“I wish I bought beer stocks,” has become an unfortunate joke during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation is drinking more 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 are skyrocketing…and help is harder to find than ever.
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 continual 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 impacts on their “cytokines.” Cytokines are minute proteins. The health of cytokines within the body impacts inflammation levels and responses. Additionally, heavy alcohol also causes bone marrow suppression…and our white blood cells—the famous defenders of our immune systems—stem from our bone marrow. Most concerningly, 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: booze interrupts one’s natural sleep cycle, which is itself crucially important to maintaining health and fighting off the COVID-19.
The special problem with alcohol is 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 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 reach out. We have the safe, welcoming apparatus to help you heal…which now, is more important than ever.