Zoom Gloom –
July 16, 2020 – With Alcoholics Anonymous moving online, gyms closing and support networks being socially distanced, sobriety during lockdown has been harder than normal for many. As we emerge from isolation, writer Danny Vikram Bell describes what it’s been like staying sober during a global pandemic and how he’s still getting through it. The world has never faced anything quite like the coronavirus pandemic. The mysterious ‘flu-like’ illness that appeared in China at the end of 2019 had, by the end of March 2020, put half of the world’s population under some form of lockdown. For nearly four billion people, staying in became the new going out, confined to their living rooms, trying to comprehend that social contact could be a death sentence. Unsurprisingly, it had many reaching for the comfort of the cocktail cabinet, beer goggles blurring the edges of the harsh reality of 2020. As retail sales hit their lowest figures since records began, alcohol sales went through the roof. In the US, sales of hard liquor spiked the highest. Compared to the same nine-week period in 2019, gin sales increased by 42.5 per cent. In the UK, supermarkets reported alcohol sales rising by a third. It was easy to believe that the world was drinking its way through the trauma of the pandemic. But for people who don’t drink, lockdown in the middle of a global health crisis brought its own unique set of problems.