Cringe when you here the term "new norm"? Most of us do. Some have taken the Covid Pandemic lockdown as an opportunity to learn a new language, take up yoga or learn how to cook. But for many, isolation, work from home, kids elearning from home and fear have brought secondary health issues to light.
Depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, boredom and perception of acceptable time passing behaviors have all affected what we actually do. One such example is the enormous increase in alcohol and drug consumption. Numerous chat groups and social media platforms have produced humorous memes depicting giant glasses of wine, zoom call happy hours, exploding liquor store lines, the proliferation of wine and whiskey club memberships, and of course, bars and restaurants serving alcohol as the acceptable social outlet.
Dr. George F. Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told USA TODAY in August, that past research has found people are more likely to drink – and drink more – "during times of uncertainty and duress. Any increases in alcohol use during the pandemic could be a cause for concern, particularly if the increases stem from an attempt to cope with negative emotions associated with the crisis," he told USA TODAY.
ABC News also reports "Alcohol consumption rising sharply during pandemic, especially among women: an 'effective pain killer' in a time of trauma sparks concern among experts."
"It's a perfect drug for women in particular, in a lot of ways," writer and recovering alcoholic Sarah Hepola said. "Makes you feel braver, empowered, strong, it's a pain management system -- and it's a forgetting drug, and a lot of us are in a place where we just don't want to think a lot right now. And as far as women go right now, a lot of them are bearing the biggest burden of dealing with both work and added domestic stresses, home schooling, childcare, keeping the household from falling apart. A glass of wine or two, 'mother's little helper,' that's socially acceptable."
One study by the RAND Corporation and supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states heavy drinking by women is up 41% during the pandemic.
Across the board, starting earlier in the day, binge drinking, and the increases in number of times a week consumed have added up to doubling the amount of alcohol consumption for women, though men are not far behind. Prescription drug and illicit drug use have increased greatly, as well - and the "acceptability" of drinking alcohol has opened the door to trying other drugs.
While you might find like minded friends and/or humor on social media regarding alcohol as a pastime or stress reliver, acquiring coping skills and a support system are the best way to go to maintain mental, physical and emotional health including relationships with workplace and loved ones. Falling into a pattern of rationalization for increased alcohol or drug consumption is a very slippery slope.
According to Physican Assistant Cynthia Goldrick at one of Symetria Recovery's outpatient substance use and addiction clinics, "We've had a definite escalation in the 'established' drinkers seeking help. These are the older folks and weekend drinkers who used to have a bottle and now have one and a half. Or, maybe drink all weekend and are now near blackout."
"It is very common that patients tell us their behavior is changing, picking fights with loved ones, texting while wasted, blackouts, marriages starting to suffer, workplace issues and wondering what the heck is this?" states Goldrick. "I repeatedly hear, 'I'm so unhappy!'".
Use this time of Covid for new inner strength and growth opportunities, meditation, spirituality, fitness and education to feed your mind and soul. Don't mask sad or bad situations. One in four suffer from mental health issues such as depression, according to the World Health Organization. Help comes in many forms. For more help, reach out to www.symetriarecovery.com.