“How alcohol consumption has changed during the Covid Pandemic”

Excuse me, has your recycling bin been extra heavy since the pandemic began?

How has your alcohol consumption changed during the “time of covid?”

Early in the pandemic, my wife and I got a new puppy. On garbage days, when I would walk the dog early in the morning, I would notice that the recycling bins seemed fuller than in the past with beer, wine, and spirits bottles. I wasn’t sure if that was what I was seeing; maybe I hadn’t noticed the “empties” before?

When I drove past the liquor stores, the parking lots were full all day long. Because of social distancing, liquor stores controlled how many people could be in the store at a time; consequently, there were lines of people waiting to get into the liquor store. I know I had NEVER seen that before! It made me ask myself, what’s going on?

Changes in alcohol consumption and the deadly consequences!

The last couple of years have been hard on most of us, and many have turned to alcohol to manage the stress and uncertainty associated with pandemic and economic uncertainty. Many reports from liquor industry journals to health researchers indicate that alcohol use has increased during the pandemic.

Recent statistics:

  • Alcohol consumption heightened
    • Exceeding drinking guidelines has grown more common
    • Binge drinking has increased
    • For many people, alcohol consumption has not decreased as mandates have lift
  • Alcohol-related deaths
    • Annual increases of 2.2% from 1999 to 2019
    • In 2020 there was a 25% increase from 79,000 to 99,000 (270+ deaths per day)

Is it possible to have a healthy drinking lifestyle?

Recent studies have reported that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. However, I doubt that many of us will be giving up alcohol consumption anytime soon! We tried that once in this country and it did not work. So, it begs the question: are there levels of “safe” alcohol use, and what constitutes less healthy drinking behaviour? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, men who wish to drink in moderation should consume two drinks or less, and women should drink one or fewer drinks per day.

How do you decide it’s “last call?”

Many of us will have few or no problems when we drink (outside of maybe a slight headache). So how do you know if your alcohol use has become a problem or an alcohol use disorder? You can listen to those around you who love you enough, to be honest! Or if you are wondering about yourself or someone else there are assessment tools available online (AUDIT) or through your Employee or Member Assistance Program. If you or someone you love is suffering negative consequences at home or work because of the use of alcohol, reach out, and ask for and get help!

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