggling to stay sober. To observe National Alcohol Awareness Month the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence recommends starting sober activities to address stress.
Sober activities may include:
- Exercise: Sign up for a walk or run in your area, go for a hike, a bike ride or join an exercise group.
- Eating healthy: Look for a cooking class or start a gardening project.
- Seek support: Join a 12-step program or a local support group.
We are just beginning to scratch the surface of substance misuse consequences stemming from COVID-19. If you are beginning to recognize a pattern of problematic substance misuse in yourself, or a loved one, be sure to reach out for help. American Addiction Centers (AAC) treat alcohol addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. If you are looking for alcohol rehab in Rhode Island, contact our AdCare facility .