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Alcohol Use Increased During Covid-19

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open in September of 2020 discussed how alcohol consumption among Americans (and particularly women) has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study hypothesized that more people may be turning to alcohol to cope with the effects of the pandemic, such as job loss, mental health problems, and stress caused by isolation or the disruption of routines.

Alcohol has been a classic coping mechanism for humans throughout history. But the recent uptick in alcohol consumption may be an indicator that the pandemic has triggered another health crisis of problematic alcohol use among Americans. Increased drinking could result in higher rates of alcohol use disorder as alcoholics, who are, it seems, born with a genetic propensity to the disease, begin to spiral into true addiction. And, across the general population, any large increase in alcohol use can cause a rise in related physical and mental health issues.

Although vaccination rates in America are improving, and many locations are beginning to “open up” again, many of the effects of the pandemic remain and it may be some time yet before things return to normal. If you’re misusing alcohol to get through this difficult time, you’re likely to experience harmful side effects (such as hangovers, anxiety, depression, and craving) as a result.

Early in the pandemic, as bars and restaurants closed down, at-home alcohol sales increased. Overall, from 2019 to 2020, alcohol consumption increased by 14%, with women exhibiting a 41% increase in alcohol use over a 2019 baseline.

According to a study published in the journal Preventive Medicine, people with anxiety and depression are also more likely to report an increase in drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic than those without mental health issues. And COVID seems to have also increased the rates of depression and anxiety among Americans. Although the data indicated that harmful alcohol use due to mental health issues was more common among younger people (adults under the age of 40), older adults with anxiety and depression also exhibited problematic alcohol use. They were twice as likely to report increased drinking during the pandemic compared to older adults without mental health issues.

The increased rates of alcohol consumption in America may stem from the fact that the pandemic has caused a lot of additional stress and uncertainty in people’s lives. Much of this stress likely stems from COVID-related issues that have negatively impacted the quality of life. 

Previously, many people would have probably found healthy ways to cope, such as spending time with friends and family, going to the gym, or getting out for leisure activities like seeing a movie or shopping with a friend. However, COVID has isolated us and left many of us with a lot of empty time on our hands.

If you or a loved one are having increasing troubles with alcohol or drug use, it might be a good time to consider options for recovery. Many people enter detox and then go to rehab–this is a safe and effective way to begin to medically recover from substances and to start our journey of recovery through therapy and AA meetings and other approaches. Sober Living, such as Harmony Haus in Westlake, is also a good idea. We offer a safe and luxurious space that is free of substances and full of supportive friends and peers, with access to solid clinical support and recovery meetings. Harmony Haus is a recovery residence in Austin, Texas, located near the Greenbelt in a pleasant neighborhood that will help you feel right at home from your first day. It’s near Westlake Village, which is a great area for shopping and socializing. We can help you beat the COVID blues–with exercise, group dinners, plenty of socializing, and a fun environment. So check us out! Contact one of our Admission Experts today to schedule a tour by calling (512) 387-2978 or by visiting us at