• Addiction & recovery

Alcohol Awareness Month: How the COVID-19 Outbreak is Impacting Alcohol Consumption

Nzinga Harrison

April 11, 2020


As people across the country continue to practice social distancing and follow stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 outbreak, health authorities are raising awareness of another growing public health concern: increased high-risk drinking. These timely concerns come as sales of alcoholic beverages skyrocket following the stay-at-home orders, and also in recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Importance of Alcohol Awareness During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Established in 1987, the purpose of Alcohol Awareness Month is to increase education related to alcohol addiction. While the negative effects of alcoholism have been well-established for decades, during this time of high stress related to the pandemic, some people may use alcohol as a “coping mechanism.”

In reality, excessive alcohol consumption can cause serious health problems and severe social consequences. With the pandemic disrupting normal life routines and leading to feelings of isolation, it can make it more likely for a pattern of excessive drinking to start or continue.

There have also been false social media posts regarding alcohol’s ability to kill the virus that causes COVID-19. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims and in fact, drinking alcohol is likely to increase health risks if a person is infected with the virus. Alcohol will not work as a disinfectant for your internal system or provide any protection from becoming infected.

Alcohol’s Impact on Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

To minimize the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, it is of the utmost importance to maintain good physical health. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a variety of short and long-term health complications, including weakening the body’s immune system and ability to fight off infectious diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), heavy use of alcohol increases the risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is one of the most severe complications associated with COVID-19.

In terms of mental health, some people believe that alcohol helps them to cope with stressful situations. In reality, “self-medicating” with alcohol is more likely to increase worries and negative thoughts during these challenging circumstances. Alcohol use can also worsen pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others.

Alcohol Consumption and Safe-at-Home or Quarantine Orders

With millions of people are staying at home to stop the spread of the virus, alcohol is now accessible and available to consume excessively in private, at any hour of the day. Although the pandemic has up-ended so many aspects of everyday life, it is important to maintain all semblances of normalcy, especially when it comes to alcohol consumption. Here are some important tips for safe alcohol use.

  • Understand the health and safety risks that alcohol poses while staying at home and try to avoid drinking.

  • Be aware that excessive drinking is associated with domestic violence, self-harm, and child neglect or abuse. If you feel like you’re going to hurt yourself or others, get help as soon as possible by contacting the local authorities.

  • Know the consumption guidelines for healthy adults: one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Avoid binge drinking, which is four or more drinks during a single occasion for women and five or more drinks for men.

  • Practice professionalism when working from home by maintaining standard workplace codes of conduct and not drinking during work hours, even at lunchtime.

  • When shopping for groceries and other household necessities, avoid stockpiling alcohol, which could lead to excessive consumption.

  • Prioritize buying healthy and nutritious food instead of alcohol. Remember that alcohol is not a necessary part of your diet.

  • Instead of drinking alcohol to pass the time or manage your stress, do an indoor workout or take up a hobby that engages you physically and mentally.

  • Do not introduce your children or other young people to drinking and avoid getting intoxicated in front of them.

How to Manage Drinking During the COVID-19 Outbreak

If you have problems with alcohol use, here are some ways to manage your drinking under the current circumstances.

  • Although it is a stressful situation, the pandemic also provides a unique opportunity to reduce drinking or quit altogether. Without pressure from social situations like parties, bars, and nightclubs, you can feel more in control over how much you drink and reduce your use.

  • While it’s important to put physical distance between you and others, it doesn’t mean that you have to socially isolate. Calls, texts, video chats, and messaging your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors can help you feel less lonely and likely to drink.

  • Try to avoid triggers, like music, movies, television shows, social media, or advertisements, that create a craving to drink.

  • To stay grounded and reduce anxiety, focus on things that you can actually control. Maintain as much of your daily routine as possible, including workouts, cooking, hobbies, and relaxation techniques.

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Even in the time of a pandemic, remember: there is no bad day to start treatment. Whether you’re already in recovery or looking to begin or restart treatment, it is still possible to get treatment for alcohol addiction at this time.

If you are having problems with alcohol use, many addiction treatment programs have switched to a virtual care model. At Eleanor Health, our members can use our telehealth services to access medical professionals, therapists, peer groups, and medications over the internet from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Although COVID-19 has changed how we provide addiction treatment services, it has not changed our high level of care, commitment, and compassion to support you through every stage of your recovery journey.

Contact us today to set up a virtual intake and start your #RecoveryForLife.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.

Eleanor Health

Recovery for life.

Our mission at Eleanor Health is to help people affected by alcoholism and other addiction live amazing lives. We deliver whole-person, comprehensive care and are passionate about transforming the quality, delivery, and accessibility of alcohol addiction & mental health treatment. Our actions are rooted in respect for each member's values, culture, and life experiences, and our commitment to their wellbeing is unwavering and without judgement.

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