Although 80% of people who become infected with COVID-19 eventually recover without special treatment, there’s no doubt that the fear of the novel coronavirus has drastically changed the way we work, play, socialize, learn, eat… and drink.
Alcohol sales from April through June grew by 27%, while online alcohol delivery services saw massive gains thanks to the pandemic.
But while that might be good news for retailers, it’s not necessarily a positive for many Americans struggling to cope.
If you’ve been battling an addiction and recently started to seek help, we already know that early recovery comes with a high risk of relapse.
That, coupled with the massive life changes brought on by our current health crisis, could send anyone into a downward spiral.
And even if you’ve had a relatively healthy relationship with alcohol up until this point, it’s entirely possible that the stress of job loss, homeschooling, remote work, or disrupted routines — as well as the fear of the virus itself — could leave you depending on some unhealthy coping mechanisms.
After all, the U.S. already consumed the largest volume of wine out of any country in 2018.
That same year, the National Survey of Drug Use and Health revealed that 86.3% of people aged 18 and older drank alcohol at some point, with 70% reporting they drank during the last year and 55.3% indicating they drank during the last month.
In 2020, many Americans are concerned about how the pandemic is impacting both their mental state and their alcohol consumption.
What’s more, some experts have stressed that excessive drinking can actually weaken the immune system, potentially making you even more vulnerable to COVID-19.
And if you’re willing to visit one of the recently reopened bars in your area, that will most certainly heighten your risk.
But even beyond the risks of the coronavirus, drinking to excess can cause an immense amount of harm.
So if you find yourself drinking beyond moderation on a regular basis, what can you do to keep your alcohol consumption in check?
Be Honest About Your Intake
Most of us tend to underestimate how much and how frequently we’re drinking, which allows us to rationalize our alcohol consumption.
You should set firm limits when you do drink and keep a tally of how much alcohol you’re consuming, how far apart your drinks are, and how often you partake in drinking.
If you’re unable to stick to those limits or you’re surprised to learn how much you’re actually drinking on a regular basis, it may be time to rethink your relationship with alcohol.
Stop Buying Alcohol
It might sound simple, but many people respond to an “out of sight, out of mind” approach.
If you don’t have alcohol in the house, you won’t be likely to engage in mindless drinking or drinking to excess.
And since most people won’t want to make an extra trip out of the house, not having alcohol on-hand is as good an excuse as any to stay sober for the evening.
If you miss the ritual of ending the workday with a cocktail or glass of wine, explore some non-alcoholic options with which you can reward yourself instead.
Swap Drinking For Other Activities
It’s easy to open up a bottle of wine and have a few glasses in front of the TV — especially when there isn’t much else going on at the moment.
But if you can fill your evenings or weekends with some other (safe) activities, you won’t have time to dwell on your lack of alcohol.
Make it a point to get some exercise every day, either outside or on the yoga mat, and stick to some kind of schedule.
You might also consider taking up a hobby or some kind of craft to keep your hands and mind occupied.
Consider Talking to a Coach or Counselor
In many cases, we’re inclined to drink when we’re trying to numb or emotions or experience some kind of escape.
It’s understandable why you’d be tempted to do that right now, with so many uncertainties and anxieties to deal with.
But if you’re having a tough time cutting back on your drinking or you can’t seem to sort through your feelings without it, look into scheduling a virtual chat or teleconference call with a life coach or therapist.
Seeking out help doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic; it simply means you could use a helping hand to improve your life during this difficult period.
Excessive drinking can merely be a symptom of other issues — and there’s absolutely no shame in talking to someone about what you’re going through.
If drinking has been a part of your life for most of adulthood, it can feel strange to envision your days without it.
But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to care for ourselves in order to care for others.
Whether you’re finding you’ve upped your alcohol consumption a bit in recent months and want to get back on the right track or you’re worried about the implications of your drinking during the pandemic, taking an honest assessment of yourself is a great place to start — and these tips can act as some excellent steps to getting where you need to go.