Guest Post By: Rachel Jessen, LCSW
Back in April 2020, we started to see memes about drinking to cope with the COVID crisis. Terms like mommy juice and day drinking became more popular. Late-night host Conan O'Brien posted, "Can we all agree to temporarily raise the bar for what's considered an "alcoholic?"
COVID has been hard on most people in one way or another. Whether you've been laid off, working more than ever, homeschooling kids, lost loved ones due to COVID, you've been in a job that puts you at greater risk of contracting the virus, or just feeling distanced from regular activities, change can be stressful. And, alcohol has been a coping strategy since the beginning of time, healthy or not.
A research letter posted in September 2020 showed a 14% increase in adults' consumption of alcohol, and "For women, there was also a significant increase... of heavy drinking... from a 2019 baseline of 0.44 days, which represents an increase of 41% over baseline." That is a significant increase in use. Those most likely to be at risk of alcohol over-use for coping include those who have inadequate social support, are struggling financially, have other stressors, and have previously used alcohol for coping, or had been in substance use treatment but that has stopped due to quarantine, etc.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Overuse?
If you have noticed an increase in your alcohol use in the past year, it might be worthwhile to ask yourself the following questions:
- During the last year, have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
- During the last year, has a friend or a family member ever told you about things you said or did while you were drinking that you could not remember?
- During the last year, have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?
- Do you sometimes take a drink when you first get up in the morning?
- How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
- Has a relative, friend, doctor, or another health professional expressed concern about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
Alcohol overuse typically creeps up on people. Slowly, over time, if we aren't really careful to watch how much we consume, tolerance increases, risking an alcohol use disorder.
According to the Center for Disease Control's website, in order to reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.
To learn more about managing drinking, go to the National Institute of Health's page. You can take a longer survey about your drinking pattern.
Get Help with Alcohol Overuse?
Again, it has been a rough year, and if your drinking has increased recently, know that you are not alone. If you've been thinking about changing your relationship to alcohol, please contact MidValley Healthcare via call or contact form. We can offer you support as you think through changes you'd like to make.
MidValley Healthcare, with clinic locations in Boise and Meridian, offers psychiatric counseling and TMS Therapy to help you achieve and maintain a happier, healthier life. You can continue to work, care for family, live your life--while getting the support and care you need for recovery.