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How the Coronavirus has Affected Alcohol Use in Adults

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During the past two years, the Coronavirus pandemic has altered our way of life in many ways.  Everyone is still in the process of adjusting to the changes.  In the meantime, we keep hoping for things to return to normal soon.  It has been a stressful and fearful time in our nation and naturally, we seek coping mechanisms to help us deal with the fear and stress.  As a result, many people have chosen alcohol as their strategy against today’s challenges.  

You may be surprised to see how the virus pandemic has affected alcohol use in adults during the past year.  Studies show that alcohol sales increased dramatically in the last year due to the virus lockdowns and restrictions.  So, let’s look at some of the statistics on how much alcohol use has increased during the pandemic.

Increased Adult Alcohol Use During COVID-19

Even in normal times, many adults rely on alcohol to help them deal with the demands of daily life.  Taking a few drinks after work to help them relax is one example.  Or, weekend binge drinking during social events is another favorite way to blow off steam.  But, during the pandemic, people who were already using alcohol increased the amount they consume and/or increased the frequency of use. 

Recent studies attempted to determine whether drinking behaviors changed during the pandemic and how those changes were impacted by COVID-related issues.  Here are the results of the study:

  • 34.1% of participants reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.
  • 7.0% reported extreme binge drinking in the past 30 days.
  • 60% of participants who experienced COVID-related stress reported consuming more alcoholic drinks on a greater number of days.

Surprisingly, due to the lockdowns, many states relaxed their alcohol laws to provide economic support to restaurants, bars, and liquor stores.  For instance, in some states, adults could order home delivery or curbside pickup for alcohol.  Although easy availability has always been a contributing factor in America’s alcohol crisis, during COVID, it has become more problematic.

Reasons for Adult Alcohol Abuse During the Pandemic

Everyone responds to daily challenges in their own way.  Some people like to listen to music or go for a walk to relieve stress.  Others spend time with a hobby or play sports.  But, for individuals who choose alcohol as their coping tool, the reasons are not too different from those who don’t drink.  For example, people in the above study gave the following reasons for their increased alcohol use during the pandemic:

  • 53% said they used alcohol to deal with the stress of the pandemic
  • 39% said they were bored with being restricted to home all the time
  • 32% of participants were coping with mental health issues in addition to the virus challenges

According to a report issued by Neilsen, alcohol sales increased 54% in one week alone during the pandemic.  

Regardless of the reasons, there are healthier methods for dealing with today’s challenges.  Some of those methods include the following:

  • Reach out to someone you trust and talk about what you’re dealing with.
  • Find new things to do to redirect your attention.  Learn to play a musical instrument, start a new hobby, or help someone else.
  • Try to get a new perspective.  Like most people, you’ve had to adapt to other challenges in your life.  Think of this as a temporary opportunity to grow stronger.
  • Take better care of yourself during this stressful time.  Eat healthy meals, exercise, and refrain from excessive alcohol use.

When someone uses alcohol to relieve stress, their problems typically get worse, not better.  Why?  Because prolonged alcohol use can lead to a range of emotional and physical issues.  

Why Alcohol Only Makes Matters Worse

Alcohol is widely available and an accepted way to enhance social gatherings.  However, there are many reasons to avoid the substance.  Although it’s legal and socially accepted does not mean it is harmless.  Here are some of the reasons why using alcohol to relieve stress is a bad idea:

Short-term alcohol use causes a combination of effects that may seem comical or amusing to observers.  We’ve all seen an intoxicated person with slurred speech and poor coordination.  They say funny things and can’t walk straight, so they become a source of entertainment.  Until things get worse.  If they continue drinking, the effects aren’t quite as humorous anymore.  

Here are some of those unwanted side effects of alcohol abuse you want to avoid:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blackouts
  • Unconsciousness
  • Falls or other accidents
  • Agitation, violence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • High blood pressure, heart problems, stroke
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Coma, death

Furthermore, prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to liver or kidney disease, cancer, memory problems, and diminished cognitive abilities.  Also, many people have lost their jobs and families due to alcohol abuse.  So, using alcohol to relieve stress may seem like a good idea at the time.  But, in retrospect, it is only the first step in a multitude of more difficult issues.

Get Help for Adult Alcohol Use Disorder Today

The challenges we face during the Coronavirus crisis have caused alcohol abuse problems for millions of people.  If you want to be free from the powerful grip alcohol has on your life, contact us today.  Our team of experts at Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, California, is ready to help.  We will be happy to talk with you and recommend a treatment plan best suited for your needs.  


  • – Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic:  A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults
  • – Rebalancing the COVID-19 Effect on Alcohol Sales
How the Coronavirus has Affected Alcohol Use in Adults