Are you, like millions of other Americans, using alcohol to help you cope with the stress during COVID-19 restrictions?  If so, you may have already discovered that it’s not helping.  But, now you’re stuck with an alcohol dependence that won’t let go.  Unfortunately, using alcohol to relieve stress can cause adverse consequences that increase your stress levels rise rather than decrease.

So, in recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month coming in April, we would like to provide some information about the dangers of alcohol and suggestions for taking charge of your situation.

Has the Pandemic Caused People to Increase Their Alcohol Intake?

Unfortunately, in the last year, the virus pandemic has caused significant changes in our daily routines.  Many people are able to muddle through and maintain some sense of normalcy.  However, some individuals still struggle to cope with the challenges, and many are doing so great.  For instance, during the pandemic, alcohol sales increased significantly.

In a recent survey, 1,000 participants over the age of 18 indicated their drug or alcohol use had increased in the past month:

  • 55% for alcohol increase
  • 37% for marijuana increase
  • 15% increased opioid use
  • 11% increased their use of benzodiazepines (Xanax)
  • 10% upped their prescription stimulant (Adderal, etc.) use
  • 36% increased their illicit drug use

All in all, the participants had varying reasons for their increased substance use.  For example:

  • 53% to deal with stress during the pandemic
  • 39% were bored due to lockdowns
  • 32% coping with mental health symptoms in addition to the above

Overall, the results of the survey reveal that the Coronavirus challenges have sparked an increase in using alcohol to relieve stress.

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Why Should You Be Worried About Increased Alcohol Use?

According to Neilsen, alcohol sales increased 54% for the week ending March 21, 2020.  A few weeks later, the World Health Organization issued warnings that alcohol use during the pandemic could exacerbate health concerns.

Of course, whether we’re in the middle of a pandemic is not the issue.  The issue is increased alcohol use, for any reason.  The health consequences of prolonged or excessive alcohol consumption can be life-altering or deadly.

Here are some of the reasons to be worried about using alcohol to relieve stress:

Short-term effects of alcohol use:

  • Slurred speech
  • Distorted vision
  • Impaired judgment
  • Poor coordination
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting, diarrhea
  • Blackouts
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Long-term effects of alcohol use:

  • Falls, burns, drowning, car accidents
  • Increased violence
  • Family problems
  • Sexual problems
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Job loss
  • High blood pressure, stroke, heart problems
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Cancer of the throat and mouth
  • Alcohol poisoning

Generally, using alcohol to relieve stress will likely lead to much bigger problems later on.

How to Relieve Stress Without Alcohol

Regardless of the reasons why a person uses alcohol, there are healthier remedies.

Therefore, these suggestions are for persons who are actively using alcohol, or for those in recovery from alcoholism:

  • Reach out to someone you trust and who understands what you’re dealing with.
  • Find some way to redirect your attention.  Get out of your own head.  Help someone else.  Start a new hobby.  Learn to play an instrument.
  • Change your perspective.  Think of this situation as temporary and an opportunity to grow stronger.
  • Recognize that you can do something to take better care of yourself during this stressful time.

Staying sober or getting sober is a struggle during times of duress.  But, with the right help, you can meet the challenge.

Get Help With Alcohol Abuse Today

In retrospect, using alcohol to relieve stress may have seemed like a good idea in the beginning.  So, if you are now trying to stop using alcohol, but have failed, contact us at New Beginnings Rehab Center today.  With our unique, multi-modality program, you can get sober and stay sober for yourself and your family.

Resources:
  • pipnj.org – Alcohol Awareness Month 2021
  • kff.org – The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use
  • jamanetwork.com – Changes in Adult Alcohol Use and Consequences During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US
  • nielseniq.com – Rebalancing the COVID-19 Effect on Alcohol Sales