Alcohol Dependency During COVID-19

Chicago Rehab Center offers help and resources for those seeking freedom from alcohol dependency

How Has COVID-19 Impacted The Nation’s Alcohol Dependency?

“I wish I bought beer stocks,” has become an unfortunate joke during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation is drinking more alcohol than ever to cope with: boredom, stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Yet, the fact of the matter is, this is not a healthy cycle of alcohol consumption: the number of problematic drinking habits out in the world right now is skyrocketing…and help is harder than ever to find.

On May 2nd—at the height of the lockdown and pandemic—alcohol sales were up by 32%. This is no healthy trend, nor anything to joke about. Not only does alcohol abuse weaken the immune system and make it more susceptible to the effects of the COVID-19 virus, but its continued use increases the chance of developing an alcohol abuse disorder.

Moreover, those who are heavy social drinkers or have a pre-existing alcohol abuse disorder face an impact on their “cytokines.” Cytokines are minute proteins. The health of cytokines within the body impacts inflammation levels and responses.  Additionally, heavy alcohol consumption also causes severe bone marrow suppression…and our white blood cells—the famous defenders of our immune systems—stem from our bone marrow. Most concerning, heavy alcohol use increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that stems from excess fluid in the lungs and is potentially fatal.

Many times, those who drink alcohol do so to relax and fall asleep. That is, however, a deeply flawed strategy: drinking alcohol interrupts one’s natural sleep cycle, which is itself crucially important to maintaining health and fighting off COVID-19.

Resources and Treatment for Alcohol Dependence

The special problems with alcohol are its availability and cultural acceptance. You cannot order drugs delivered to your residence…but you can order a pint of liquor, a case of beer, or a bottle of wine. This reality makes the COVID-19 situation especially problematic for those at risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

Additionally, it can be intimidating to seek help for a potential alcoholism or substance abuse problem during this time. The most important thing you can do—if you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol abuse disorder during this trying time—is to reach out. Chicago Rehab Center a safe, welcoming treatment environment to help you heal…which now, is more important than ever.

Reviewed by Dr. Beth Dunlap

Dr. Beth Dunlap, a board-certified addiction medicine and family medicine physician, is the medical director at CRC Institute, where she is responsible for overseeing all the integrated medical services at the Institute. Beth completed medical school, residency, and fellowship at Northwestern University, where she continues to serve on the faculty as a member of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She has extensive experience in addiction medicine at all levels of care, and her clinical interests include integrated primary care and addiction medicine, harm reduction, and medication-assisted treatment.

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