The pandemic has not only limited Americans to their homes but has also pushed them towards the bottle. With the lockdown posing multiple challenges and changing the new normal, more and more Americans sought the comfort of alcohol as a coping mechanism.
According to a recent study, as many as every third American has tried binge drinking since the pandemic began. The study results were based on 2000 interviews carried out by scientists from the School of Public Health, University of Texas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that raises the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of a person to 0.08 g/dl or more in a single session of approximately two hours. Alternatively, binge drinking is understood as the consumption of five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in a short span of two hours.
Figures from different studies confirm that Americans are drinking more during pandemic
By March 21, 2020, national alcohol sales registered a 54 percent increase while online sales increased by 262 percent compared to the previous year reported The Neilson Company in a report published in May 2020.
A study published in the JAMA Open Network stated that overall alcohol consumption increased by 0.72 days over the baseline of 5.48 days in 2019 representing a 14 percent increase in drinking. The research, conducted by Dr. Michael S Pollard, a senior sociologist at the RAND Corporation and his team, observed alcohol use pattern in 1540 adults with a mean age of 56.6 years. Further, three out of four adults consumed alcohol one more day in a month. Women recorded a 41 percent increase in heavy drinking compared to 2019. The figures were higher for the Hispanic population.
The combination of anxiety and depression and the ability to get alcohol delivered to your doorstep within an hour is a recipe for increased alcohol use, said Dr. Jeffrey L Reynolds, CEO and president of Family and Children’s Association, New York.
Why are Americans binge drinking?
While any reason for drinking cannot be justified, there are multiple that people dependent on alcoholic use. Additionally, the lockdown and the fact that the situation refuses to come under control has now become the top reason for people to drink. Other reasons include:
- Higher stress levels
- Financial insecurity
- The fear of losing job because of the pandemic.
- Increased hours spent with children, who naturally have higher energy levels.
- Spending more time in the house in the company of loved ones resulting in strained relationships.
- As children are not enjoying being cooped in the house, they are unhappy, and the effect is petering to parents.
“Alcohol consumption is often used as a way to cope with mental distress,” said Dr. Pollard. The lockdown during the pandemic has increased loneliness, depression and anxiety, reflected by increased alcohol use. Unfortunately, alcohol use also contributes to depression and anxiety creating a vicious circle of increased mental distress, higher alcohol and substance use and further stress, he explained.
Short- and long-term effects of binge drinking
While the short-term effects include slurred speech, reduced reaction time, intoxication, impaired decision-making ability, it is the long-term effects that are more worrying. Strained or broken relationships that may result from increased drug and alcohol abuse will affect families for years to come. Children, belonging to broken families, may be emotionally unstable and lose trust in the concept of relationships and family.
Health-wise, binge drinking can lead to alcohol dependence in the long-run, which in turn would lead to higher medical costs, reduced productive years, and increased social cost. Driving while intoxication can lead to a driving under the influence (DUI) charge starting a criminal record for the person and risking their lives and of people involved in drunken accidents.
Addiction treatment during pandemic
With detox centers at government hospitals converting to corona-treatment centers and dual diagnosis treatment centers closing due to reduced capacity, the option for seeking addiction treatment has become limited. Therefore, responding to the pandemic and the need of the hour, majority of the addiction treatment centers have developed online modules to help people. They are using online web applications as substitutes for face-to-face meetings providing reassurance to combat the loneliness of the pandemic.
If you or a loved one isexhibiting the symptoms of alcoholism and is suffering from a mental disorder, then get in touch with the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 or chat online with our expert to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment in California. Our certified experts can also help you connect with one of the reputed dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.