Oct. 13, 2021 – During the pandemic, there’s been more stress spurred by job insecurity, job risks, illness and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of loved ones. There’s been less capacity at addiction treatment facilities. And most prevalent, Walsh argued, is that people have felt more isolated.

The spread of the coronavirus “hasn’t challenged my sobriety, but I think the pandemic has forced a lot of people to kind of get away from the traditional Alcoholics Anonymous and get away from the traditional supports they have out there,” Walsh said. “And even I got away from meetings. I was on Zoom, but I got away from meetings.”

Overdose deaths are at a record high. And American adults’ alcohol consumption appears to have increased during the pandemic, with nearly 1 in 4 adults reporting drinking more to cope with their stress in one American Psychological Association poll.

“You feel it,” Walsh added. “I didn’t want to drink over it. But you just feel it inside of you — it’s like you’re edgy or you might not be feeling yourself. You’re not dealing with situations and troubles that happen that are out there.”

Ultimately, Walsh said, he largely decided to commit to the program more than 20 years ago to address how his relationship with alcohol was impacting his mental health.

“I felt like I was just sad, depressed … maybe not clinically defined depressed, but I was depressed and I had this pit in my stomach,” Walsh said. “And I wanted to get rid of that. I haven’t had that pit in my stomach in over 20 years.” 


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