With the uncertainties and impacts of COVID-19 continuing to fuel anxiety and force self-isolation, more and more Americans are turning to alcohol as a coping strategy.
Alcohol sales are rapidly rising across the United States as people seek to calm their fears, with most communities deeming beer, wine and liquor sales as an essential service — even during shelter in place orders. In fact, many people can now have their alcohol delivered on demand from local stores.
As a result, alcohol sales in the United States have grown more than 55 percent, with hard liquor sales increasing by an alarming 75 percent increase from March 2019 (Nielsen). The dramatic increase in alcohol sales naturally indicates more Americans are binge drinking to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the misuse of alcohol and other substances such as binge drinking during a global pandemic could have long lasting health impacts and even increase vulnerability to the more severe risks of the coronavirus. In fact, the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed during quarantine can create a dangerous pattern with health risks that can add up quickly.
Although most people who binge drink are not alcoholics, alcoholism is a progressive disease and binge drinking to cope with the pandemic could lead to alcohol dependence over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), binge drinking is the most common and risky pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men — assuming the drinks are consumed within about two hours.
While the coronavirus poses serious public health threats, heavy drinking also carries dangerous health risks. In fact, a study by the CDC reported that between 2006 and 2010, binge drinking resulted in 88,000 deaths in the United States, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years and totaling a loss of 2.5 million years of potential life. The same report showed excessive drinking caused one in 10 deaths among working adults aged 20-64 years.
And, over time, heavy drinking can progress into a daily mental and physical need for alcohol that will impact your health beyond the coronavirus. The health risks for heavy drinkers and alcoholics are very similar in danger and diagnosis.
Help for Alcohol Misuse during the Coronavirus and Beyond
If you or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, the addiction experts at Valley Hope can provide a free level of care screening to determine if you require clinical treatment. Because addiction remains a public health crisis in America, Valley Hope provides an essential public health service and continues to welcome new patients at each of our 16 treatment centers with medical detox services, residential treatment, online outpatient treatment and virtual recovery support programs.
We know that the dangers of addiction dramatically increase in the face of heightened anxiety, stress and isolation. That’s why our team of treatment experts stand ready to provide help and healing for alcohol misuse in a safe, compassionate environment.
For immediate help 24/7, call our Patient Access Center at (800) 544-5101.
With extensive precautions in place, Valley Hope is continuously working with public health officials, staff, communities and partners to ensure safety and remain open to new patients. Learn more: