COVID-19 & Alcohol Abuse

Stress, uncertainty and job loss leads to dramatic alcohol abuse and addiction rise

With stay-at-home orders in place and uncertainty in the weeks ahead, many people are turning to alcohol to de-stress and cope with the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though bars and restaurants are closed, alcohol sales have increased substantially as millions of Americans ride out the pandemic from their own homes while practicing social distancing.

Most places that sell alcohol, like grocery stores, gas stations, and liquor stores are considered essential services and remain open. And buying alcohol now is just as easy as before. With dozens of delivery services, people don’t even need to leave their homes to stock up. While the country is in crisis mode, many Americans are ramping up their drinking and drug use to combat boredom and escape the pain of financial despair coupled with the stress and uncertainly of COVID-19.

The link between substance abuse and unemployment status cannot be ignored. According to the latest data from SAMHSA, about 40% of admissions to substance abuse treatment programs are unemployed. Lack of employment causes all kinds of problems, ranging from financial stress to loss of purpose and difficulties with mental health. Many are turning to drugs and alcohol to cope. While drinking may take the edge off temporarily, addiction experts maintain that increasing alcohol consumption doesn’t actually reduce stress in the long-term.

Industries like hospitality, transportation and retail have furloughed millions of workers’ wages. Additionally, many mom and pop small businesses are closing their doors for the foreseeable future. One poll showed that as many as a quarter of Americans have either lost their job or had their wages cut due to coronavirus shutdowns. As seen in the 2008 recession, economic downturns that leave people out of work can encourage drug and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Stay at home orders have also increased concerns about mental health, especially for the millions of Americans struggling with disorders like depression and anxiety. Social distancing, while important for flattening the curve of new Coronavirus cases, can also force some into social isolation. Those who live with mental health issues, especially those who live alone, are being forced to find alternative ways to stay connected with friends and family.

Widespread crises like the COVID-19 pandemic also have an impact on those in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Most recovering addicts and alcoholics rely on support from peers, 12-step meetings, family and friends. Many 12-step programs have turned to online meeting services, but some people are still struggling to feel the connection that they usually get with in-person meetings. And while there is no lack of support available, people who are trying to get sober now are experiencing more obstacles than ever before.

Fortunately, drug addiction treatment centers are deemed essential services, and there is still plenty of help available. Although travel can be difficult, treatment centers are still open and accepting new patients.

With all of these factors, it’s not surprising that alcohol sales have skyrocketed since the pandemic began. No matter the reason, drinking and drug use is an unhealthy way of coping with stress and uncertainty. For now, the best option is to abide by CDC guidelines while managing to stay as connected with others as possible. Whether you’re struggling with substance abuse or not, we’re all in this together. Learn more about Ambrosia Treatment Center:

We remain open to support clients, families and our communities. We’ve maintained our 24/7 alcohol abuse hotlines and are accepting and admitting clients, vacancy permitted. Please know you can count on us 24-hours a day to answer your calls for any questions and concerns.


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