Whether you're juggling remote learning with three kids, the entire industry you used to work in closed indefinitely, or you've perhaps even lost a loved one, there's no denying that the last year (and more) has dramatically impacted our universal stress level.
And, how much alcohol we're drinking.
Though it will still be some time before we have a full understanding of just how much more folks are drinking as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, initial data coming out of recent studies tell us that there has been a sharp increase in alcohol consumption since March 2020.
A recent study published in JAMA Network Open found that Americans drank 14% more alcohol from 2019 to 2020, and women, specifically, showed a staggering 41% increase in alcohol consumption over the same period. 1 in 10 women also reported an increase in problems arising in their lives because of their alcohol use.
So what do we make of this? There's still so much information to parse out before we have a crystal clear picture of what has happened, but one potential explanation is that alcohol is simply a substance that yields a rapid state change—going from Point A to Point B.
Anxious to relaxed, sad to numb, stressed to calm... and fast. Because alcohol is a physical depressant, it can dampen down our Central Nervous System, achieving that relaxed state in a split second. Sometimes we find ourselves craving a drink when we're stressed out, when we've had a long day and want to unwind, when we're lonely or sad or bored.
And we have all experienced an increase in all of those emotions throughout the pandemic. You are certainly not the only one, and you are also not the only one turning to alcohol more often as a result.
When we better understand the problem at hand, that empowers us to make a change. If you've decided it's time to change the way that alcohol is showing up in your life — if the pandemic has shifted your relationship with booze in a way that makes you uneasy or unsatisfied — there's an app for that.
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SOURCE: Pollard MS, Tucker JS, Green HD. Changes in Adult Alcohol Use and Consequences During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2022942. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.22942