Increased Alcohol Use During COVID: What You Need to Know
During the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing measures have resulted in people missing out on drinking in bars and restaurants. As a result, many people are pouring more at home. One survey found that 25% of people in the 35-54 age group reported drinking more at home during the pandemic because of the lack of a regular schedule, boredom, and stress.1
This is a worrisome trend, especially for those in recovery from alcoholism at Washington drug rehabs. The coronavirus outbreak could lead to a relapse in prior alcoholics or the initiation of harmful alcohol use in non-drinkers. Everyone needs to be informed about the risks of alcohol use during COVID to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic. What can people in detox programs do to stay sober during COVID? How can someone continue detox withdrawal during the pandemic?
Alcohol and Your Body
Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits contain ethanol (ethyl alcohol) which is responsible for most of the harmful effects of alcohol. Alcohol affects almost every organ in the body with various short- and long-term health effects.
Specifically, alcohol weakens the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight infections like the coronavirus. Also, alcohol alters decision-making and judgment and can cause a person to undertake risky behaviors during the COVID outbreak.
Heavy alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), which is one of the severe complications of COVID-19.2 People who drink tend to smoke or smoke more compared to non-drinkers. Smokers are at increased risk of dangerous complications of COVID.2
For these reasons, it is recommended to avoid alcohol altogether or ensure drinking is at a minimum during the pandemic.
Myths About Alcohol and COVID
Some people mistakenly believe that consuming alcohol can destroy the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This is not true. Consuming alcohol does NOT destroy coronavirus. Also, alcohol consumption does NOT disinfect the mouth and throat or kill the virus in inhaled air. On the contrary, increased alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of health complications, including reduced immunity and increased risk of getting the infection.
Alcohol is present in many products, such as hand sanitizers, where it works as a disinfectant for the skin. However, these products are not meant for human consumption. Some alcoholic products also contain other substances like methanol which can be extremely harmful, even fatal, if consumed even in small amounts. There have been anecdotal reports of people ingesting alcohol-containing products with the mistaken belief that it will protect them against the virus. It is important to be aware of the hazards of alcoholic disinfectant products and their correct use to protect yourself and your family. Hand sanitizers and skin disinfectants are only for external protection against the virus and should never be ingested.
Controlling Alcohol Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you are a recovering alcoholic who is receiving treatment at a Washington drug rehab, there are several things you can do to avoid a relapse during COVID.
- Stay involved in a formal detox withdrawal and addiction treatment program.
- Understand your triggers, especially those that may be increased during COVID, such as stress, boredom, and lack of structure.
- Manage triggers in healthy ways, such as by becoming more involved with family or an alcoholism support group.
- Handle stress by engaging in yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
- Idleness and boredom are triggers for alcohol consumption. Keep busy by learning something new or staying in touch with friends and family through technology.
- Eat healthy, exercise, and get sufficient sleep.
- Obtain treatment for co-occurring mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
For people who are non-drinkers or social drinkers, it is advisable to avoid drinking alcohol during COVID as much as possible. This will ensure you do not weaken your immunity and put your health at risk. If you do drink, keep it to a minimum and avoid getting intoxicated or drunk. Do not mix alcohol with medications, even herbal or over-the-counter remedies, as this can be dangerous.
Isolation, Quarantine, and Alcohol
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, many governments have closed down bars, night clubs, and restaurants – places where people usually gather to drink. More people are staying at home than ever before. If you have been trying to cut down your alcohol consumption, this a great opportunity to reduce your drinking and improve your health. Avoid stocking alcohol at home during quarantine or shelter-at-home orders. Instead, when you go grocery shopping, make an effort to buy healthy, nutritious food that will enhance your immune system and protect you from COVID-19.
If you’re working from home, don’t drink during lunch break. Try to stick to workplace rules and remember you’re still expected to be mentally sharp and fit, which is not possible if you are under the influence of alcohol.
Don’t rely on alcohol as a stress-reliever. Alcohol can increase symptoms of panic, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Rather, use physical activity and indoor workouts to cope with stress, burn calories, and strengthen your immune system.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism at Washington Drug Rehabs
For people struggling with an alcohol use disorder, it is essential to continue receiving detox withdrawal and addiction treatment. Such individuals are at greater risk of COVID-19 due to the impact of alcohol on their health, including reduced immunity and underlying health conditions. Also, alcoholics are more likely to experience incarceration and homelessness, which puts them at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. Moreover, the isolation and loneliness as a result of staying at home can worsen mental health symptoms and lead to increased alcohol use.
Drug rehab centers in Washington are providing support to people battling alcohol addiction. Many facilities are offering online interventions for alcohol use disorders with professional counseling and support groups. For people who have already gone through detox withdrawal at a Washington drug rehab, these web-based virtual recovery programs are a chance to obtain alcoholism treatment in privacy and relative anonymity.