“Sisters are doin’ it by themselves” –
August 28, 2020 – From my work at Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research, I have seen, first-hand, the danger of heightened risk for alcohol and drug abuse that has resulted from COVID-19. Social isolation coupled with job losses, financial frustrations, and health concerns have caused many people to look for new outlets to relax, relieve stress, and provide entertainment.
While substance use disorder (SUD) has always been a global health concern, never in my 14 years as a licensed clinician have I seen such a concerning impact upon my field. Due to the pandemic, there have been disturbing increases in reports of alcohol sales, overdoses, and addiction relapses. In March, the first month of quarantine, alcohol sales rose 55% from last year.
When you’re home all day, the hours can blend together, boundaries may disappear, and suddenly it’s more difficult to distinguish when lunchtime turns to cocktail hour. Or perhaps, reaching for a cocktail signals that it’s finally time to relax and unwind. For women, moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day, while heavy drinking is defined as eight drinks or more per week.
Zoom “happy hours” sprung up in the early days of the pandemic, which at the time provided a much-needed way for people, especially women, to connect with friends. But as these get-togethers mainly revolved around drinking alcohol, they sometimes perpetuated the desire to consider a second, third, or even fourth glass of wine or cocktail. As the weeks in quarantine piled up, so did alcohol consumption. Additionally, social media has played a significant role in bolstering this behavior with alcohol-related memes, including “quarantinis,” making light of the “need to drink” mentality to get through this difficult time.