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  • Addiction & recovery

Social Media and Alcohol During COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Nzinga Harrison
Nzinga Harrison

July 22, 2020

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If you open up any social media app in the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, you likely don’t have to scroll too far before you encounter a post about drinking at home. Over the past weeks, as millions of people hunkered down amid statewide stay-at-home orders, some have turned to alcohol as a way to pass the time, destress, and socialize virtually–all while posting their beverages on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Friends are sharing countless memes about “Quaran-tinis” and drinking at home. With bars and restaurants closed as non-essential businesses, local out-of-work bartenders are taking their skills to social media, showing followers how to make their favorite cocktail from home. Celebrities like Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, are going live to chat over a beverage. The Food Network star was seen on Instagram Live creating an oversized drink, saying “It’s always cocktail hour in a crisis.” Even alcohol brands are experiencing a substantial uptick in their social engagement as sales surge and more people mention and interact with them on social media.

With so much of our lives on the Internet, it’s understandable that drinking is just another part of life, like vacations, work, or family, that is documented and shared with online friends and followers. These types of posts are often seen as commonplace jokes based on shared experiences that can appeal broadly to all types of people, but especially for three growing drinking cultures: moms, college students, and millennials.

These posts normalize  partying and drinking, especially at an unusual time like this. Studies indicate that posting alcohol-related content on social media is associated with higher alcohol consumption and can play a subtle, suggestive role in influencing another person’s drinking habits. Alcohol-related social media posts can contribute to unhealthy drinking behaviors, such as:

  • Excessive drinking or binge drinking

  • High-risk actions like unprotected sex, vandalism, theft, or violence

  • Feelings of peer pressure to drink

  • Feelings of anxiety or depression while or after drinking

  • Being physically sick or hungover after drinking

  • Influencing others to drink excessively

  • Encouraging underage drinking

  • Triggering relapse for people recovering from alcohol addiction

  • Getting in trouble at work for inappropriate or alcohol-related social media posts

Dr. Harrison, Addiction Expert, Psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer for Eleanor Health says “It’s important to think twice when sharing alcohol-related posts. These posts can come with unintended  impacts because of who may be  influenced or what the post suggests about your own alcohol habits.”

Need help with alcohol during quarantine? Eleanor Health is here to support you during the COVID-19 outbreak. Try us out by joining one of our free virtual support groups or booking a free 15-minute consultation.

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.