May is Mental Health Month #4

Alcohol Use During the Age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging on many fronts.  As it taxes our resilience, it’s critical that we evaluate our coping strategies, enhance what’s healthy, and discard what’s unhealthy.

In a recent conversation between two co-workers, one shared, “I have to admit, I’m drinking more now than I ever have.” The other laughed and said, “Me too! What else can you do these days?” Conversations, like this between co-workers, have sadly become commonplace. Alcohol and other substances, have become everyday staples due to ineffective coping strategies for many individuals managing the ongoing stress of the pandemic.

The Nielsen marketing research firm began following this troubling trend and noted that, in the week ending March 21:

  • Sales of alcoholic beverages spiked by 55%
  • Spirit sales (hard liquors like tequila, gin, cocktail mixes) increased by 75%
  • Beer purchases increased by 66%
  • Wine sales increased by 42%

While other businesses are struggling, alcohol sales have climbed. Restaurants, breweries, and alcohol beverage stores offer carry out and delivery services which makes alcohol readily available. Virtual wine tastings and Zoom happy hours have become commonplace, and sometimes daily, events. During the pandemic, people report turning to alcohol to deal with feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation/loneliness, and as a way to cope with stress. In addition, in part because “normal” social supports are limited, people are increasingly turning to alcohol for comfort.

Please read the attachment (Alcohol Consumption and Substance Use with the Challenges of COVID-19) for additional information about alcohol/substance use while “staying at home” as well as resources to help with a variety of concerns.