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originally posted 4/30/2020
8/24/2020 update – binge drinking and Covid19
It’s October now and six months later, Covid19 continues to rock our world; no part of life remains untouched. Life is increasingly unpredictable and much of the economy devastated. People drink more than ever now to dull their pain, deal with stress and cope with boredom and lonliness. A big difference between now and six months ago is that casual happy hours morphed for many into binge drinking. This trend is concerning; binge drinking is a dangerous practice that sometimes becomes a debilitating alcohol addiction.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. People who binge drink find relief from everyday challenges, and understandably, many need that escape right now. But excessive drinking sometimes has deadly consequences related to health and safety.
If you have concern over how much you drink while hunkered down at home, check in with yourself. Try to limit your alcohol intake; for example, take sips instead of big gulps to slow down. Or only have a drink with a meal. You can also enlist the help of a friend or family member as an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
Helpful tools to help limit your drinking
Alcohol use disorder questionnaire
Criteria for alcohol use disorder
If you fear you may have a problem that won’t go away on its own after the pandemic, check the criteria for alcohol use disorder. Not everyone who binge drinks develops an alcohol use disorder, but it’s important to know if you are at risk. If so, you may want to consider help from a professional or support group. You are not alone; don’t be embarrassed to admit you need help.
Be kind to yourself
The covid19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation with far reaching consequences. Remember to be kind to yourself – all any of us can expect of ourselves is to do the best we can, and to help others in need if we can.
4/30/2020 – Drinking more during lock-down?
Self isolation does not require we forego good wine (or food). But when does drinking alone become a problem?
At least once a week I receive an invitation for a Zoom happy hour. Though I generally don’t drink alone, I happily participate in these one to two hour group video chats with friends and family. It’s fun, provides some much needed socialization and is a good way to pass the time. Admittedly, however, I no longer wait for a happy hour invitation to pour myself a drink. The days are long and by 5:00 pm I am ready to sit down, watch the news and have my glass of wine.
I work from home under usual conditions, so the coronavirus is not to blame for the amount of time I spend alone. So what is different now? The big change is that prior to the pandemic I regularly met with clients at their offices or over lunch to break up the monotony. Sometimes I ran errands during the day or early evening. I knew I could go out if I wanted and did not stress that I might get sick if I chose not to social distance. I did not need comfort at the end of the workday.
People are engaging more with alcohol than health care brands on social media during quarantine.
According to a recent article in marketwatch.com, U.S, sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55%, with online alcohol sales up 243%, in the week ending March 21, 2020, according to a Nielsen market research report. Without the option to imbibe at bars or restaurants, people purchased far more alcohol for their homes than normal. According to data from the ListenFirst social analytics agency, engagement and growth of nearly 300 alcoholic beverage brands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were 326.51% higher this past March than in 2019.
“Given the amount of normal activities that have been taken away from consumers during quarantine, people are especially thankful that they’re still able to drink, which is a big contributor to why social engagement around alcohol brands went up,” explains ListenFirst Chief Marketing Officer Tracy David in a statement to Forbes.com
In contrast, the ListenFirst agency showed social media engagement with health care brands, which came in second in growth to alcohol brands, rose only 131.35% over the same time period.
If drinking more during the lock-down, does that mean you will drink more after quarantine is lifted?
The uptake of alcohol sales raises questions about potential long-term impacts. No one knows for sure if people are at risk of excessive drinking after the states open up, but Carl Hart, neuroscientist at Columbia University, believes no reason exists to think a surge of alcohol addiction will follow this pandemic. He does think, however, that the devastation inflicted by the pandemic can result in new cases of addiction as a coping mechanism, particularly among those who struggle with substance abuse. Job loss, financial issues and worry about loved ones can push people over the edge.
Those who turned to drinking more than usual during the lock-down will likely resume old habits when life returns to our “new normal”. Think about it – If you are someone who tends to drink a lot more on vacations, you know it doesn’t continue when you go home and resume your responsibilities. It’s a good idea however to monitor how much you drink after your state opens up. If you still imbibe with the same frequency as during the quarantine, continue to drink alone, and you notice your relationships and/or job are affected, you may have a problem. Know you are not alone and that help is available.
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